One reason that Veronica Mars is both a compelling character and an excellent detective is her ability to occupy a number of liminal spaces. The "in between" roles that Mars navigates recur in almost every scene of the show’s three seasons. As an adolescent, she straddles the world of children and adults. Using her fresh face and small frame, she manages to avoid suspicion, work as a babysitter, and infiltrate sororities. Simultaneously, she employs the real-world savvy – as well as costumes and accents – that she has developed from working in her father’s office to spy on adulterers and imitate older professionals.
Mars is perpetually in transition, moving from rich to poor and from popular to outcast. In the first episode, her wealthy best friend is murdered, and Mars is subsequently ostracized because of her father’s fall from his position as sheriff. Although she considers herself an outsider, Mars is familiar with the activities and secrets of the social elite at her school. She retains that knowledge while affiliating with other social outcasts – including the new student, Wallace, and “nerds” like Mac, who help with her investigations. It is Mars’ chameleon-like abilities and her seemingly age-inappropriate wit that make her a complicated character for the audience, her friends and her enemies.
Mars also exists between innocence and guilt, victim and criminal – making her a character you want to embolden but also protect. With the recent release of the Veronica Mars movie, she had to navigate these contradictions once again – as an adult. In the film, we see that the adult Mars is no longer capable of the versatility that defined her as a teen. Although she is becoming a lawyer in New York, she cannot commit to a truly adult role. She reverts to her old dress habits and behaviors when she arrives back in California, even though her old friends are accepting adulthood (Mac, Logan Echolls). As a teen, Mars longed to play the role of an adult. But once she has proven she is capable of adulthood she longs for the adventure of her teen years. In the end, maybe she is more like Dick Casablancas, committed to eternal adolescence. The very liminal position that made her so versatile and powerful in the TV show becomes her downfall in the film.