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So, I've gotten into a new show and fandom called "Tales of Miraculous Ladybug and Chat Noir". It's really fun and cute. It's a 3D animation show created in France that has been dubbed in Korean and only recently in English. It's a lot like "Sailor Moon," because the main characters are a teenage girl and teenage boy who undergo magical transformations to become superheroes and defeat the monster of the week. They're also involved in a love square that's not really one, because the heroine, Marinette Dupain-Cheng (a.k.a. Ladybug), is in love with the hero, Adrien Agreste, and doesn't know that he's her partner, Chat Noir, while Chat Noir/Adrien is in love with Ladybug and doesn't know that she's his classmate, Marinette. The fight scenes are great, the characters are likable and charming, and the romantic tension between Marinette/Ladybug and Adrien/Chat Noir is sweet and flirty.


There was just something that I noticed when it came to Chat Noir/Adrien. In some ways, he's a male version of Catwoman. Oh, sure, Chat Noir isn't a criminal in any sense of the word. He's not a thief, he's fully a superhero. But his attitude around Ladybug and the duality of his alter ego reminds me of Catwoman for a couple of reasons.

As Chat Noir, Adrien is extremely flirtatious towards Ladybug and has an exaggerated sense of confidence. He makes awful puns which Ladybug frequently answers by rolling her eyes and he's often cocky when dealing with their foes. But as Adrien, he's introverted, quiet, and shy, which is mostly due to his distant and stern father and his father's stone-faced assistant, Nathalie.

This duality of cocky superhero/shy average Joe is nothing new. Clark Kent, Peter Parker, and a bunch of other superheroes fit this trope. The difference is that neither Superman or Spiderman tends to be overly flirtatious. The power fantasy there is of being so strong and powerful that women will automatically flock to you. Spiderman cracks jokes, but he doesn't overtly flirt with Mary Jane. Likewise, Superman offers to protect Lois Lane, but he doesn't swagger over to her with a lustful gleam in his eye.

A possible reason for that is the idea for both superheroes is that the superhero identity is only a front and that the real person is the average Joe. Peter lets off steam as Spiderman, but behind the mask, he's a dorky photographer who's trying to pay rent. Superman has all of these incredible powers, but his real self is Clark Kent, the mild-mannered reporter, and thus he wants Lois to fall in love with Clark, not Superman.

But for Adrien, it's different. This may just be an interpretation, but the general consensus among fans is that Chat Noir is his genuine self. It's only when he's Chat Noir that he feels free to openly flirt with the girl of his dreams, confidently take down villains, and let himself relax. As Adrien, he is shy and awkward; as Chat Noir, he is confident and expressive.

Now there is a popular superhero whose superhero identity is believed to be the genuine person while the civilian identity is a facade: Batman. But Batman is of a very different personality than Chat Noir and furthermore, the two are opposites. Bruce Wayne flirts with women only as his billionaire persona. As Batman, he's guarded and withdrawn.

Which finally brings me back to Catwoman. In the comics, her costumed identity and civilian identity tend to be the same. But in two interpretations, Tim Burton's Batman Returns and the infamous Catwoman film that starred Halle Berry, the double-personality trope was used. Selina Kyle and Patience Price both begin their films as timid and shy women. It is only when they become Catwoman that they become confident and aggressive. And, unlike Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne, and Clark Kent, their costumed identity enables them to break free of their repression and take control of their sexuality.

Now "Tales of Miraculous Ladybug and Chat Noir" is a show for kids, so obviously Adrien is not supposed to be sexually repressed. But, as many fans have pointed out, his costume can be just as easily sexualized as Ladybug's could, if not more so, because he wears a tight black leather suit. Moreover, like Catwoman, he is flirtatious with Ladybug in a way that he never is as Adrien Agreste which, if this were a show for adults, would suggest that becoming Chat Noir enabled him to break free of sexual repression. Which is a trope that, as far as I can see, seems to be more common with female characters, especially female villains. And the way that Chat Noir flirts with Ladybug also reflects this. He doesn't just tease her with jokes and one-liners; he actively tries to kiss her on more than one occasion. He doesn't try to impress her with feats of power and strength, although he is capable of them; he gets up in her face and addresses her with pet names much the same way that Catwoman gets up in Batman's business.

So, yeah, I don't know. I just thought that was interesting.




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