The Making of a Heroine

As anyone with even a passing familiarity with it will be aware, the critics have not been kind to Jupiter Ascending - it has a damning 23% ‘rotten’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences, for the most part, haven’t taken to it either, with the film getting a weak B- Cinema Score (this in a world where movie-goers gave Transformers: Dark of the Moon an A rating). While many aspects of the film have been attacked, its heroine has come under particularly intense criticism. These are just some of the reasons people have used to justify their dislike of the character:

1. She’s a damsel in distress! 

Me: I’d like to see how you’d cope in her shoes. What’s the shame in needing help to get out of dire situations?

2. She’s stupid!

Me: She’s as ‘stupid’ as anyone would be upon being thrown into a world where they know none of the rules and have no idea who to trust.

3. She doesn’t react upon being told about a crazy new world!

Me: Did you miss the wonder on her face when her and Caine were floating up from the tower in Chicago? When Stinger was explaining the true nature of the universe? I saw plenty of awe and wonder in her face and responses when she wasn’t distracted by trying to stay alive.

4. She asks too many questions!

Me: She doesn’t ask half as many questions as I would, actually. That aside, how on Earth is she meant to learn (or stop being stupid, as you would put it) if she doesn’t ask any questions?

5. She just went off sky skating while billions of lives are at risk on planets awaiting harvest! How callous can you get?

Me: She has just saved planet Earth from an evil space tyrant, and you want her to immediately go out and bring down the dominant power structure in the universe? That’s like saying that Luke, Han and Leia are despicable people at the end of Star Wars because they’re wasting time on an awards ceremony while the Empire’s still up and running.

These criticisms rile me intensely, and I think most of them can be put down to expectations - as a society, we value typically male traits such as physical strength, fighting skills and stoicism. The positive traits that Jupiter demonstrates - kindness, resilience and a strong moral core - are hardly valued. In film, these character traits are pretty much considered antiquated, the preserve of Disney princesses and children’s films. There are constant calls for movies to be darker and more bloody (think of the nerd rage that erupts whenever a comic-book adaptation is rated PG-13 rather than the coveted hard R rating, which we all know is synonymous with quality), and Jupiter Ascending doesn’t really pander to any of those instincts - its heroine only fights when she has to, and she never shoots to kill. 

While Jupiter Ascending has often been described as wish fulfilment and certainly contains elements of that (shirtless Channing Tatum, anyone?), I’d argue that another reason why it’s been summarily rejected is that it doesn’t make you want to be Jupiter. Throughout the film, Jupiter is exploited, manipulated and even violently attacked; her experiences are deeply traumatic, and it’s difficult to imagine anyone actively wanting to go through what she did. The film does make it possible to empathise with Jupiter - she’s likable, bright and endearingly awkward - but, because the progress she makes in the film is of such a personal and limited nature (essentially, she transitions from being unhappy and disaffected to feeling content and excited about the possibilities that the future holds), it fails to provide the power trip modern audiences seem to crave. While the “there’s no place like home” message was heart-warming and relatable for audiences back in 1939, it simply no longer cuts the mustard. 

Personally, I find most of the ‘empowering’ female characters you see in modern high-concept movies anything but (with the female title characters in Alice In Wonderland and Snow White and the Huntsman feeling particularly hollow to me). Such characters are empowered by having fantastical and entirely imaginary powers grafted onto them; their power, however grandly it may manifest itself, often feels shallow and pandering.

Jupiter Jones is increasingly reminding me of Sarah Williams, the lead character in Labyrinth. Both characters are frequently derided as the worst things in their respective movies, and they are often deemed unlikable and generally unimpressive as heroines. Like Jupiter, Sarah doesn’t possess any special powers or kick-ass fighting skills; she’s just a normal girl, alienated and resentful towards her thoroughly unwanted half-brother. While she doesn’t say as much, Sarah pretty much hates her life; however, she makes a mistake and has to go on a fantastical journey to put it right, learning to become more content with herself and her situation in the process. Ultimately, Sarah doesn’t defeat the Goblin King by showing her physical prowess or using her magic powers (she has neither); she defeats him by saying “you have no power over me” and possessing the self-belief to mean it.  Again, this is a small-scale evolution and it won’t really register unless you’re invested in the film and already feeling sympathetic towards Sarah as a character.

This kind of heroine appeals to me strongly, primarily because heroines like Jupiter and Sarah feel real and genuine to me in a way that characters like Alice and Snow White* simply don’t. Jupiter and Sarah are deeply flawed and prone to mistakes, but they are generally well intentioned and they both try their best to do the right thing; you can take the lessons that they learn and apply them in a real-world context.

