Cosplayer smashes barriers to become Internet sensation, inadvertent role model

Growing up as a geek who loved Star Trek and X-Men, Krystina Arielle Tigner didn’t have many positive role models who looked like her to reference, which makes what she has accomplished even more remarkable.

After an accidental brush with convention culture in Atlanta, Krystina was hooked on cosplay, which appealed to her childhood love of dress up, and has since become a rising star in the field.

She’s featured in one of the most irresistible gifs of 2017, a “dance-off” in which she plays Wonder Woman’s twin, Nu’bia, to Gal Gadot’s movie superhero. That instant piece of pop culture heaven has been viewed 35 million times. A Buzzfeed video in which she transforms into four different iconic black superheroes has also gone viral.

Krystina infuses everything she does with joy, including elaborate cosplays from Wakandan Wonder Woman, to Hamilton, to “Frohawk Rey”; Trekkie-themed photo shoots at Vasquez Rocks; a spread in Cosplay Culture magazine; and appearances at cons, where young fans have been known to seek her autograph.

She’s found herself breaking barriers, becoming an inadvertent role model to future geek girls, and meeting some of her personal heroes — Ava! Uhura! — along the way. 

You’re going to want to follow her to see what she gets up to next @KrystinaArielle.

Krystina Arielle Tigner as Wakandan Wonder Woman.

You describe yourself as a “Hollywood cosplayer, pop culture enthusiast, and professional geek.” How did you first discover the world of cosplay?

I have always been into comic books and pop culture, but I truly discovered cosplay for the first time on a St. Patrick’s Day trip to Atlanta with my friend Janna. Our hotel just so happened to be the site of MomoCon. I knew of it, but I had never felt the energy and passion of a convention. I decided that day I would try my hand at cosplay and when I got home I ordered tickets to Dragoncon and the rest is history.

What specifically drew you to this form of geeky self-expression?

I love comics. I love pop culture, and I love dressing up. This field allows me to honor those things and I love it.

Is your love of dress up something that stretches back to childhood or did you embrace this interest later in life?

I’ve always loved to play dress up. We didn’t buy costumes when I was a kid, we just created something. From playing in my Mom’s closet to revamping my wardrobe today, I love style and being able to show creativity.

What do you like about transforming yourself into an iconic character?

Being able to honor the characters that got me through rough times and good times. Most of the characters I portray are characters I have loved since childhood and it feels like a dream come true every time I suit up.

What’s the most challenging aspect of that?

The most challenging aspect for me is being sure that I bring the character to life but still feel comfortable in my skin.

When did you begin to realize that you might be able to take your cosplay to a professional level?

I don’t know that I ever have. From the beginning, I have just followed my heart and that has served me well to this point. I started because I love it, not because I thought it would take off to the point that it has.

2017 was a big year for you! You became an Internet sensation with a wonderful gif featuring you dancing joyfully, dressed as Wonder Woman’s twin, Nu’bia. It’s been viewed about 10 million times. What has that experience been like for you?

As of today, it’s at 35 million views and I’m still absolutely stymied by it. I love that gif. It makes me chuckle every time.

Tell me about how that gif came to be.

After the Gal Gadot dancing video came out, I knew that I wanted to re-create it. When we were on the set for the Buzzfeed video, I recorded it and set it to Britney Spears as a dance-off between Nu’bia and Diana. A dear Twitter friend, @mobius_strip, created the gif and the next thing I knew, it had a lot of views.

People have really responded to it. Why do you think that is?

I think the fact that my joy in that moment is genuine, as was hers. Two authentically joyful people, one being a six-foot knockout with a great smile, and the other having really cool hair, speaks to people, I guess.

Are you a big fan of Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman”?

YES! I have probably watched it about six times in the last week alone.

Tell me your geek origin story. Were you into fandoms and pop culture as a kid? If so, what were some of your favorite franchises or fandoms?

My first fandom was X-men. When I was younger, my Grandpa Jack took my sister and I to our first comic book store. X-men was the first comic book I ever owned and I watched X-men the animated series with my family. It will always have a special place in my heart.

As a kid, there weren’t many pop cultural role models to inspire you. In fact, your husband created a “wall of representation” for you to remedy this. Would you mind telling me a little more about that?

When my husband and I first got married, I saw a Vogue issue that featured models that all had natural hair. I cried my eyes out because it was just so powerful. I ended up telling him about how it felt to be a child and not see many characters that looked like me. Characters of color who weren’t sexualized or objectified. Characters that could inspire something in the next generation.

We have this area over our sink in the kitchen and my husband had some art there. One day, he started buying every magazine that featured women of color for me and placing them on that wall. By seeing those pictures, I could feel inspired and see the people that came before me.

Last week, my first magazine spread went up on that wall. When we started it three years ago, I never would have imagined that would end up happening. It’s an amazing feeling.

Do you feel like you want to be a role model for young girls who might find themselves in a similar  situation.  

