What James Cameron Doesn’t Get About Strong Female Characters – Hollywood Reporter
While some may think Lucasfilm’s recent run of female leads are too much, the Star Wars films are actually just starting to scratch the surface of varied stories for women. Things get much more interesting in the extended universe, but the original trilogy gave us Princess Leia, another icon who was multilayered, and the barely there Mon Mothma. The prequels gave us Padme, who started out a royal and a diplomat, but could also fight if the situation called for it. The Force Awakens gave us Rey, Maz Kanata and Captain Phasma, three very different women. And Rogue One had the earnest yet somber Jyn Erso and a revitalized Mon Mothma, who unfortunately still didn’t get much development. That’s eight films and seven female characters.
The last few years have had a run of interesting female characters who can certainly fight but have a bigger story to tell as well. Katniss from The Hunger Games, Hanna from Hanna, and Mad Max: Fury Road’s Furiosa. This year saw Fury Road‘s Charlize Theron pick up another fighter, the spy Lorraine Broughton in Atomic Blonde. And what about Dafne Keen’s turn as Laura (X-23) in Logan? But are we limiting our scope to just action films when we discuss these characters? Because there’s a lot more out there. Hidden Figures and Spider-Man: Homecoming had several, varied female characters with significant roles. The Zookeeper’s Wife, Their Finest, The Glass Castle and Colossal were all female-focused. What about female characters like Garance Marillier’s Justine in the cannibal horror story Raw, Holly Hunter’s Beth in The Big Sick, or Mckenna Grace’s Mary in Gifted?
Cameron continued by saying he doesn’t know why the film industry is so bad when it comes to depicting powerful women. “There are many women in power in Hollywood and they do get to guide and shape what films get made. I think – no, I can’t account for it. Because how many times do I have to demonstrate the same thing over again? I feel like I’m shouting in a wind tunnel!”
Hint: it’s sexism. Sure, there are women in positions of power in Hollywood, but they’re still up against a century of “this is how things are done.” As much progress as we think we’ve made, women in front of and behind the screen getting equal footing in the industry is still going at a snail’s pace. The Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy was doing heroic things on film in 1939. Did we see a run of young heroines on screen in the 1940s? No, they went right back to being love interests. So you can understand why, in 2017, when a female-led film as successful as Wonder Woman happens and we see Hollywood floundering, we can get more than a little frustrated.
For her part, Jenkins responded to Cameron’s comments on Twitter saying, “If women have to always be hard, tough and troubled to be strong, and we aren’t free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven’t come very far have we.”
Jill Pantozzi is a pop culture writer, critic and host focused on geek-friendly topics.