It’s hard for me to look at the pantheon of incredible heroes I know and love today and pick one singular “favorite”. This feels like asking a mother to choose between her children—I love Spider-Man for different reasons than I love Deadpool. Heck, even Spider-Man can be broken down, because I love Peter Parker and Miles Morales for different reasons. I was never a huge fan of comics Cap, but the Chris Evan’s take on Cap that the MCU has given us makes me love him. I love Tony Stark and Thor as well. I love Rogue and Jean Grey. I love Jubilee and my girl, Harley Quinn. How am I to choose between Wolverine and Batman? And what of all the others that I can’t list here, lest this just turn into a lengthy paragraph naming heroes and antiheroes I adore?
I love so many of these amazing people, for an assortment of reasons, so it only seems sensible to forego any question regarding my current favorite and tell you instead about my first favorite.
And that honor goes to one Ororo Munroe.
I first encountered Ororo—codename Storm—in the 90’s X-Men: The Animated Series. I was five or when I first found the show, and I immediately attached to Storm. Which, looking back, is kind of funny; surely Jubilee or Gambit or one of the other more boisterous characters would have attracted me most, but there was something about Storm’s stoicism, her wisdom and wit, her level-headedness in a crisis, and her fiercely protective loyalty to those she loved that really grabbed me. I became totally enraptured with her. I remember my dad buying me a CD-ROM X-Men Encyclopedia (yes, you used to have to buy wikias on a computer disk), which I mostly wanted to learn all about Storm.
Learning her amazing backstory—descending from witch-priestesses, born a princess in Kenya, and ending up a orphan who learned to be a pickpocket and a thief, and ultimately ending up a prominent member and occasional leader of the X-Men—only made me more enamored. She’s an amazing example of inner strength, even with her considerable outers strength. She’s powerful in more than just her mutant powers. She was, I am certain, a source of strength for me as I faced my own life’s trials and tribulations; even if I didn’t consciously draw strength from her, I know some part of my went back to her and felt inspired by her.
And my love for her has never really waned. While I’ve come to love many other heroes over the years, Storm has always held a special place in my heart. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows this—I’m notorious for going on rambles about my favorite characters at random, and Storm is no exception to this. One frequent comment is my lamenting that we never got to see her played by Gina Torres. Don’t get me wrong—I love Halle Barry and have enjoyed her in many roles, but watch one episode of Firefly with Gina’s Zoe as second in command and tell me she isn’t the perfect Storm. Tall, gorgeous, stoic, and radiating power that causes people to know from the first moment they encounter her that she is not someone they want to mess with. She embodies everything Storm is and I will forever wish we could get a live-action X-Men story where she is our Storm.
I care a lot about this because, to me (and I know to so many others), she’s important. She revealed to me my archetype, see. I have a type of favorite character, and I have since I was very small: The strong, wise, stoic, serious, powerful one who seems unphased by everything. I liked these people. I wanted to be like these people.
What you don’t realize when you’re little, of course, is that becoming a strong, wise, stoic person who is unphased by everything is not something that just happens out of nowhere—it is earned. It is born of hardship.
To be that person, you must be forged by fire.
And I was. I won’t get into all that now, but I was. I faced my trials and hardships, and I hated them because who doesn’t? But in the back of my mind, I knew who I wanted to be: I wanted to be strong. Villains take their tragic backstories and hurt others, but heroes take their tragic backstories and do their best to protect and save others. They endeavor to be better, to be kinder, to forge strength that will turn them from victims into protectors. It is a proven fact that the media children consume influences who they become, and how their personalities are shaped. So it is a fact that growing up admiring and wanting to emulate Storm influenced who I became; because when I faced hardship, I thought of her and how she dealt with her struggles.
And maybe I don’t have weather powers, but I can be a good friend, and a good person. I can do my best to protect those who need protecting. And I can work to be better every day. That’s what these characters, especially the first one I ever attached to, mean to me. And that’s why I so appreciate getting to share my love for these characters with others, and watching the next generation develop their own relationships with heroes.
Now, Disney/Marvel, please give me an amazing Storm movie, I am begging you.
She is my first favorite, after all.