I never signed on to be a role model, because I guess I never felt worthy of that title. When I go to conventions now and I see little kids that are excited to the point of tears by my characters, it really puts things into perspective. Whether or not that’s what my intention was getting into this, it is now a reality. I want future little cosplayers to know that they can be strong, inspiring, wear their hair how they want, and that there is space at the cosplay table for us.

As a black woman, what changes would you like to see when it comes to representation in the world of fandoms and geek culture?

I would like to see cosplayers of color represented at conventions in the same way the non-POC cosplayers are. Quirktastc compiled a list of over 500 cosplayers across the country. Having one black cosplayer for every 12 non-POC cosplayers just to meet a diversity quota isn’t acceptable.

There are people with amazing talent and because we are seen as “black cosplayers” rather than just cosplayers, it puts us into this box of being a novelty rather than talent. I want to see more panelists of color, more cosplay guests of color, and less gatekeeping within the community.

What fandoms are you currently into?

I’m a die-hard original series Trekkie and I love “Doctor Who.”

It looks like 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year in terms of representation with “Black Panther” and the upcoming “A Wrinkle in Time.” What are your thoughts on that?

I believe it’s amazing. Seeing “Black Panther” for me was a powerful experience. To see a young black girl be the foremost STEM expert. Strong fierce warrior women. Characters portrayed as Kings and Queens. It was beautiful.

I am so excited to see “A Wrinkle In Time” and to feel the same way. Ava DuVernay is a truly powerful filmmaker and it is going to be amazing to have Storm Reid inspire a generation of young black girls. Her presence in that film will help some little girl delve into the world of sci-fi and that is beautiful to me.

I fell that we are on the cusp of a very important paradigm shift and I am ready to see what that brings. I hope that seeing black characters portrayed positively will help our society and media do the same. I hope that we will continue to have the tough conversations and that hearts and minds will be changed.

Krystina as Ironheart.

Aside from the Nu’bia gif, you’ve achieved a lot in recent months, including shooting a Buzzfeed video in which you transform into four iconic comic book characters — Misty Knight, Storm, Nu’bia, and Ironheart. How did this video come to be?

I was approached by a fellow cosplayer, Bernie Bregman (The Geek Gatsby). He recommended me and I worked with the amazing (visual artist and writer) Kasiemobi Udo-okoye.

Tell me a little about the Buzzfeed shoot. Was that fun to do?

The Buzzfeed shoot was a really great experience. Everyone was really kind and it was enjoyable.

The video has received an overwhelmingly positive response. How do you feel about it?

I’m really proud of it. Everything that I am currently doing is beyond my wildest dreams so it feels really exciting to have these amazing opportunities. I am really glad that it has been well-received, and that I made my Grandma proud.

Are you a comic book fan? Were you into comics as a kid? 

Yes.

What are some of your favorite titles/characters?

I started with X-men. I am currently deeply emotionally invested in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.

Which do you prefer, Marvel or DC?

I honestly like both. There are different characters in each that resonate with me in different ways.

You were just featured in Cosplay Culture magazine. What’s that feel like?

That has been a really cool experience. Just yesterday, a kid came up to me with his copy at a convention and asked for my autograph on his copy. It was a really overwhelming moment. To see my cosplays in a magazine is something I never expected in my wildest dreams. It just came out this month so I am still terribly excited.

You also recently joined the Nerdbot Girls. How did you become involved with them?

I’m a part of an online forum called “Drinking Bros: Nerds” and I met my friend Dana Jane (who is also a Nerd Bot Girl in this group). We met in person at Nerdbot-Con and I ended up clicking with a lot of the girls on that day without them realizing I was the girl Dana wanted them to meet. They took a vote and invited me to join them.

Perhaps the most exciting that happened in 2017 was that you got married. Congratulations! Does your husband share your love of geeky things?

Thanks! Yes, we were married May 28. My husband is not a comic book nerd but he is a magician, so I guess that counts. He has been incredibly supportive of this journey and I am so grateful that he is by my side through it.

Another project you recently participated in was a Star Trek-themed shoot at Vasquez Rocks, which was the location of several episodes of the original series. What was that experience like?

That shoot was organized by a dear friend, Aliza Pearl, who is a cast member on the Geek and Sundry RPG show “Shield of Tomorrow.” We jokingly call ourselves “Uhura’s Angels.” It was really great to be in that spot that I recognized from so many great shows.

You actually met Nichelle Nicols, aka Lieutenant Uhura! Tell me about that!

She is amazing. She is the kindest, most intriguing person that I have ever met. Being able to spend a couple of days with her last year was just beautiful. She’s sharp, witty, and still absolutely gorgeous.

It seems you’ve recently met several of your personal heroes, including Ava DuVernay. What’s that been like?

I live in Hollywood and I have a lot of by chance meetings. The Ava DuVernay run-in was a really big one for me. Two days before, I had been making a list of my goals. One of those was to meet and work with Ava. I told her that when we met. So now I just pray for part two to come true.

