The Hero Color

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I’ve said many times that red is a power color, and that still holds true. But a long time ago, I started noticing a pattern. Whether it’s cinema or television, when it comes to strong women in film, they are in blue nearly every time.

And more specifically, these characters are usually not just strong. They’re heroes.

(This post will contain some spoilers).

Lagertha-1I’ve written more than one post about Lagertha, my favorite character in Vikings. She’s arguably my favorite character ever, of all time, and she’s influenced my life in a major way.

She wears several different colors throughout the series, but blue is certainly primary, and moreover, her shield is blue. That shield design isn’t just for her; it designates her entire army. Carrying that shield meant you fought for Lagertha.

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Wise and fierce. A protector of other women. Lagertha rose from farmer to queen. Who would not want to carry her shield?

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Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games, is marked out at the very start. She’s just a teenager, barely keeping her small family fed, when she makes the brave choice to volunteer herself as a tribute to the Capitol–in her little sister’s place. Standing there in that moment, in her simple blue dress, she is already a hero.

She has only a fraction of a chance of surviving the Games she just volunteered for, but through sheer force of will…

22hungergamesmain0611aKatniss not only survives, but becomes a key player in destroying the Capitol itself.

I don’t know if I could live through everything that she did, but as an older sister myself, I feel that I can understand her. She wouldn’t say that she made a “brave choice.”

She would say she made the only choice.

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Brienne of Tarth is one of many inspiring female characters in Game of Thrones. She stands at 6’3″ and is one of the best fighters in the whole show. Considered her whole life to be ugly, and certainly not ladylike, she dedicated herself instead to the sword. And being the only woman in the land who fights like a knight means that she has to fight twice as hard.

Brienne is fearless, relentless, and she has a noble, golden heart. She believes in honor and virtue, fighting to defend the defenseless. She has the spirit of a true knight, in spite of a lifetime of being denied that title.

She’s only out of her armor like three times in the entire series, but guess what color her dress is.

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There was no truer knight than she.

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There’s a strangely common misconception that animated movies are “just kids’ movies,” and while it’s true that animation is usually aimed at children, the good ones often reach a level of quality that surpasses live action. One of Disney’s most underrated achievements is Atlantis: The Lost Empire. And one princess that deserves a lot more recognition is Kida.

Thousands of years old, she is curious, intelligent, open-minded, and capable of slaughtering you before you could blink. A true warrior princess who cares deeply for her people. Everything you could hope for in a role model.

Her whole design is fantastic, with a darker complexion and striking white hair; she wears all blue, and her tattoos are blue as well.

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Captain Marvel was a super important movie. Not only is it one of Marvel’s best in terms of actual writing, it finally, finally shows us a stand-alone female superhero who is well-rounded, distinct, and not overtly sexualized.

Carol Danvers is strong, logical, and has a character arc that real women can relate to. Her costume isn’t entirely blue, but it still entirely counts–and it only seems appropriate that the blue is lined with red, which we know to be a serious power color itself.

Give me a dozen more movies like this, and maybe we’ll call it a start.

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I know what you’re thinking, but for the moment, please put the last season of Game of Thrones out of your mind. Before the writers and directors so exquisitely botched this show, Daenerys Targaryen was nothing short of a messiah figure. Take a second to remember how brilliant and intricate the writing was for the first five or six seasons.

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Remember when she wore almost nothing but blue? When she struck the chains off of slaves and gave mercy to the suffering? Daenerys was a hero. She was a survivor, and a great queen. And I’d rather remember her as what she really was.

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Now let’s think of a show that didn’t let us down and was brilliant all the way through. Avatar: The Last Airbender. A series that, yes, was for children, yet still managed to address some very real subjects, like war and disability and death, all while still being fun to watch every single second.

Katara is easily one of the most powerful people in the ATLA universe, and she is also unwaveringly kind and compassionate. She’s only 14, and yet she has an inner strength that blows my mind.

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She’s talented from the beginning, but just as her character grows and develops, so does her skill. Katara is a waterbender. Look at the comparison above: in Season 1 (left) making herself a little water umbrella to shield herself from the rain, and in Season 3 (right) full on stopping the rain.

I don’t care what age you are; you need to watch Avatar. It’s the show we deserve, with strong, consistent themes and dynamic, well-written characters. It just became available on Netflix, so start today!

WONDER WOMAN

Wonder Woman is more than just a hero. A very good case could be made that she is the most powerful individual in the DC universe. And her blue dress is easily one of the most iconic looks in cinema.

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You remember. The stunning blue dress with the sword strapped down the back.

This captures Diana so especially well. She is elegant in every sense of the word, but made entirely of steel.

The movie was good, and I have high hopes for the upcoming sequel, but if you want to really see her fight, you should look into some of the animated movies–DC quietly puts out a lot of them. Diana is unbreakable, unstoppable, and I absolutely worship her.


As obvious of a pattern as this is, the truth is, I have no idea why blue is the color of choice for powerful women. Where did this trope come from? How did it become so ingrained in our storytelling? So widespread across so many fandoms? I bet somebody out there knows the history behind it.

I can only speculate.

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Here’s the best theory I have: Mary.

It’s very likely, no matter what kind of background you have, that you’ve laid eyes on paintings or other depictions of the Virgin Mary, and you probably noticed that she’s in blue every time. There is a specific and ancient reason for this. Back in the day, blue pigment was the most expensive and rare, and so it was used only to paint especially holy figures. It became the defining color for Mary, the mother of Christ.

Considering that we live in a culture heavily saturated with Christian themes and archetypes, it makes sense to me that the color for Mary would ultimately become the color for heroic women. We associate blue so intrinsically with good that it’s only natural.

If I’m wrong, if you’re reading this and you know the answer to this question, feel free to leave a comment and tell me. I’d like to know. This pattern interests me very much. Strong women are everything to me.

And blue is my favorite color.

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Have a beautiful week.

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