Orphan, Warrior, Wife, and New God. Reigning from the fiery hellscape of Apokolips, Big Barda was born and trained to be a deadly force. She shines in battle, and enjoys the fight. But what happens when Barda breaks free and chooses a life of her own? Does she succumb to archaic gender roles on earth, or does she forge her own destiny?
As a child of Apokolips, Big Barda serves Darkseid, the ruler of Apokolips. At a young age she was adopted and brought to her new home on Apokolips. She quickly begins her training with Granny Goodness, one of Darkseid’s hounds. Barda was trained her entire life to be a brute force of destruction. As a New God Barda is viewed as the most skilled, and feared warrior, a tremendous feat in itself since Apokolips is home to some terrifying individuals. It’s not hard for Barda’s opponents to be intimidated; if it’s not her strength or combat skills that get you, the sheer size of her will. Measuring at seven feet tall and nearly two-hundred pounds, it’s easy to understand how Big Barda demands attention.
Aside from her physical appearance and strength, Barda is a natural born leader. Barda is appointed the leader of a female group of New Gods that serve Darkseid as his personal guards. Trained by Granny Goodness, The Female Furies are violent and extremely evil. Many times the group fights within itself and Barda steps in to handle them all. She is able to take control and rally the Furies to seek a common goal: pure chaotic destruction. Although Barda eventually leaves Apokolips and the Furies behind, she is still an incredibly deadly warrior that can go toe to toe with many powerhouse male DC characters and defeat them.
It’s safe to assume that on Apokolips the last thing anyone would be worried about is gender roles. Barda proves this by being the fiercest among the New Gods. Her gender doesn’t stop her from being a feared warrior, or skilled fighter. Barda shows that women can be natural leaders, and can inspire those around her for a common cause. She is who she is not because of her gender, but because of her hard work and dedication to Apokolips and for Darkseid.
Wearing The Pants
Barda leaves her home on Apokolips after falling in love with Scott Free, aka Mr. Miracle. They are both New Gods that grew up on Apokolips from childhood but made their escape to Earth together. Barda and Scott have never been a conventional couple, probably because they both met on a hellish planet getting tortured day in and day out. It is not until they get to Earth that Barda and Scott both are introduced to how the world views the roles of men and women; a new concept to them both.
Once on Earth, Barda and Scott get married and live their lives in Los Angeles, California. They spend their time being superheroes, but also trying to live the most normal lives possible. They both have to learn what it means to have a life on Earth and how to have a domestic relationship. Barda and Scott will often reverse conventional roles ascribed to “man and wife”. Barda comes off as the head of the home and more aggressive when she wants something. Even when the couple is getting intimate Barda is the one who takes control.
Aside from their role reversal in their domestic life, there is the obvious difference in size. On Earth, Barda challenges gender roles by just simply existing as a larger than life woman. Her size and the way she carries herself makes her unavoidable and she demands the attention of those around her. Women that are “masculine” looking have their sexuality questioned or their looks mocked. Still, Barda is one of the strongest living creatures on Earth and she doesn’t let anyone forget it. Her strength, endurance, and reflexes rival many of the Justice League Metahumans, making her a great asset when needed.
Stay at Home Warrior
There have been many renditions of Barda as a strong warrior woman. But at times she is also shown to be a stay at home wife. Growing up the way she did, there’s no doubt that Barda wants the simple life. This takes form in Barda attempting to be a stepford-esque wife. She cooks, cleans, and takes care of her and Scott’s child while Scott is out handling intergalactic wars. Many readers dislike this version of Barda because everyone knows that Barda is more powerful than her husband. Yet this doesn’t mean that she is diminished to her assigned gender role. It means both can coexist. Barda cooking dinner doesn’t mean she forgets being a New God, or how to use her Mega-Rod. She is making a choice to live how she wants which is a luxury she didn’t have growing up.
Barda choosing her own destiny on Earth goes against the assigned female gender role she is given. Women are taught at young ages that they are to not be assertive and that they shouldn’t be aggressive about what they want. Big Bardas’s life shows that women can be strong, they can be leaders, and that they come in all shapes and sizes. She shows that your gender doesn’t determine your place in this world. Barda doesn’t change for anyone, and if she wants to smash skulls she will, but if she wants to stay at home to care for her family she’ll do that too. And if there’s an issue with that, good luck stopping her.