Do you make a lot of appearances at conventions?

I’ve been making more lately. I really enjoy the environment and the amazing friends that I have made in this community.

That sounds like a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. What sort of efforts go into this?

For those that do custom builds, it can take months. A coplay look is a complete look. There’s hair, costume, shoes, props. It’s truly a process.

For those of us who don’t know a lot about how cosplay actually works, do you collaborate with a creative team of costumers, hair stylists, photographers, etc., for your various cosplays? Tell me about the process of designing a cosplay.

It’s different for each cosplayer. I love bringing characters to life but I work with some amazingly talented people that step up in the areas where I am weak.

I work consistently with Bonnie Ayala for makeup looks. She did my makeup for my wedding and almost every character I have ever cosplayed. My custom leather builds are designed and executed by Corena Gibson.

The cosplay community has a lot of talented photographers that attend conventions and book shoots through their websites. Photographers like James Rulison, who shot my Cosplay Culture issue photos, my Gwenom and Storm, Gil Riego, Ruy Arena, and, of course, Stefan Pinto.

My process is to decide on a character, which usually comes from a list of beloved characters from my childhood and curate my head to toe look. I fancy myself a stylist in my head. I just do cosplay instead of runway. I am very fortunate to be able to work with an incredible group of talented and creative individuals.

Is there an element of acting to cosplay? Do you have to kind of “become” the character?

There really is, in my opinion. Certain characters, like Gwenom, who is my only villain at this point, have to be presented with a certain confidence and swagger. I do enjoy that aspect of it. To get into character as Gwenom, I listen to “Monster” by Kanye West. Each of my characters has a theme song that puts me in the mood to carry myself as they would.

Krystina cosplays “Hamilton.”

You’ve cosplayed as Nu’bia, Storm, Deadpool, Hamilton, Gwenom, a Hogwarts student, and one of my personal favorites, “Frohawk Rey.” Do you have a favorite?

Wakandan Wonder Woman. Her war paint, combined with the costume and weapons, made me feel truly powerful.

Are there any dream cosplays you’d like to do in the future?

Definitely Vixen and Moon Girl.

I understand that you sometimes like to slip a little “casual cosplay” into your everyday life. Tell me about that. 

I like to wear simple outfits with odes to my favorite characters. Star trek pins, color schemes that match a certain character’s identifiable outfits. I just enjoy it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring cosplayers, especially those who worry they don’t fit the cosplay “mold”?

Drop the idea that there is a mold. Nothing is wrong with making your costumes, nothing is wrong with commissioning. There is no right way. Cosplay is a creative outlet and a form of SELF- expression. If you expect everyone to love everything that you do or to do things exactly as you do, you are going to spend a lot of time disappointed.

Be yourself, and be comfortable. Do this because it means something to you or gives you an outlet to express yourself. It can be intimidating but just stay true to yourself. You don’t have to be a professional costumer to be a cosplayer. Its costume play. Play and do you.

It looks like you spend a lot of time at L.A.’s Magic Castle. I’m jealous! 

As I said earlier, my husband is a magician. I actually got my associate member pin before my engagement ring. It’s an amazing place.

Have you actually attended the Houdini Seance?!?! Spill the beans!

We actually did the seance for the first time in January for my birthday! It was an absolutely wonderful experience. It’s truly magical.

You’ve said you want 2018 to be a year of “chasing dreams and achieving goals.” What are some of the goals and dreams you’re currently pursuing?

I have a lot of auditions coming up and I hope this will be the year I get to see my acting dreams realized. My goal overall is to be true to myself. To be kind to myself and to live and do things that make me happy. That seems simple but we tend to focus more on others than self-care. This year, I will take care of myself and my family.

What mark would you ultimately like to make on the world of geek culture?

If nothing else translates, I just want my love of what I do to resonate with people, because I feel truly blessed to be able to do it. I have no clue what is next on this path but I am going to keep making kids smile, and making my inner child happy.

 

It’s Halloween costume crunch time. Channel your inner Barb, Belle, or BB8!

Earlier this week, we critiqued the annoying and increasingly ridiculous trend of “sexy” Halloween costumes for women.

Now that we’ve explored the outfits many of us don’t want to wear on All Hallows’ Eve, let’s talk about costumes we geeky ladies might actually want to put on.

Whether you’re still figuring out the details of your costume or have no idea what to wear on Halloween, you’ll find plenty of ideas below based on pop cultural trends and tried-and-true geek classics.

I used to spend a lot of time assembling my own costumes, but in recent years I’ve craved convenience over creativity.

One of my new go-to favorites is the pajama costume, or onesie. All you have to do is step into them, zip them up, and they’re warm, cozy, and comfy for a night of trick or treating or a family Halloween party.

Target has an adorable selection of Union Suits pajama costumes, ranging from whimsical animals, like unicorns and dragons, to geeky classics, like Harry Potter and Spider-Man.

