I love Overwatch. The hype train for this game is an all consuming black-hole that sucks in anything else that happens to wade through my attention span. I love the characters, I love the lore, I love the gameplay, the art-style, and how Blizzard is marketing the game through awesome comics and shorts.
But there’s something that irks me about how Blizzard treats one of it’s female characters. No, it’s nothing like butt-gate. (Which I found Nerfnow’s response most fitting) But it has to do with the ever sexy and cool Widowmaker’s back story. Most notably this excerpt from Overwatch’s site:
It is believed that in her former life, Widowmaker was married to Gérard Lacroix, an Overwatch agent spearheading operations against the Talon terrorist organization. After several unsuccessful attempts to eliminate Gérard, Talon decided to change its focus to his wife, Amélie. Talon operatives kidnapped her and subjected her to an intense program of neural reconditioning. They broke her will, suppressed her personality, and reprogrammed her as a sleeper agent. She was eventually found by Overwatch agents, apparently none the worse for wear, and returned to her normal life.
Two weeks later she killed Gérard in his sleep.
Her mission complete, Amélie returned to Talon, and they completed the process of turning her into a living weapon. She was given extensive training in the covert arts, and then her physiology was altered, drastically slowing her heart, which turned her skin cold and blue and numbed her ability to experience human emotion. Amélie was gone.
Now, Widowmaker is Talon’s most effective assassin, feeling little save the satisfaction of a job well done.
See the problem? Her origin story is barely about her. It was all about her husband, Gérard, who may or may not be related to Brian Lacroix. How she loved him. How she was stolen because of him. We’ve already seen backlash in response to Harley Quinn’s origin story in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. That the children’s cartoon version of Quinn being way complex, mature, and cooler than the supposedly adult version of Suicide Squad.
The only way I can see Blizzard fixing this lame-lore is by taking a few cues from Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.
That opening was crazy cool. I pretty much watched the show for that bomb-ass credit sequence. She’s talking to us as if we’re Lupin, Jigen, or Ishikawa; sharing a hotel room next to the Louvre, her next mission. Her addiction to stealing being alike a sexual desire. We’re drawn in, her asking us to help her, attack her, kill her, kiss her. Then a quick shift, she’s gotten what she’s wanted from us, and throws us away. WHAT A ROLLER-COASTER.
I included Fujiko Mine into this discussion due to the obvious parallels to Widowmaker. Both are bomb-ass femme-fatale archetypes with a panache for doing bad things. They both use their sexuality to do crazy espionage stuff (Fujiko with stealing and Widowmaker with those sick-ass grapple snipes.)
But more importantly, L3AWNFM plays with the widowmaker/Harley Quinn/practically every female character in Game of Thrones trope of “women only being strong due to horrible things (mostly rape) happening to them.”
Throughout L3AWNFM, Mine gets these weird flashbacks from her childhood about being genetically tested and molested by weird owl people. Her mission is to find out what the fuck was going on through a series of heists involving the rest of the Lupin III cast. In the last episode, she finds the culprit of these flash-backs, herself.
Or at-least the girl who incepted these memories into her brain. After going through a traumatizing amusement park of Fujiko robots trying to eat her as well as one of the owl men from the flash-backs attempts to kill Fujiko and friends. She comes upon an old woman, frail from years of lying in bed, her eyes widened by weird metal brackets ala A Clockwork Orange. We find out the story of the flash-backs. The woman in the bed (Aisha) was victim to a series of hallucinogenic drug experiments that left her paraplegic. The worst part of it being subjected to it by her father.
The man in the owl costume is revealed to be Aisha’s mother, who has felt nothing but guilt for the past 30 or so years. She felt responsible for Aisha’s disability, so she assisted in kidnapping women and implanting them with Aisha’s memory. The whole allowing Aisha to live vicariously through these women.
One of them being Fujiko Mine. Aisha and company abducted her and subjected her to the mind experiments right before the first episode, when Mine was undercover as a maid. Aisha deduces that her incepting created the bad-ass that Fujiko Mine is today. Aisha loved watching her would-be self banging hot dudes and stealing their art collections.
This is her response.
She then takes Aisha’s limp-ass out to the beach. Where she watches Fujiko splash around and live her life.
What I’m trying to get at here was that this show completely flipped the trope and Fujiko Mine was way cooler for it. Aisha thinks that Fujiko is strong due to all of the horrific memories she implanted into her. That she was forced to be strong, not because she wanted to. You know, personal agency?
So how can the writers behind Widowmaker change her background to fit? Easy, make her a double-agent between Overwatch and Falcon the whole time. She entered into OW under the pretenses of bringing that shit down. But then she made a whole bunch of friends (Tracer,) did some bomb-ass missions, and fell in love with the heir to a sparkling water fortune.
Moonlighting between two rival agencies can get tricky. And by giving information about an upcoming mission to FALCON, LaCroix dies because of it. Stricken with guilt, she disappears into the world. This is where we can get some tight parallels between Genji and Reaper. Emotionally a mess, she makes a deal with the devil. (Shit, maybe even a Falcon agent in disguise.) In order to distance herself from all the betrayal she’s done in the past years, she undergoes the neural reconditioning to erase her emotions. Genji used the destruction of his body to achieve a higher level of purpose. Reaper is bitter about dying or something, I don’t really know what’s going on with that. Widowmaker decides to not give a fuck.
But most importantly, she made the decision. Her story is about her. Not her husband.
And doesn’t that make her way cooler?