In Defense of Power Fantasies

Most of the time, I hear the term “power fantasy” used as a criticism.

“That book is such a white boy power fantasy.”

“It’s just the author’s power fantasy.”

“This series is a gross nerd power fantasy with awful female characters.”

Let’s linger on that last one for a moment, and consider that we don’t usually consider a “nerd power fantasy” something that would star a woman as the main protagonist, the geek who gets her due. Instead, the criticism of something as a nerd power fantasy often grows out of the female characters being sidelined or seconded in favor of a less-competent dude (see: Ant-Man, Kick-Ass, The Matrix, and so many more).

As someone who grew up nerd, I understand the geek desire for power fantasies. I well remember feeling the outsider because of the way I read too much, had Star Wars memorized, or made ...