Last month was rough for women in comic books. The internet had a public debate about if Shailene Woodley was “hot enough” to play Mary Jane in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and fan-made Wonder Woman short caused controversy after viewers argued that the footage was more focused on objectifying the character than showcasing action.

The timing is now, and needed, for a strong female superhero. Could that person be Adrianne Palicki’s Lady Jaye in G.I. Joe: Retaliation?

Sure, in the comics and cartoon, Lady Jaye was a weapons expert, but being smart and tough didn’t help Scarlett or Baroness when they transitioned into live action in 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Rachel Nichols’ Scarlett was saddled withtwo goofy, globular breast shields, and Sienna Miller’s Baroness had to do all her fight scenes in askin-tight suit – with built-in six-inch heels. Plus, don’t forget the official Rise of Cobra poster – which seemed to pose Miller solely to show off her body (Scarlett Johansson struck a similar pose in certain Avengers’ posters).

During the press day for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights and TV’s most recent Wonder Woman) admitted she was initially scared that her Lady Jaye would end up too sexy to be taken seriously:

“It’s always nerve-racking to see what they’re going to do with your character. I was afraid they were going to put her in leather and spandex and sexualize the hell out of her.”

Instead, she was relieved when new-to-the-franchise director Jon M. Chu put her in fatigues and boxy vests:

“John had a really strong view of what she was going to be like. He wanted her when she was in civilian gear. She was wearing boy t-shirts and boy jeans, and not completely this sexual object. She was a strong chick, one of the boys, not standing out.”

Audiences have become so accustomed to seeing female fighters as the “hot chick,” it’s almost striking when Lady Jaye spends much of the film wearing an oversized blue t-shirt – as if she and the guys are going to wash cars (rather than star in a film). In addition, a major element of her character’s back story is that she joined the military solely to prove to her misogynist Army father that women could hold their own in a fight – her goal was to rise so high in the ranks that he’d be forced to salute her.

“Lady Jaye was just always such a badass. There are very few strong female characters I think in Hollywood these days.”

Palicki does get one uber-glamorous scene when she slinks into a red dress – to try to squeeze information out of Jonathan Pryce’s double-dealing president:

“She’s able to use her femininity when needed as a tool.”

Still, Lady Jaye isn’t entirely one of the boys – and G.I. Joe: Retaliation pays tribute to the  long-running romance between the character and D.J. Cotrona’s Flint.

Can this incarnation of Lady Jaye make amends for the last month of anti-female superhero chatter? We’ll find out when G.I. Joe: Retaliation hits theaters on March 28th.

Check back soon for more interviews with the cast and crew. However, if you’re eager for more G.I. Joe Retaliation info right now, make sure to check out the G.I. Joe: Retaliation news archive – which includes the following featured articles along with much more:

G.I. Joe: Retaliation opens on March 29, 2013.