Tessa Thompson will play the Asgardian warrior Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, but there is a word you should not use when describing her.
In fact, you shouldn't use it to describe any female character, especially if you happen to be a male writer writing a female character. Thompson has noticed how prevalent one term in particular has come, and she's had enough.
"There's one word I hate in all scripts in Hollywood at the moment in describing women, and that is the word "badass," revealed Thompson to the LA Times. "That word has just crept into every script that is pushed around this town now. It's terrible, because it doesn't mean anything. It's a dumb male writer's way of saying, 'Ah, uh, she's like, she, uh, she's tough.' Then straight after that it's like, 'She's badass, but she's got a beauty about her. And she's sexy. Unconsciously sexy.'"
There's nothing inherently wrong it seems with actually being a badass, but when that is substituted for a nuanced character, it just becomes lazy.
"There's an unfair position that women are sometimes put in, in the context of superhero movies and action movies where at once they have to be very strong and fierce, but also sexy," Thompson said. "Obviously, it's still a superhero movie and so you've got to figure out when you need to stand with your hands on your hips and what makes sense. But we wanted to create a character that occupied her own iconography."
Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins came to the same conclusion with her DC portrayal, not limiting the character to just being a "badass".
"I based her on the original comics and Lynda Carter's [TV interpretation]. I followed the rules that I believe in: Wonder Woman doesn't hurt people for fun," Jenkins told Glamour about her vision. "She doesn't use violence unless she has to, and when she has to, she's incredibly adept. Everybody assumes she has to be a badass. Of course, she has to be a badass. It was my duty to say being badass doesn't mean she's not loving, funny, warm, all those things."
Male characters have access to a complete spectrum of traits and personalities, and female characters should have as many options to choose from.
Thor: Ragnarok is in theaters on November 3, 2017.