One of my favorites is this Princess Leia onesie, complete with hoodie buns:

Target

Before I surrendered to the comfy convenience of a pair of Union Suit PJs (I’ll keep which one I chose a secret), I had big plans to put together my own Antiope costume.

I’m sure I’m not the only fangirl who was so inspired by the kick-ass Amazon warriors of the “Wonder Woman” movie that I wanted to celebrate by getting in on some cosplay action.

After studying Antiope’s amazing leather-and-metal-studded battle armor, however, I decided I didn’t have the money, time, energy, or skills to pull this one off.

DC Extended Universe Wiki

But if one of you, my readers, decides to go for it, like the dedicated cosplayers pictured below, I want to be your best friend forever.

Dowen Creative Studios

Of course, there is at least one packaged costume option when it comes to the Amazons. This “Adult Deluxe Beach Battle Wonder Woman Costume” would do the trick if you’re not too picky about authenticity.

Walmart

If you’d rather be the Princess of Themyscira herself, a la Gal Gadot, you don’t have to settle for one of those skimpy, less-than-battle-ready “sexy” Wonder Woman costumes.

This one’s not half bad:

Rubie’s Costume Company

I’m partial, however, to a playful homage to the goddess Diana, courtesy of Her Universe’s cosplay-ready Wonder Woman Collection.

All you need is the “DC Comics Wonder Woman Replica Tiara” and the “DC Comics Wonder Woman Reversible Dress” — which you’ll totally wear again.

Hot Topic

If you’ve got cash to burn, complete the look with the proper footwear, “DC Comics Wonder Woman 3-Piece Wedge Boots.”

legionofleia.com

Also on my wishlist of costumes I’d love to see women rocking on Halloween are the characters that populate the mythical kingdom of Wakanda in the upcoming “Black Panther” movie. Somebody please do this! This group totally pulled it off.

tosche-station.net

Some of my favorite costumes last year were themed around the Netflix ’80s throwback horror series “Stranger Things.” Never have Halloween revelers been able to create so much impact by throwing a string of Christmas lights around their necks.

From my research, it looks like “Stranger Things” will be a popular theme again this year. The show returns for Season 2 on Oct. 27.

There are many characters to choose from, of course, but none more beloved than cult favorite Barb.

Rock those Coke bottle glasses and mom jeans!

Spirit Halloween

Slap on a blonde wig — or shave your head for bonus points — and smear a little blood under your nose and you’re good to go as paranormally gifted test subject and waffle lover Eleven.

This “Blush Long-Sleeved Babydoll Dress” will be your piece de resistance.

Hot Topic

Except, you’ll also need this amazing Eggo-inspired purse (available at Spirit Halloween).

Spirit Halloween

Judging by the enthusiasm expressed for “The Last Jedi” trailer on social media this week, Star Wars will also remain a popular sartorial choice this Halloween season.

Honor the memory of Carrie Fisher with a classic Leia look:

Her Universe

Or, because there seem to be no porg costumes … yet … show your love for that other adorable sidekick, BB8, with this stunning cosplay dress:

Hot Topic

Or channel your inner rogue smuggler with this “I Am Han Solo Collared Tank-Dress,” which I totally dare you to wear to work the next day, too.

ThinkGeek

And if you’re a “Clone Wars” fan, you can go all out with this colorful Ahsoka Tano costume, complete with headpiece.

Hot Topic

Thanks to the DisneyBounding craze, you can’t go wrong with a Mouse House-themed costume.

Thanks to the success of the live-action “Beauty and the Beast” film, many Disney fans will be embracing the straight-from-the-film version of the village frock worn by that strange but special bookworm, Belle.

Walmart

If you’d rather go old-school when it comes to Disney princesses, this Mulan cosplay dress is understated but on-point.

Hot Topic

Superheroes, especially the ones owned by Marvel, are predicted to dominate Halloween again this year.

This cosplay dress is practically dripping with the anticipation of the upcoming “Ms. Marvel” movie starring Brie Larson.

Her Universe

And what fan of Hiddles and Hemsworth wouldn’t have to have this reversible Thor/Loki dress from Her Universe. You can wear it again soon to see “Thor: Ragnarok.”

Her Universe

If you’re more of a Whovian than a Marvel geek, you don’t have to look very far to find duds themed after your favorite Doctor. Or you could just slip into this gorgeous, vintage-looking, timey-wimey Tardis party dress.

Hot Topic

You can always shun the latest trends and go retro with your costume instead, although I fear the three examples I’ve gathered below could actually be quite trendy this year.

The witchy 1993 Disney film “Hocus Pocus” is enjoying something of a renaissance lately, which is why I’d highly recommend putting a spell on yourself and going as one of the Sanderson sisters.

Spirit Halloween

Admit it, as much as every goth girl longs to dress up as winsome ragdoll Sally, haven’t you ever wanted to be the Pumpkin King?

