Sunday, May 24, 2015

5 Reasons Why Helen Cho (Avengers: Age of Ultron) Should Stay

By Alyssa Carlier

Name your favourite Age of Ultron character. Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver? Ultron, Vision? Stan Lee as WW2 veteran? Thanos finally off his chair?

My mum and I left the cinema and immediately concluded: Helen Cho is an altar to awesomeness.

In the cinematic universe, Dr. Helen Cho is a Korean geneticist who specialises in creating human tissue. She is apparently a friend (read: snark buddy) of Tony and Bruce. In the comics, she's the mother of Amadeus Cho, but this post will focus on her movie portrayal.

1. Helen's a Korean woman — yay for diversity!

Sure, Black Widow is great (and needs her own movie), but do all of the Avengers (sans Rhodey and Sam, at the very end) have to be Caucasian? Korea really has developed a great deal in terms of bioengineering, and recognising that effort goes a long way. Half the reason she made such an impression on me was because we're both Asian. OH. And none of those accents to tip off the audience this isn't a native speaker. Trust me, Koreans speak beautiful English.

The more international scope of Age of Ultron was one of the best steps forward Marvel made, and to have another non-Caucasian character on the Avengers' side would be awesome. And with War Machine holding down on the flashing guns and repulsors side, what better than to have Helen to counter Tony's scientific genius?

2. Helen's a non-combatant and a lady in STEM.

The Avengers are pretty fantastic in terms of avenging, but y'know, they need to have people to avenge. Phil Coulson was awesome simply because he was mundane made awesome — and Helen, despite not having ties to any secret agencies, is still awesome by sheer power of science.
Besides, it's great to have ladies in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Sure, the "science bros" Tony and Bruce are pretty kickass, but even in contemporary scientific circles, ladies are at something of a disadvantage. Although we do have Jane Foster from Thor, Helen's not the eccentric mad scientist, but a typical researcher in academia.

(Say what you like about the Nobel Prize, Thor, but normal scientists don't camp out in New Mexico or get arrested by SHIELD. Besides, we need to have biologists instead of just physicists. *academia fight*)

3. So. Much. Sass.

Helen's a friend of Stark, and it shows. When she's patching up Hawkeye, he says he doesn't have a girlfriend, and Helen just snarks back saying that's not something she can fix. (Of course, that's not something that needs to be fixed after all. Laura Barton is totally awesome.)

Then Tony invites her to the party, and she promptly tells our resident genius billionaire playboy philanthropist that unlike some scientists who only do 12% of the work, she actually has a job to do. Which, you know, is a more accurate representation of scientists in general. Where do you think research grants come from?

4. Helen's very human.

Her next line, of course, is "Is Thor going to be there?"


This is actually a fantastic thing. In recent years, we've built up this enigma of "the strong female protagonist" who simply brushes off romantic pursuits. Now, not only is Helen feminine without sacrificing any independence, we can also relate to her about a crush on Thor. (Because who doesn't have at least the tiniest crush on Thor.)

It's important that when promoting diversity, we don't try to stereotype a particular kind of underrepresented group. Hayley Atwell of Agent Carter fame said it best:
“I would hope that young girls can see that they don’t have to sacrifice their femininity to be taken seriously in the workplace. But also they don’t have to rely on their physicality or their appearance; that it’s just as important, if not a lot more so, to be able to use their intelligence, their wit, their humor and their warmth to be able to get where they want to and to achieve their goals in life.”

5. Helen has the moral baggage of every innovative scientist. (note: minor spoiler)

Although somewhat by accident, Helen ends up working for Ultron briefly and plays a part in assisting his scheme. Her biogenetics work is generally a good thing, and in fact heals Hawkeye and ends up causing Ultron's downfall. But let's be honest, every scientist, once they've conquered the can I, it becomes a question of should I.

Our heroes were too busy thwarting Ultron for us to see how Helen turned out, but if she re-appears, this is definitely ground to be covered. Intention and consequence are always important themes in superhero movies, and especially in Age of Ultron, so extending that theme through one of the secondary characters would be a great way to explore it without bogging down the main characters' arcs.
With a sass look like this, who can resist? (via)

Does Dr. Helen Cho have a place in future Marvel movies? Favourite Avengers: Age of Ultron characters?

alyssa carlierAlyssa Carlier (@AlyssaC_HK) is a high school student in Hong Kong. She doesn't have a day job, but at night she breathes ink and paper and Kindle. In between bouts of writing, she dabbles with laboratory bacteria and posts on her writing and book blog. She sends exclusive content to her newsletter subscribers, because who doesn't like bonus takeout?


  1. She was awesome! She totally needs to show up again. :D And I really related to, "Is Thor going to be there?" because I always feel like all the strong girls can't have crushes or be in love. And honestly? It's always been really easy for me to fall for or have a crush on a guy. So it was really refreshing for me to feel like it's totally fine and that doesn't make me any less mature or awesome or strong than anybody else. I also really liked that with Tasha and Bruce too.

    SO MANY FAVORITES. Banner's probably always going to be my favorite. BUT I also really enjoyed Clint's development in this movie (he's another favorite.). And Nat too! I don't think I've fully understood or appreciated her character until now. And we need more of Laura, because she is an awesome character and role model. And the twins, of course. :DDD

  2. I definitely agree that Helen was a phenomenal addition to the team, though I don't think my thoughts were able to articulate it as well until you sat down and made this list! The more I read, the more I agree that she needs to make a return - maybe to "Agents of Shield" so that we can see her even sooner!

  3. I was so impressed with Helen's character! (I mean, I only saw the movie yesterday so I haven't had adequate time to really reflect on her yet, but I think this was a good start.) I mean, I don't even have anything to add, except I thought that her scientist clothes looked really, really cool and I think that scientists are kind of like superheroes already. Really though. You took the words from my mouth, I thought Helen was awesome, and I hope we see Helen again. (And if we're making wishes, maybe Pietro could come back to life, heh...)