In my new book The Gothic Wanderer, I discuss how in the early twentieth century, the Gothic Wanderer figure was transformed into a superhero figure, citing Superman and Batman as examples. However, the movie My Super Ex-Girlfriend, starring Uma Thurman in the title role, takes the superhero a step back to its Gothic Wanderer origins.
Most Gothic Wanderers are guilty of being transgressors, holding dark secrets they must hide from others. The superhero figure is much the same, except rather than guilt, the superhero must hide his identity from the world. And in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, superheroine G-Girl, played by Thurman, is no different, until she falls in love.
G-Girl, disguised as ordinary girl Jenny, begins dating Luke Wilson’s character, Matt, after he hits on her, she rejects him, but then he tries to stop a purse thief. While still keeping her identity a secret, she tells him that she always has to help others, but he was the first person who ever helped her, so he is her hero. He doesn’t yet understand the full implications of this statement, but as the film goes on and G-Girl reveals her identity, she also reveals just how lonely her life has been. Soon she is jealous of Matt’s attractive coworker, Hannah. When Matt suggests Hannah and her boyfriend join him and Jenny (G-Girl’s name for the world to know), and G-Girl instead must rush off to save the world from a missile gone astray, only to return to find Matt and Hannah hugging, her full sense of loneliness is written all over her face.
The movie goes from that point into a scary picture of a neurotic G-Girl when Matt tries to suggest they break up and G-Girl becomes the crazy ex-girlfriend, accusing him of sleeping with Hannah. Soon, Matt finds himself in his own Gothic nightmare (although hilarious to the viewer) as G-Girl makes his life a living hell–even his nightmares based on fear are scary enough.
G-Girl has, like most Gothic wanderers, achieved forbidden power, or at least unnatural and supernatural power, in this case after being exposed to meteor radiation, which allows her to fly, gives her superhuman strength, and heat vision. These abilities have separated her from humankind. In the film, Matt and his friend, Vaughn (played by Rainn Wilson) discuss what the G in G-Girl stands for, but I don’t remember an answer ever being given – could the G really stand for “Gothic”?
Well, despite the Gothic elements, superheroes tend to have happy endings, and this movie is a comedy. There are some interesting twists, including an ex-boyfriend of G-Girl’s who has become her nemesis as the film’s chief villain. It’s an entertaining film, good for some laughs, but it also speaks to issues of loneliness for those who are different in society. How many viewers, I wonder, realize that G-Girl is a literary grandchild of Gothic wanderer outcasts?