Hot Topic

And to channel ultimate ’80s goth girl Lydia Deetz (aka Winona Ryder), all you really need is a clever prop, ThinkGeek’s “Beetlejuice Handbook for the Recently Deceased Journal.”

ThinkGeek

In conclusion, if you’ve got a party to get to, places to go, or people to see on Halloween, but you’re not feeling the full costume vibe, ModCloth has an eccentric and irresistible collection of vintage-style frocks, blouses, skirts, and other clothes in cute and spooky patterns that demonstrate you’re in the spirit of the evening.

Happy hauntings!

ModCloth

 

Share Your Halloween Costume!

Are you going all geek goddess this Halloween? Send a picture of yourself decked out in your costume and we’ll post it on the blog. Direct photos to lavendervroman@gmail.com. Trick or treat!

Let’s call this the summer of THE BADASS LADY

Traditionally, Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer as kids settle back into school and adults bid bye-bye to their dreams of beach days.

It’s also the end of Hollywood’s favorite movie season, which means it’s time, once again, to celebrate the Badass Ladies of Summer.

The Badass Ladies of Summer originated in 2014 on my first blog, after I spotted an encouraging trend of women delivering strong, wildly entertaining, box office-stealing performances in a typically male-dominated season.

Past Badass Ladies include Emily Blunt in “Edge of Tomorrow,” Charlize Theron as Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Alicia Vikander in “Ex Machina,” Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in “Suicide Squad,” and the endlessly funny female-led cast of “Ghostbusters.”

Now, to 2017.

As we all know, this summer was owned by one badass lady in particular. It’s tempting, in fact, to declare that she may be the badass lady to end all summers of the badass ladies.

I’m talking, of course, about Gal Gadot, star of the long-anticipated “Wonder Woman” movie, directed by another badass lady, Patty Jenkins.

Director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot on the set of “Wonder Woman.”

Not only is “Wonder Woman” the first legit female superhero movie — “Elektra” and “Catwoman” clearly do not count — it’s a bonafide box office smash, the highest-grossing movie of the summer and the most successful movie in the DC extended universe (a universe populated mostly by dudes.)

It’s worth remembering that “Wonder Woman” achieved these impressive landmarks after enduring months of rumors of the film’s impending box-office demise. There was more than a whiff of sexism in the air as website upon website speculated as to whether a female-fronted comic book movie could ever be expected to soar, let alone survive.

“Wonder Woman” appears to have utterly demolished the Hollywood boy’s club, but as usual, things may be more complicated than they seem. Judging by the rest of the summer, bad-ass ladies are still struggling to make their mark on a testosterone-fueled cinematic season.

Two of the summer’s biggest critical darlings, “Dunkirk” and “Baby Driver,” were almost shockingly male-dominated in terms of casting. Directors Christopher Nolan and Edgar Wright may have had perfectly valid reasons for this, but it’s difficult to ignore the absence of central, powerful, or compelling female characters in these admittedly excellent films.

Katherine Waterston in “Alien: Covenant.”

It’s not as if women were missing entirely from the summer landscape, but when they did show up to fight monsters, run away from or trigger explosions, and kick butt alongside male co-stars, their presence was often a disappointment.

Scarlett Johansson’s star turn in “Ghost in the Shell” was all but scuttled by a major white-washing controversy. Meanwhile, Brie Larson, Sofia Boutella, and Cara Delevingne scrambled to be noticed amidst the mediocrity of, respectively, “Kong: Skull Island,” “The Mummy,” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”

Katherine Waterston should have had a well-deserved breakout moment in Ridley Scott’s “Alien: Covenant,” but her Ripley moment was obscured by a series of cheap, misogynistic horror clichés, including multiple, lingering shots of a woman’s severed head and a gruesome nude shower scene.

With something as delectably empowering as “Wonder Woman” on our summer plates, it’s tempting to let all this slide, but clearly Hollywood is still in need of many more bad-ass ladies to give it the kick in the butt it requires to realize that strong roles for women are the way of the future.

That said, we’re here to laud the ladies who did break barriers, cross boundaries, and inspire awe with their bad-ass acting and action prowess. Their ranks may be small, but their performances packed a huge punch.

Dafne Keen in Logan: Keen was only 12 when she starred opposite Hugh Jackman in the latest and bleakest of the Wolverine spin-offs. Her performance as mutant X-23, aka Laura, is the stuff of a parent’s nightmares, but it’s truly amazing in its total avoidance of child actor clichés.

There’s never anything cutesy or cloying about Keen or her relationship with Jackman’s aging, disillusioned Logan and Patrick Stewart’s decaying Professor X, who become her protectors in a world where mutants are hunted and all but extinct.

Clawed and feral, Keen is a furious, beastly ball of rage and survival instincts. At one point, she casually emerges from a melee, clutching a severed head. Mute for the first portion of the movie, when she finally speaks and cracks an unsettling smile, we get a glimpse of her uncommon talent. She may be young, but she’s already a badass lady.