While I find Jupiter and Sarah sympathetic and admirable, the simple truth is that they achieve things and demonstrate virtues that we simply don’t value highly enough as a society. They’re both heroines, but they’re not the right kind of heroines as far as modern audiences are concerned. And that, in my opinion at least, is a real shame.

What do you think? Do you feel there’s truth in this or take a different view?

*I had originally name-checked Ellen Ripley and Maleficent here, but reader comments made me realise that they really weren’t good examples for the point I’m trying to get across. And for the record, while I still don’t like Maleficent I love Ellen Ripley and the first two Alien movies (I think I only name checked her because I was having traumatic flash-backs to Alien: Resurrection).


Channing Tatum as Caine Wise & Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones in JUPITER ASCENDING (2015)

These are scans from the calendar. One page for the bottom set, but I had to make 2 scans because it’s too narrow & I wanted to get the whole thing. BOOM gorgeous :D  I thought these photos were among the high-res ones released but I haven’t found them.

100 Thoughts I had While Watching Jupiter Ascending

1.    I’m just here for Eddie Redmayne’s abs

2.    Okay, no abs yet…hey is that Mrs. S?

3.    Still no abs, but a man just died. Tragically dramatic opening…off to a good start…

4.     Baby Mila Kunis was born on a cargo ship…damn…forget everything else she’s going to grow up to be…she was born on a cargo ship…she already wins at life!

5.     Awww…look it’s Pip! Why didn’t anybody tell me Pip was going to be in this movie? I LOVE Pip!

6.     Totally worth $12.50 for Pip alone. Thanks Pip!

7.     What’s going on here? Was there a zombie apocalypse? Oh wait…it’s a “harvest”…

8.     “Harvest”? Really? Couldn’t have found a gentler word to call “the slaughtering of billions of people for the use of a youth serum”?

9.     Oh second thought…maybe there isn’t a gentler word for it.

10. Is that Eddie Redmayne…Yes it is! Is he shirtless?…no…go back to where you came from, Eddie, and don’t come back until you’ve decided to take your shirt off…

11. Why’s he whispering?

12. Oh, I get it, it’s cause he’s supposed to be old, isn’t it?

13. …is it?….Maybe not…but that would make sense…

14. And he’s still wearing his shirt! EDDIE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

15. This is some false advertising bullshit right here…do you know how many times I saw that shirtless abs-alicious movie poster on tumblr? That’s the whole reason I came to see this movie!!

16. …okay…I didn’t pay $12.50 for him to keep his shirt on.

17. For that extra 50 cents he should at least give me a glimpse in the first scene.

18. Oh look! It’s Mila Kunis all grown up!

19. They’re trying to convince us that she’s just a normal girl, as if we forgot that we all just saw her get birthed on a cargo ship! Of course she’s not a normal girl! NORMAL GIRLS ARE NOT BORN ON CARGO SHIPS…silly writers…

20. Scrubbing toilets doesn’t change the fact that she was born on a cargo ship

21. Quirky Russian family doesn’t change the fact that…oh nevermind…I give up…

22. Eddie’s back!

23. Still no abs…but he’s sort of shirtless…I assume…well I mean he’s taking a bath so I think that’s a safe assumption…unless he bathes with his clothes on…in a body suit that looks eerily similar to being completely naked…

24. Is that a live woman attached to his floaty thing?

25. Yes, yes it was a live woman.

26. This movie is awesome.

27. He’s still using that voice…there goes my “it’s cause he’s old” theory.

28. Still no abs.

29. Now…I love Mila Kunis…but she looks bored as hell in this movie…

30. It’s like she just came to use the WiFi and somehow found herself caught up in the middle of some sort of psychedelic spacy movie and just sort of went with it.

31. She doesn’t even look all that amazed by those creepy alien things.

32. She’s all like, “Ah, kinda weird…but I’ve seen better.”

33. Of course you’ve seen better, Mila Kunis! You were born on a cargo ship!

34. In her defense, it’s hard to be impressed with anything when you started off your life being born on a cargo ship.

35. The aliens just Men in Blacked Mila and the blonde chick.

36. She wants to buy a telescope on ebay?

37. If she’s going to shell out that much money for a telescope, there are tons of way better places to buy a telescope than ebay.

38. I mean ebay is where you go only when you don’t want to pay full price for something.

39. Is selling your eggs a legit way to make that much cash that quickly? I mean in real life…cause, shit man, that’s some easy money right there…the things I would do with that money…I could buy a telescope with that money…

40. This clinic be sketchy as hell

41. Yup, aliens attacked her. This is exactly why you don’t sell your eggs at sketchy clinics.

42.  Action, Action, Action. Channing Tatum growls like a wolf.

43. Oh! It’s because he IS a Wolf! That’s awesome!


45. ABS!!!

46. He’s just sitting around, in a cape, flashing his abs, like it’s no big deal…this scene is awesome…

47. Eddie Redmayne should get an Oscar.

48. WHOA! He just screamed for no reason at all…Oscar is in the bag.

49. Wait that’s it? Now we’re back to Mila Kunis? Where’d my abs go?

50. “You don’t know me, but I saved you from aliens. Wanna go on a road trip with me?” “Since you’re hot, sure!”…don’t even try to tell me she’d react the same way if he were ugly.  

