Strong Female Characters (and Why Joss Whedon Should *Not* Direct Batgirl) #JusticeforBatgirl
Alright guys, let’s sit down a minute and talk about how great it’s been for females and cinema for the past few years or so.
It’s not been perfect, but any positive progress is better than none at all.
Over the past several years, think about all of the strong female characters we’ve seen onscreen. Hermoine Granger. Rey. Jyn Erso. Natasha Romanoff. Lilo. Astrid Hofferson. Mulan. Moana. Anna. Elsa, Katniss Everdeen…The list goes on. However, in the past couple of years, we’ve seen women like
Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson,
and Katherine Johnson from Hidden Figures, Louise Banks (Arrival), and more recently Wonder Woman, really take the empowering female figure role and make something unique with it.
But why is this important?
People need to see women as they are: strong, confident, vulnerable, happy, sad, angry, complicated. Women can be saved or do the saving. They can fight a villain or have a cup of tea. They should not be used as an object.
Let me say it a bit clearer: Women are more than the body.
Take for example, every Transformers movie female (excluding any from The Last Knight because I haven’t seen it…)…What are they? Eye candy. In Age of Extinction alone, it was mentioned how “hot” or how “gorgeous” Tessa was several times within the first few minutes of her screen time. And Megan Fox’s character was battered with these same stereotypes over the few movies she was in. No mention of how “hot” the guys were. Just the ladies. But that’s not Nicola Peltz or Megan Fox’s fault. It’s the creative decisions made by Michael Bay.
Yes, we females have grown to roll our eyes and sigh heavily every time these kind of stereotypical characters show up - why? Because it’s an annoying trope that is used far too much. Just think about this: why don’t we have movies where the guy is constantly fawned over for his looks? It’s because a movie like that wouldn’t be made. Guys wouldn’t like it and girls don’t want to see it.
So why can’t we just have a movie where the girl helps the guy save the day? Think about it like this: what if instead of the girl getting captured by the villain to be used as a plot device for the man, how about she goes along with the guy to help find a way to defeat the villain? (Obviously this is a crummy plot, but I’m just making a point.)
Let’s think about a couple examples: Natasha Romanoff in Age of Ultron and Jane Foster in Thor: The Dark World. Both were used as plot devices to help the man’s story (Natasha was supposed to help ease Bruce’s conscience about being a monster and Jane was basically the damsel in distress and used to motivate Thor into defeating the villain). When Natasha was locked up in that prison, you mean to tell me she was just gonna wait for Bruce to show up? Whedon’s Romanoff…Obviously. Same with Jane. Was she just going to waste away with the Infinity Stone? According to the movie, yes. (By the way, please don’t take this as an attack/hate towards the Bruce x Natasha and Thor x Jane ships…We all should be able to ship what we want.)
Now, I am in no way trying to bash the characters at all…My sister loves Jane Foster and I am pretty much obsessed with Natasha Romanoff. However, I am instead stating my opinions on the creative decisions made for these ladies in these two movies. (Interesting enough, Patty Jenkins actually wanted no part of Thor 2 due to some of these poor decisions).
Yet, all of this brings me to my next point: the issues with certain men writing female characters.
This past week, Joss Whedon’s script for Wonder Woman was leaked. To save you the horror, I will include a summary of certain parts. (Some of it is too disgusting to post here). Basically it includes lots of female hate, Steve Trevor being an arrogant jerk (depressing, I know), and extensive (and often crude) descriptions of Diana Prince’s physique and how it helps her get her what she wants.
The film we got? It was a beautiful story of a woman finding her place in the world. She was complex, yes, but at the end of the day, the Diana we got was a kind woman who only wanted the best for everyone else. Steve Trevor was the sweet sidekick that could handle himself, yet encourage and support Diana and her decisions. Sameer, Chief, and Charlie were amazed by Diana, but didn’t go on and on about how they should lead. Why? Because they understood that she could handle herself just fine. But not once did she intimidate them into feeling inferior - the team all used their gifts to help others.
So, I come to my final point…Wonder Woman is an example of how women should be written in films…Not necessarily kick butt goddesses, but complex people. I’m terrified to see Batgirl’s story translated on film when Joss Whedon is making all of the creative decisions.
The point of this post was not to bash anyone, but instead take into account how women should be portrayed onscreen.
I hope Batgirl is given the same complex characterization Jenkins’ Wonder Woman received, however, I’m scared she will only be an object and won’t be used as an example for future generations of boys and girls.
I will end this post with one more sentence from Wonder Woman: “It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.”
Yes, it’s that simple.
By the way, please feel free to use the #JusticeforBatgirl hashtag on social media to start the discussion on the importance of empowering female characters.