Because you probably don’t need another one. Though I will say I enjoyed the film a lot, and Ed (Brubaker) was amazing! I waved at him and felt super proud.
But this is not a review of that film.
Before the film, as is customary, we watched trailers (Omg how good does guardians of the galaxy look?), and among them was the trailer for Divergent. Now, I can’t say whether I’ll be heading to see it or not. It looks kind of cool, for sure. But, more importantly, when the trailer came on I was struck with an incredible feeling. If I’d been a young girl (I know, I know, I’m hardly old, but you know what I mean) and there on the screen, amongst the multitudes of man-with-a-gun(tm) films, I saw a trailer like that of Divergent, I think elements of my life would have been different…that’s not an exaggeration. I sat there, as a 34-year old woman, grinning at the screen. Because here was a trailer for a female-lead action sci-fi playing right alongside hero films of the like I’ve always loved; as if it belonged there! Which it does, of course.
I felt very happy. I felt like small steps were being achieved and that we were on a road forward.
…And then my husband leaned in and told me what the young chap behind us had said when the trailer came on. Something along the lines of:
“Oh, look. A film about a young girl. And she’s special. And she’s not following the rules. It’s just another hunger games.”
…well, sadly, as much as I enjoyed winter soldier, that comment haunted me throughout the entire film. Because it reminded me that we are still living in a world where, on a consumer level, there is apparently room in our lives for about a billion films about angry white men holding guns, but only one film featuring a young female lead who is more than a love interest or a princessbride-in-waiting. It doesn’t matter if the plots and worlds of such films are entirely different to each other, what matters is only that it has a young female lead in an action fantasy genre and, ergo, its spot in the oeuvre of live-action film for this decade is already taken. ‘The chosen one’ has been a young male lead more times than we can count (Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Avatar: The last Airbender…and, yes, I enjoy those films too), but the female chosen one is apparently like the Highlander. There really can be only one (per decade).
We can watch two versions of the same story with Spider-Man within decades of each other (and again, I love Spider-Man), or we can watch sequel after sequel of one guy in a vest blowing shit up in different ways (again, awesome), but two different films, each featuring a young female lead who fights the system in some way: nope. They’re the same film. How unoriginal.
I don’t want to see limits on any kind of film production. Man-with-a-gun films have their place; are fun. Why limit them when we can enjoy them? Hell, I’ve watched films over the years which are practically carbon copies aside from the actors (“he’s an ex-cop, he’s angry, they hurt the woman he loves, he’s out for revenge, blah blah”), and I can still enjoy them and accept each on its own choices. It’s all about balance. Just make things equal. But somehow I get the sinking feeling that if someone pitched a film with a tough female lead who fought aliens, regardless of the plot, well - guess what? The answer would likely be: it’s been done.
I know it’s always easy in these cases to make sweeping statements that are unfair, because so much good IS being done, and I don’t want to detract from that. I’m not a film buff and I’m sure I’m missing a lot of progressive films out there. I’m sure there are some really valid counter-arguments that can be made to this post, and thank goodness for them. But as a member of a mainstream film audience - moments like that, sat in that cinema and feeling my emotional graph rise and plummet, remind me that we’ve a long way to go.