When we started this March Madness competition, we had no idea how amazing it would be. With the hundreds of character submissions and thousands of votes each round, we found it difficult to narrow down the options session by session – and our audience clearly had the same heartbreak while voting. Time and again a game would end with one character just barely overcoming the odds and defeating her opponent before moving on to the next round. We’ve had upsets and epic rivalries and more sudden-death tie-breakers than I thought possible.
Still, it is time to wrap this wonderful project up. This Wednesday (5/7) we will tally the votes to determine who the Final Four will be. On Friday (5/9) we’ll announce our two surviving finalist, and we’ll hopefully have our ultimate champion announced by Mother’s Day!
But before we can get there, it’s time to narrow down the field yet again. So let’s examine what happened last round to get us to our Elite Eight! All the reasoning below is purely hypothetical. We encourage you to scream your own opinions in the comments.
Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games
Wonder Woman, from DC Comics
The iconic female superhero versus the poster child for strong female characters in modern literature and film. This was a fight that many thought they’d see in the final rounds of our contest, and I am so glad that it actually got a chance to happen.
THE WINNER: Wonder Woman with 50.9% of the vote
To give you an idea of just how close this got, Diana won this battle by one vote. Katniss success at the box office is said to have spawned countless film projects with young strong defiant female characters as central protagonist, which is great, especially considering that arguably the highest profile female superhero can’t seem to land a movie deal of her own.
Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter series
Princess Leia, from Star Wars
One can argue that both Hermione and Leia are support characters in their respective series. Hermione aids Harry, the chief protagonist in that story, while Leia is part of Luke’s journey. I think what we’re missing in that analysis is how both characters serve as vital “ins” for fans – when all the kids are outside playing Star Wars or Harry Potter, Leia and Hermione give some a chance to participate in the story without feeling like a second-banana.
THE WINNER: Hermione Granger with 53% of the vote
This shocked me, but frankly it stands to reason. Leia has moments of greatness in her movies, but Hermione is an essential character. Without her specific set of skills, Harry and the “gang” wouldn’t have been able to succeed in any number of tasks. Leia proving to be a good shot with a blaster just doesn’t compare.
Ellen Ripley, from Aliens
Lieutenant Uhura, from Star Trek
Ah, the battle of space-exploration ideologies! Alien has a grim idea of what lurks for us in the stars of our future, while Star Trek is hopeful and optimistic. Ripley was a trendsetting character for a female lead in a motion picture, while Uhura was many American’s first glimpse of a women of color on national television.
THE WINNER: Ellen Ripley with 75% of the vote
Ripley has always been the star of each film she was apart of, eventually even outshining the Aliens that gave the series its name. Uhura may have been an essential part of the crew, but she was just one member of a large cast (in a series that clearly focused on the male leads).
Mulan, from Disney’s Mulan
Kara (Starbuck) Thrace, from Battlestar Gallactica
Mulan is the iconic Disney reimagined “princess,” who fights for what she wants and isn’t satisfied with waiting in a castle for the price to save her. Starbuck did what many thought (and still think) is impossible; take an existing male character and reimagine the role as a female one. And it worked.
THE WINNER: Mulan with 55% of the vote
I’ve said that I think the raw popularity of Disney products has probably had an effect on the success of Mulan, but I think I’m underselling it. Beyond merely being another Disney female that “wants something more” from life, Mulan actually fights to defend her nation against attack by a hostile force – a role specifically and traditionally assigned to men. So, Mulan is fighting gender roles as an essential part of her story (making the romance subplot with that Captain all the more frustrating, in my opinion). Beyond that, Mulan is a culturally significant figure that deserves respect.
Sarah Connor, from The Terminator
Storm, from Marvel Comics
Storm, sometimes leader of the X-Men, sometimes god amongst mortals versus Sarah Connor, mother of the savior and genuine badass in her own right. Hot damn.
THE WINNER: Sarah Connor with 53% of the vote
You know what’s great about Sarah Connor? She started off as a meek woman that needed saving (although she certainly held up better than I would have given the circumstances), and by the time the sequel came around, she was the ultimate badass giving those killing-machines from the future a run for their money. I love Storm, I truly do, but until she gets her own comic movie (hint hint) I’m going to have to side with the savior of mankind.
Arya Stark, from Game of Thrones
Samus Aran, from Metroid
Samus is the character that got a generation of gamers to think, “Well, why wouldn’t she be a woman?” and Arya is a little semi-sociopath kid that everyone hopes will somehow save the day in what might be the darkest of all fantasy worlds. These may sound like some strange credits to have, but hey, don’t underestimate them.
THE WINNER: Arya Stark with 64% of the vote
Samus is our last female character from the genre of Games, and we are sad to see her go, but in many ways she was just a vessel for the player and barely a character in her own right. Arya, on the other hand, lives a fully realized life that no one would ever want to experience for themselves, but somehow we all still identify with her and want her to win. Go Arya.
Buffy Summers, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Katara of the Southern Water Tribe, from Avatar
Buffy might just be the character that launched a thousand fanfic authors’ (oh, and that Joss Whedon guy’s) careers, and Katara is the sole surviving character from the series that had amongst the highest percentage of female character nominees.
THE WINNER: Buffy Summers with 70% of the vote
I’ll admit it, I don’t know much about Avatar (instead of rolling your eyes why don’t you volunteer to write at NonPro and things like this will stop happening). What I do know is that 99% of all people on Earth between the ages of 12-60 have seen Buffy Summers save the universe one way or another. Also, Kristy Swanson is one hell of an actress.
Zoe Washburne, from Firefly
Barbara Gordon Batgirl & Oracle, from DC Comics
Ok, Wonder Woman is a pretty iconic character, but Batgirl is as essential to the modern female comic fan as just about anyone out there. She’s made it to television (in multiple formats), the big screen, and on more merchandise than you can shake a giant novelty bat-a-rang at. Just go to a comic convention and try to count all the variations of Batgirl – not to mention Oracle, a hero that proves that not even paralysis will keep an awesome character down! Meanwhile, Zoe is our last Firefly character, a series that only lasted one season by spawned a hundred internet poll victories thanks to its rabid fans. Seriously though, Firefly had a huge number of submissions for female characters (a very impressive cast) and Zoe is clearly the cream of that crop.
THE WINNER: Zoe Washburne with 60% of the vote
I’m shocked! Not because Zoe isn’t great (She is! She’s my favorite Firefly character!) but because Batgirl is such an icon! Well, maybe that’s it – maybe people had trouble seeing Batgirl through all the variations and identities and representations. Or, maybe, Firefly fans are just getting warmed up…
Vote now to help determine our Final Four!
That’s right, with only a few days left of our competition, we need your vote to determine the winner or the next three rounds! With so few characters remaining, things will fly by, so vote today!