Gal Gadot in “Wonder Woman”: It’s magnificent, really, the way Gadot so naturally embodies the iconic role of the Amazon warrior princess of comic book legend. There’s no swagger in this performance, just humility, grace, and unabashed joy, which makes it a pleasure to watch.

Director Jenkins deserves credit for working closely with Gadot to develop the role of Diana, a goddess who leaves her sheltered life on the all-female island of Themyscira to become the benevolent champion of a self-destructive human race.

It’s not that Gadot’s Diana isn’t feminine or beautiful. It’s that her femininity and beauty never define her. As she intervenes in World War I, believing that meddling god of war Ares is behind the conflict, she fights with courage, honesty, intelligence, and humor, supported by a posse of male sidekicks.

She is the ultimate superhero for the Trump era, compassionate, unstintingly righteous, thoroughly unconflicted about her divinity. She’s better than us, but she understands our plight.

Gadot is featured in action scenes, elegantly staged by Jenkins, that are the empowering stuff of little girl’s dreams. In a scene showcasing the fierce battle skills of Themyscira’s Amazon warriors, including Robin Wright’s gob-smackingly awesome Antiope, Jenkins quietly renders moot the male gaze we’re so accustomed to seeing in action movies. To recognize it is to realize it is possible to do away with this tired cinematic convention, and that’s historic.

Charlize Theron in “Atomic Blonde”: It didn’t attract the attention that “Wonder Woman” did, but “Atomic Blonde” deserves just as much praise for its bold subversion of action movie stereotypes.

Set in 1980s Berlin, it features Theron as a spy navigating Cold War intrigue and blatant sexism to retrieve a stolen list of agents for the British government. Mysterious, passionate, and solitary, Theron’s Lorraine is as hard-boiled and badass as they come. Her sex appeal and flair for ‘80s fashion are the least interesting things about her.

Theron did a majority of the stunts in the film, which are brutal, intense, and authentic. It’s refreshing to see a woman fighting realistically, even if, like the men in most action flicks, she can endure more of a beating than is humanly possible.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if Theron’s steamy lesbian sex scene is an exploitative male fantasy or a daring depiction of female pleasure.

At any rate, “Atomic Blonde” confirms Theron’s rightful place in the Badass Ladies hall of fame.

Photos: amctheatres.com, lanacion.com.ar, youtube.com.

Introducing the Geek Goddess Interviews …

The Internet is lousy with websites dedicated to pop culture, but only a handful of them feature women’s voices or are concerned with women’s issues.

There are some great ones — The Mary Sue, A Mighty Girl, and Her Universe come to mind — but, by and large, the content circulating on the geek Interwebs is written by and for men.

The No Man’s Land blog was created, in part, to address that imbalance. The site’s top priority is giving voice to fangirls who boldly pursue their geeky passions in whatever form they may take.

In that spirit, we’re proud to introduce our regular Wednesday feature, The Geek Goddess Interviews. (We know. We know. It’s a cheesy name. Just go with it.)

Every week, we’ll chat with a “Geek Goddess” whose devotion to her fandoms manifests itself in unique and inspiring ways — in career, family activities, hobbies, activism, opinions, creative pursuits, and other realms of expression.

We hope these simple snapshots will motivate other women to passionately embrace the fandoms they love and to do so with pride.

I’m always looking for interview subjects, by the way, so if you happen to know someone who might be ideal, please respond via the comments, private message, or email, lavendervroman@gmail.com.

For our debut interview, I’m proud to introduce one of my dearest friends, Kristy Rivas of Lancaster, Calif.

Kristy is a former teacher, a duty aide at a local elementary school, a comic book enthusiast, an expert movie buff, and the best convention buddy you could ever ask for. I’ve often benefited from her comic book wisdom and recommendations.

Kristy was a die-hard Wonder Woman fan long before a certain Amazon warrior made her big movie debut. One of the most interesting things about her, though, is the way she shares her geeky interests with her husband, David, and her children, 10-year-old Noah and 7-year-old Audrey. They have to be one of the coolest families ever. 

Kristy Rivas with her favorite comic book writer, Gail Simone.

Were you interested in “geek culture” as a kid or did that come later? When did you embrace the lifestyle?

I was not interested in “geek culture” as a kid. I did not read comics and I was not into sci-fi. After I was married, my husband decided to let me know that he was into “geek culture.” I was taken aback when he wanted to display his He-Man and Batman action figures in our home. He slowly began to draw me into some of his geekdoms. He introduced me to comics.

I began to embrace the lifestyle around 2005. There were a combination of factors that led to my embrace of it. My husband began buying Batman comics, Batman Begins came out, and we had made friends with a few self proclaimed geeks.

You’re a comic book reader. How did you become interested in that?

