When it was announced that Star Wars: The Force Awakens would feature a predominant female lead, there was a huge outcry of upset fans claiming this was merely pandering to the feminazi’s of the world. What followed was unprecedented success for the character of Rey, and a slew of new films featuring female superheroes, role models, scientists, and even fish. Similar hatred was spewed when the Ghostbusters reboot and Rogue One were announced, but the people have spoken. The top 2 grossing films of 2016 (Finding Dory, Rogue One)* were centered on stories of girls; their struggles, their coming of age, and their realization of the power of their voices. Regardless of any opinion to the contrary, the female hero is here to stay, and let me just say, it’s about damn time.
Before anyone gets any more upset, let me explain. When you’re used to the world operating a certain way, and seeing reflections of yourself in every media facet, it’s understandable to be confused when that starts to change. Even still, 75% of Star Wars films are centered on a male coming of age story. When you think of the most iconic films of the last 3 decades, you’ll see a lot of one type of hero. Specifically, white dudes. In April of 2015, Forbes listed the most successful film franchises in this order: ** Marvel Cinematic Universe, Harry Potter, Star Wars, James Bond, Batman, The Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man, Shrek, Twilight, Transformers, X-Men, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Trek, The Fast and the Furious, and The Hunger Games. While many of these films have had some incredible women in role model worthy roles, many others have arguably presented women as nothing more than sexual objects (See: Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Fast and the Furious, Twilight). That doesn’t make a film unworthy by any means, but look how many of the franchises, all of which have 3 or more films, on this list are centered on white dudes. Twilight can be argued to have a lead role, but the poor portrayal of a character who serves no purpose other than to yearn after a male character shouldn’t really count. So that leaves us with The Hunger Games. I wanted to note again this list was compiled in early 2015, which was before Star Wars introduced Rey or Jyn Erso. Since introducing these characters, they have catapulted into the #1 spot with an advantage over #2 by almost 2 BILLION dollars. Audiences aren’t just waiting patiently for female leads anymore, we are using our pocket books to DEMAND them.
So cry all you want, but the female lead is here to stay. Don’t be surprised if you continue to see waves of films with powerful women at the helm. If you’re team fem-power, make sure you’re supporting it with your pocketbook. Go see films with powerful female roles, and keep an eye out for female directors and writers (We need to support the heroes behind the camera too). Be sure to support all women too: women of color, transgendered women, women of different abilities.
Here are just a couple of movies coming out this year that I am ecstatic about and are lead by powerful women:
- Hidden Figures (January 6th, 2017)
- Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe
- Beauty & The Beast (March 17th, 2017)
- Starring: Emma Watson, Emma Thompson, GuGu Mbatha-Raw
- Wonder Woman (June 2nd, 2017)
- Starring: Gal Gadot, Robin Wright
- Director: Patty Jenkins
- Star Wars: Episode VIII (December 15th, 2017)
- Starring: Daisy Ridley