Little is known about Vanessa's life prior to meeting Hermann Gottlieb. She was born in England and later becomes a professional model.
At some point in time she meets Hermann and begins a relationship that later results in their marriage.
According to Travis Beacham, Vanessa may have started out as a awkward young woman before maturing. Her confidence following has made her "striking" and "a presence". She equals Hermann in "wit and capacity".
Vanessa is a woman of mixed heritage with long and tight black curly hair. Vanessa is tall with features that may have been "awkward" for her during her youth, but have since become "quite striking" with confidence and adulthood.[note 1]
Vanessa Gottlieb is mentioned in Pacific Rim: Man, Machines & Monsters, listed as Hermann's next of kin. Her relation to Hermann was later revealed in the official novelization. Herman's dossier listed her as his wife.
On August 17, 2013, when asked about Vanessa, Travis Beacham confirmed that she was Hermann's wife and that she was a model. August 25, 2013, he provided a brief description of what Vanessa could look like, answering that she could resemble actresses Gina Torres or Jasika Nicole. He further implied Vanessa was a biracial Black woman when answering more questions about her appearance.
Racism and Misogyny in Pacific Rim Fandom
Following his confirmation of Vanessa as a canon character and her relationship to Hermann, a part of the Pacific Rim fanbase reacted negatively to Vanessa and her named profession. Beacham was accused of sexism by fans who considered the profession of a model to be lesser when compared to a scientist. They believed Hermann would show no interest in a woman with "no say" in her career on account of the sexism prevalent in the modeling industry.
Beacham stated that he "left the interesting parts out" of his initial description. Reluctant to reveal more about her biographical information, Beacham stated that knowing what her profession was "knowing very little about her" and that "everyone is interesting enough if you ask the right questions", after elaborating his point with questions of her professional identity and relationship with Hermann.
Beacham's characterization of Vanessa as a biracial Black woman was seen as inclusive by woman of color. Supporters labeled arguments against Vanessa's profession as misogynistic for believing it lesser than a scientific position, or that Beacham's brief descriptors of Vanessa were evidence of her lack agency or character aside from being the wife of a main character. They also argued the reaction to Vanessa stemmed from radicalized misogyny prevalent in most fan spaces as other characters mentioned in the film's external media were not scrutinized or criticized as Vanessa had been.
Detractors believed that she was written solely to be the stereotypical "trophy wife". They argued their disagreement was justified on assumption of misogyny currently implied in her known characterization. They questioned her "necessity" to the canon of Pacific Rim and denounced the character as Beacham's attempt to deflect accusations of homophobia by fans who perceived Newton and Hermann as a romantic pair.
Beacham stated the supplementary material of Pacific Rim that did not contradict the film stood as long as "that possibility is not pointedly excluded by the expanded universe works subsequent to the fact of the film".
Supporters remained vocal in the defense of Vanessa as a canonical character and Hermann's wife following discussions of Hermann's assumed sexuality and dissection of slash culture said to marginalize Black and LGBT characters in favor of shipping two canonically straight and white men together. Other means of support of Vanessa Gottlieb as a canonical character in the Pacific Rim universe were exhibited through fan art, blogs and discourse with other fans of the character.
- ↑ Travis Beacham: "Mixed race. Nice glasses. Long, tightly-curled black hair that tends to flare a little wispily. Very tall. A sum of features that may have at one point in her life been a bit awkward for her, but her effortless confidence has since made something quite striking of it all. She’s a presence."