My husband would pick up Batman comics sometimes and I would read them too. I really enjoyed the Batman comics. In 2008, he bought me a Wonder Woman comic written by Gail Simone. Then, in 2009, Brian Q. Miller began a Batgirl run with Stephanie Brown and Gail Simone was writing Birds of Prey. These were the comics that really brought me into the comic book world. I am a comic book fan because of Gail Simone.

Marvel or DC?

DC Comics. Marvel films.

(Christopher) Nolan’s Batman trilogy and (Patty) Jenkins’s Wonder Woman (from DC) are my favorite hero films.

What are some of your favorite comic book titles?

Both of Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey runs.
Wonder Woman: The Circle by Gail Simone.
Court of Owls by Scott Snyder.
Batman: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder.
Brian Q. Miller’s Batgirl run.
The New 52 Batgirl by Gail Simone.
New 52 Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello.
Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb.
Gotham City Sirens.

You were on the Wonder Woman bandwagon long before the movie became a hit. What drew you to the character?

Hope, power, love, faith, and strength. She has the strength and goodness of Superman but isn’t afraid to do what is necessary, including killing a foe. She has the sense of justice of Batman but doesn’t let it rule her life. She is a stranger in our land. She came as an ambassador and fights for us even though she isn’t one of us. She has faith in humanity. She is a great warrior. She is just AWESOME!

What did you think of the movie?

I thought the movie was fantastic! Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot did a fantastic job of bringing all that Wonder Woman stands for to the screen. The no man’s land scene gave me goosebumps.

What are some of the other fandoms you’re interested in?

Star Wars, Disney, Orphan Black, Gilmore Girls, Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The Rivas Family, from left to right, Kristy, Audrey, Noah, and David. And, of course, that’s Chewbacca in the middle. The family poses with the Wookie at Disneyland.

Geeky interests and activities are a big part of your bonding time with your husband and kids. Could you talk about some of the interests you all share, as well as some of your individual interests?

We all love games so we play some geek themed games together. We will play Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit, or Disney Cranium a lot. We also love to go pick up comics together. My husband and I go to WonderCon and to a lot of geek centered films. I don’t really do many activities by myself. I really love that
we can do so many things together.

What are some of the geek-related things you enjoy doing together?

We love to watch The Flash and Supergirl together. We also love buying comics, Free Comic Book Day, playing Star Wars Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly, attending the D23 Expo, going to see Star Wars films opening night, lightsaber duels, and many other fun things.

What are some of the collectibles you’ve amassed together or individually?

Oh man, we have so many Funko Pop! figures between us. We also have many geek related Legos and action figures. We don’t have any real collectibles though.

What do you feel your kids have learned from your encouragement in these areas of interest?

I don’t know. This stuff is widely accepted right now. It’s a good time to be into geek culture. We are having fun.

Kristy and her kids enjoy reading comics together and sharing in lots of geeky activities. Above, Noah and Audrey take a comic book break.

What would be your advice for families who want to incorporate these types of activities into their time together?

Go to Horizon Comics (in Lancaster, Calif.). Rodger is great and he will help you find something you like. Have fun with it. They might not love what you love. Encourage them to find something that they love. If you go to a Con, be relaxed.

You’ve attended a lot of conventions, including WonderCon, San Diego Comic-Con, and D23. What are some of your best memories from those events? What do you enjoy about cons?

Cons are so much fun! I have met Gail Simone twice, Ashley Eckstein (of Her Universe), Jim Lee, my husband met Scott Snyder, and we have been to many fun panels. My favorite con memory is just watching my kids enjoy the D23 Expo. Hearing their laughter during the DuckTales panel, watching as my son got his Oswald book signed by the author, watching my daughter jump into Scrooge’s money bin, and enjoying the time we have together sharing in our geekiness.

I love the atmosphere at the cons. I love that there is always a panel I want to see. I love hearing about where they are taking my favorite book characters or hearing people talk about where they wanted the Wonder Woman movie to go. I love the cool costumes that people have made. It is just a fun activity to share with those I love.

The Rivas family, from left, David, Noah, Audrey, and Kristy, pose for a comic book-themed family photo shoot.

As a woman, is there anything you would like to see change in the world of geek culture or fandoms?

Acceptance. Some people don’t like all the strong, female characters that are front and center. Honestly, I have seen some really good changes recently. Ashley Eckstein and Her Universe have expanded. I loved that they sold Wonder Woman merchandise and they are selling more decor now. Shea Fontana is doing a great job with DC Superhero Girls, which we all love, and is now writing Wonder Woman. Nicola Scott was doing the art work for Wonder Woman recently. Star Wars has Forces of Destiny and many other great books and comics.

Those are all great things. I would love to see more DC stuff out there for my kids in the comics. They did a great job with DC Superhero Girls but now my son’s left out of the DC comic loop.

