I had no plans to see Tom Cruise's latest foray into the sci-fi genre, Edge of Tomorrow, and was instead content to wait to watch it from the comfort of my home (or ignore it completely, as I had Oblivion). My resolve to skip the movie didn't even waiver when my younger brother asserted that it was in fact, THE GREATEST MOVIE HE HAD EVER SEEN—because when you're a teenage boy, every movie with guns and explosions is THE GREATEST MOVIE YOU HAVE EVER SEEN.
However, despite my every intention of avoiding the film, I found myself in the theater Friday evening, because when someone offers to buy me a movie ticket—regardless of what it's for—I have no choice but to oblige. It's one of my many weaknesses.
And lo and behold, I actually enjoyed the movie. Really enjoyed it, in fact. It was entertaining, smart, funny, and filled to the brim the awesome CGI monsters—in short, everything an action movie should be.
But the thing that struck me most about the film was the character Rita Vrataski, played by the brilliant Emily Blunt. Rita became the face of the the war effort because of the unprecedented number of kills she made during a decisive battle. It was so refreshing to see a woman in a position to kick so much butt. In a genre where women are often left to be nothing more than the damsel in distress or the piece of eye candy, it was amazing to see such an unapologetically strong and smart woman leading the soldiers on the front line.
But as I was leaving the theater, I wondered what it would mean if the roles of Cruise and Blunt had been reversed, and we had followed Blunt through the endless cycle of Live. Die. Repeat. We've been seeing a greater number of women taking on leading roles in action-oriented movies, but they tend to be of the YA novel-turned-movie variety. I want to see more women headlining action films alongside spectacular explosions and wild car chases, instead of leaving the roles to aging actors (No disrespect to Tom Cruise. I love him immensely and he was awesome in EoT.)
And what if we were to take it a step further? What if Edge of Tomorrow had cast an actress such as Sandra Bullock or Viola Davis in Cruise's role, leaving two women to carry the film. I don't know about you, but I would KILL to have seen EoT with Bullock or Davis (or any number of other talented actresses) taking down the Mimics in giant mechanized exoskeletons.
Women have proven time and time again that they're are able to successfully lead popular movies with hits like The Heat and Bridesmaids, and yet studios still seem hesitant to cast them in the leads. Today's young girls and boys are being raised in a time where women such as Katniss Everdeen are the prime example of an action hero, and I think it's about time we expanded that list far beyond a handful of heroines. I'm tired of movies throwing in one woman and expecting it to be enough. No more, "We put one woman in the main cast, so we've done our duty."
It's my hope that seeing characters like Rita Vrataski will encourage studios and audiences to be more accepting of female action leads, because as Emily Blunt so wonderfully proves, they kick some serious butt.