51. Sean Bean!

52. Hold up! I’ve never been stung by bees before, what does that say about me?

53. But then, I guess, I wasn’t born on a cargo ship so…

54. Eddie Redmayne has his shirt on again in this scene. I’ve got nothing to say to you Eddie.  

55. And Mila Kunis just got kidnapped by a Space Princess…of course she did…

56. This is the kind of shit I miss out on for not being born on a cargo ship.

57. Mila Kunis is the reincarnated mom of Space Princess and her Space Brothers (including Eddie Redmayne and his abs). Cool…I could get on board with that.

58. So Mila Kunis is a Queen with no expectation or obligation to actually rule over anything…bit like Oprah…and Queen Elizabeth II…

59. Okay…so Space Princess’ only job was to take a bath in front of Mila Kunis before passing her along to Pip.  

60. But not before going through the DMV to get Mila Kunis her Queen license

61. Now she’s getting kidnapped by Pip.

62. Awww…look at Mila Kunis getting herself kidnapped over and over again like she’s some sort of Kim Mills.

63. Pip is hot though. Is he Eddie Redmayne and his space abs hot? Maybe not…but hot enough for kidnapping to be socially acceptable (ish), in a Hollywood film.

64. Which is exactly why, I’m sure, Mila Kunis is reacting to this whole thing with such a nonchalant demeanor.  

65. Whoa…Pip wants to marry Mila Kunis!

66. That’s your mom, Pip! THAT’S YOUR MOM!

67. This is some Oedipus shit right here…

68. Strangely enough, I’m okay with it.

69. Pip tells Mila Kunis that the youth bath is really made from human juice.

70. He also tells her that 100 people makes one vial of Human Juice. And what does she do? She drops it….

71. Mila Kunis just wasted the lives of 100 people…good job.

72. The product is called Regenex…yeah good call….it’s probably better to name it that…calling it Human Juice probably wouldn’t sell as well.

73. Elaborate wedding scene. I wonder if I could float down the aisle when I get married,

74. I probably can’t.

75. On second thought, I’m terrified of heights and that looks dangerous.

76. Nah…I’ll just walk down the aisle when I get married. Much safer.

77. Yay! Channing Tatum just crashed the wedding!

78. Why is she so devastated to find out that Pip was planning on killing her after the wedding. She should have expected it. I mean for reals, girl. Haven’t you ever seen a movie before? He’s a bad guy! It’s what bad guys do!

79. Hold up, isn’t Eddie Redmayne in this movie? Where has he been?

80. Maybe he realized his abs wouldn’t be getting as much screen time as he originally thought and refused to make any further appearances in this film.

81. I feel you, Eddie…

82. Nothing like an alien invasion in the living room to break up a family squabble.

83. For a guy with so much money, Eddie Redmayne is surprising shitty at hiring competent henchmen.

84. Seriously, kidnapping Mila Kunis’ family is the first thing they’ve gotten right all movie.

85. Which, considering kidnapping Mila Kunis was their main goal, it’s amazing they failed so epically that many times. We’ve all seen how easy kidnapping Mila Kunis is.

86. It’s so easy even I could do it.

87. Though it might help if I were a hot guy.

88. Or a Space Princess.

89. Which I’m not….

90. Oh look! Eddie’s back!

91. And yet again, no abs. Why even bother making a movie poster with his abs if this is the shit they’re gonna pull?

92. This dude has got the best lines in the entire movie. Why didn’t they give him more screen time?

93. Whoa…that escalated quickly.

94. Seriously, Mila Kunis, how dare you! He loved his mother!

95. Did he just fall to his death?! He can’t just fall to his death!! No!!

96. I’m devastated.

97. This is the most depressing ending to a film ever.

98. You don’t deserve that telescope, Mila Kunis! You killed Eddie!

99. The end credit scene better show Eddie alive and well, Loki style.

100. And it didn’t. This just ruined my night. I don’t even wanna talk about it.


so my uncle told me that Viggo acted in a movie about this french dude during the algerian war who helped an innocent algerian from going to prison or something like that, and he said that he couldn’t come to algeria but he apologised about it in a video and spoke in algerian, but i didn’t believe him until i saw it, i saw the video and i’m just dead tight now

my first reaction was:

and then i was like: