Eve. Delilah. Athaliah. Jezebel.
The common link between these names is obvious – each belongs to a biblical woman who either is evil or is often interpreted as such. We all know the story of Eve; Delilah was a Hebrew temptress, Athaliah a murderous worshipper of Ba’al, and Jezebel a false propet.
[Warning: This article includes major spoilers about the Diablo III storyline. Continue reading at your own risk]
Added to the list of female evils based on religion is a new (and, at first, bewildering) character – Diablo. While Diablo of Diablo III fame is a much less significant figure in terms of culture, the pixelated devil has taken on the role of feminine evil in the latest installment to the Diablo series. Traditionally, Diablo has manifested itself as a male when infiltrating the mortal plane, but in 2012’s sequel, the devil took on a new form in the possession of Leah. Assisting the development of a female Diablo is the fact that it also consumed the soul of Andariel, who, up until Diablo III, was the sole female evil in the Diablo universe. These two factors resulted in the first manifestation of Diablo as a woman, which can be seen in the screenshot below.
This brings us to the question of why. Why would Blizzard give one of their most popular villains a sex-change? In this particular scenario, it’s clear it wasn’t because of the age-old cliche of “sex sells,” as Diablo is not an erotic being (unless you’re into xenomorphs, in which case you might want to invest in therapy).
It’s possible that the old-school design of Diablo wasn’t frightening enough anymore; the devil as a burly, masculine figure is old hat by now. Introducing Diablo as a woman adds a refreshing take on the character, as well as providing imagery that may stir anxiety into the hearts of the players. Having an entity that reaches beyond both sexes while simultaneously pervading them is a concept that we as humans don’t understand, which brings bubbling to the surface the fear of the unknown.
The slow, slinking way in which Diablo moves as a woman is intimidating as well. Personally, I was not an enormous fan of the game, but I did greatly enjoy the cinematic that truly shows off Diablo’s power once it has consumed Leah, whose death was equally disturbing. Some may call the feminization of Diablo misogyny, but to me, it was a means by which Blizzard could explore new character development. Granting a woman that kind of power is a concept that’s rarely explored in the video game industry, which makes the character all the more unique and interesting for the brief period it appears. Really, the only misogynistic part of it is the fact that “she” talks so damned much.
Before this gets to be too long and turns into a college-length essay, I’m going to turn it over to you, the readers. If you played Diablo III, what did you think of the “big reveal”? Do you prefer one sex over another, and if so, why?