I think things are moving in a great direction for girls and women right now. I want that to continue. Wonder Woman kicked ass! (The) Captain Marvel (movie) cast Brie Larson, which is fantastic. Maybe they are learning that women are awesome too! I also love that Black Panther looks amazing!! Also, the fact that Rey (of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Wonder Woman were front and center, strong, fun and not sexualized. Women are so much more than sexual objects and for people to leer at. Let’s keep that going.

What’s the next event or big release (movies, comics, etc.) you’re looking forward to?

The Dark Nights Metal comic looks exciting. That came out but we don’t have our copy yet. I also heard that Gail Simone has something in the works. Also, The Last Jedi!

You’re a fan of “Orphan Black,” which recently wrapped up its final season. What did you think of the finale? (SPOILER ALERT!)

I thought the finale was great. I enjoyed that we got to see the clones defeat Neolution, encourage Sarah, start curing all the Ledas, and be able to continue their lives. It brought everything together and tied a nice bow on it for us.

Who’s your favorite clone?

Oh man, I have two. Alison and Helena.

Kristy, Audrey and Noah in front of the Batmobile at an event.

Welcome to No Man’s Land

Something happened to me in June.

I’m sure certain people will scoff when I say that in June a movie changed my life. Or maybe it didn’t quite change my life, but it changed the way I saw the world and it changed the way I saw myself.

In June, I saw Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman.”

After decades in development limbo, DC’s long-awaited comic book adaptation arrived exactly when I needed it most, after months of demoralizing political and social setbacks for feminism and female wellbeing in general.

Despite what James Cameron says, “Wonder Woman” is a feat of female representation the likes of which Hollywood never seemed capable of delivering before. The fact that it also became the biggest hit of the summer, breaking records left and right, was just icing on the cake.

Left to right, Gal Gadot, director Patty Jenkins, and Chris Pine on the set of “Wonder Woman.”

Sure, “Wonder Woman” is a deftly written, wildly entertaining, gracefully executed, slickly produced big-budget comic book movie. It’s also so much more.

As star Gal Gadot charged into battle, bullets pinging off her silver gauntlets while soldiers cowered in the trenches, for perhaps the first time, little girls did not have to stretch their imaginations far to put themselves in her place. They were finally granted the same delight boys have long enjoyed, watching Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, Batman, or any other epic hero on a hero’s journey to save the world.

For grown women, the experience was even more profound.

Starved for female cinematic role models of power, strength, courage, compassion, intelligence, and heroism, the sight of Gadot’s Amazon warrior presiding over kick-ass action, not as a sidekick or sexual object, but as a three-dimensional hero who reflects back to us all that is best about our own humanity, was revelatory and unexpectedly cathartic.

There were tears. I assure you, they were tears of joy.

Gal Gadot greets a young Wonder Woman fan at a signing.

That said, it would be foolish to assume “Wonder Woman” changes everything.

For all we know, Hollywood will  jump on the female-led action movie bandwagon for a couple years before going back to business as usual. The worlds of science fiction, fantasy, videogames, comic books, cosplay, and TV and movie fandoms will likely remain minefields for women to navigate. Girls and women will still have to fight for their voices to be heard, in fictional worlds as well as the real world.

What has changed then?

Personally, I’m feeling more hopeful about the potential for women to step up and take their place at the forefront of geek culture, to blaze trails and envision ourselves in roles we thought we might never assume.

This hope has inspired a new project, a blog dedicated to the voices of women who are passionate about fandoms of all kinds. It’s no coincidence I’m launching this endeavor the day before “Wonder Woman” is released in digital HD.

The title of the blog? No Man’s Land.  Because this project is very much in the spirit of Wonder Woman but is by no means limited to the subject of Wonder Woman.

My intention is that No Man’s Land would be an outlet for the resources and skills I’ve honed during a more than 15-year career as an entertainment editor, film critic, blogger, and freelance writer.

Most of all, though, I want to have fun, and I want you to have fun too. This will most often take the form of shameless and enthusiastic discussion of all our favorite geeky things.

So we’ll be talking about Game of Thrones, and Doctor Who, and Harry Potter, and Stranger Things, and comic books, and anime, and comic book movies, and conventions, and television shows, and books, and collectibles, and cosplay, and whatever other nerdy thing we happen to be obsessed with at the moment.

And Star Wars. Lots of Star Wars. Because it’s Star Wars!

No Man’s Land will also endeavor to highlight the stories of women who are passionate about various fandoms and express this in fascinating ways, in pioneering careers, creative pursuits, unusual hobbies, family activities, and many other avenues.

We won’t shy away from talking about feminism, politics, social issues and perhaps even subjects that are painful, complex, or controversial.

Guys, despite the blog title, this is a space where you are welcome. We’d love your thoughts and contributions because we know so many of you are on our side.

Readers, I’d love it if you would function as my lasso of truth by offering your comments, feedback, suggestions, content ideas, pitches for guest posts, or whatever is on your mind.

Let’s get out of the trenches. I’ll see you on the battlefield.

Photos: Heroic Hollywood, YouTube, CBR, DC Comics.