Pamela & Ivy, the Poison Ivy origin story, is the gritty exploration of the childhood trauma of one of Gotham City’s most notorious supervillains.
In a time where important and much needed social change is taking place throughout the world, this short film tackles complex issues such as gender norms and mental health in a delicate and witty, yet impactful way. The portrayal of a female supervillain struggling with childhood trauma prompts an important social health conversation often overlooked within the genre.
We discussed the 16-minute short film with director Leah McKendrick and its illustration of the series of events that led to the materialization of the supervillain, Poison Ivy.
The Knockturnal: How did you navigate making a film with such complex issues (i.e mental health and child trauma) into a 16 minute short?
Leah McKendrick: The goal was to do it with sensitivity; to avoid being exploitative or voyeuristic and instead show the world through the eyes of a little girl experiencing the unthinkable.
The Knockturnal: What about the character Poison Ivy inspired you to create this?
Leah McKendrick: I’m always curious about female characters that are painted as angry and vengeful. Women are often vilified for weaponizing their sexuality, but I always wonder, ‘What have they been through?’ I’m interested in how the world has let these characters down.
The Knockturnal: This is a topic that is usually overlooked within its genre – why do you think that is?
Leah McKendrick: The superhero genre is a boys club, but that’s changing a lot. The more we allow diverse voices to steer the ship, the more diverse the stories will become. It breathes new life into this beloved genre and everyone will benefit!
The Knockturnal: How does Poison Ivy sit in relation to the other female villains?
Leah McKendrick: I’m a big fan of Catwoman. I also love Harley Quinn. What is unique about Ivy is that she mimics plantlife as a means of survival. Carnivorous plants will emit flower scents or glow to attract their prey. She’s an environmentalist – a doctor! I love looking at fan art of Ivy, covered in vines. She reminds me of Eve in the Garden of Eden – the original dangerous woman.
The Knockturnal: What were some of the challenges you had while creating this?
Leah McKendrick: Making a film in the superhero genre independently is tough! Wearing a few hats as a writer/director/actor is not always smooth-sailing. VFX are time-consuming. Working with children comes with a specific set of rules – as it should. There’s never enough time or money to achieve what’s in your head. Indie film is bloody, man! But the alternative is waiting around for the studios to give you permission to make everything you want to make, and I don’t believe in waiting for permission.
The Knockturnal: What do you hope young girls who watch this will take away from it?
Leah McKendrick: That they are innately powerful and how they use that power is up to them.