ByElise Jost, writer at
"It's a UNIX system! I know this!" Twitter @elisejost
Elise Jost

The Bechdel test consists of checking whether a movie involves two female characters talking to each other about something other than a man. That might seem oddly specific, but plenty of box office hits don't meet this requirement. While you could disagree with the relevance of the test in regards to a movie's appeal to female audiences, it has helped point out a major problem in Hollywood: the lack of complex, fully fleshed out female characters in movies.

All bad things come to an end, though. Blockbuster producers are finally starting to give female heroes the spotlight they deserve, with tentpoles such as the upcoming Wonder Woman, and it's not just up to indie films anymore to prove that a female main character is worth watching. So on October 11, the International Day of the Girl, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn took to Facebook to pen a heartfelt post about his commitment to creating compelling female characters in his stories — and guess what, he's not here for any of your PC/SJW/feminist agenda accusations.

The 'Perfect Female Warrior' Is Not The Perfect Solution To The Lack Of Female Characters In Movies

The power of James Gunn's statement lies in the fact that he's aware that sprinkling a movie with total girl badasses who kind of popped out of nowhere isn't a solution. No one wants female representation to feel forced, or to become a race against the number of male heroes. In the end, creating "the perfect female warrior" is just the same flat and stereotypical character as the hot wallpaper babe.

I am sick of stories where there are a bunch of fully realized male characters and one female character, whose primary characteristic is simply being "the girl" or the personality-less object of some man's affections. I'm not sick of this because I’m politically correct — those of you who know me know I am far from that — but because it's boring, and it's b.s. Likewise, I don't think only making female characters "strong" is a fix either — you see her all the time these days, the perfect female warrior, who is a reaction to the stories of the past, but who is equally as boring and one-dimensional.

Which Is Why Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 Involves Several Female Characters With Each Their Own Story

We already saw that Zoe Saldana's green-skinned character Gamora wasn't going to let herself be stepped on by anyone in the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Still, there's plenty left to explore in her relationship with her brooding sister, as well as the introduction of a new female character, Mantis. None of them ever threaten Peter Quill's awesomeness, either. So, a team of male and female outlaws that are each as cool and lovable as each other? That's possible?

I can't wait for you all to see 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,' with Gamora, Nebula, and Mantis in action, where we not only pass the Bechdel test, but run over it and back up over it again and again in an eighteen-wheeler truck, and where their stories and the men’s stories don't come at the expense of each other, but are interwoven in a way to strengthen and optimize all of them.

Movies Need To Speak To Everyone

While awesome male characters certainly don't stop female audiences from enjoying a movie, it's a different thing to make them identify with the story. Take Star Wars, for example: When the original movies came out, it wasn't impossible for girls to imagine themselves as a Jedi, even if the main saber action went to the men. However, when Rey appeared in The Force Awakens, girls could fully imagine themselves being her. As Gunn points out, his stories can't only rely on his perspective of the world as a man — they have to include his as well as other people's.

As a person I am a man; as a writer, I need to be everyone. Only in this way will our art and our entertainment adequately express life and inspire all of us.

Preach, James, preach.


Which female character are you looking forward to in 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2'?

[Source: James Gunn's Facebook page]


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