Do We Really Need More ‘Female Variant’ Franchise Films?

With the release of Ocean’s 8 last month, there has been talk about what other possible female film variants could be made next. But should there be any more?

What does the cinema-scape need? It doesn’t need more old franchises resurrected with a female cast. New stories, new characters, new places and new talent behind the camera is what is really needed. Both Ghostbusters in 2016 and Ocean’s 8 this year were fantastically cast and executed, but unfortunately the backlash for the former was so overwhelmingly awful, to the point of harassing and abusing cast member Leslie Jones off of social media, that it makes the studios nervous about trying new things.

Even for franchises such as Star Wars, introducing lead female characters didn’t go down well, with some so-called fans spouting sarcastic comments such as ‘oh great another female lead. How original’.

Really?

Having a female lead in a franchise where she isn’t the sidepiece is actually new and exciting. You don’t see anyone say the same about any other action/sci-fi/drama where a male character is front and center. But just remaking a film or bringing back a film franchise with women as the main characters is lazy. Sure, it’s a fun idea and it works, plus more women are given the opportunity to be front and center, at least in front of the camera – but it’s not enough.

Wonder Woman – the first (successful) superhero film to have a female character in a lead role and to be directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins – became the highest grossing film made by a woman, over taking (thank god) Mamma Mia. There was a huge deal being made about the fact the film was directed by a woman, as if this was a niche gimmick to add to the value if the film, rather than focus on talent. Luckily, Jenkins is returning for Wonder Woman 1984 and this has also led to other female directors, such as Ava DuVernay and Cathy Yan, taking the helm in future projects (DC’s New Gods and Birds of Prey, respectively). There is a glimmer of hope there.

But really, it’s still not enough.

I think the only way to combat the ridiculousness of the prejudice ‘fans’ is to change tactic. Start a new franchise.

After all, who would have thought that Pitch Perfect back in 2012 would have spawned two sequels to medium success – not me. What makes this franchise stand out further is that Elizabeth Banks and Trish Sie directed the sequels.

But if the studios insist on continuing with ‘female versions’ of old franchises, then they need to take cues from Pitch Perfect and Wonder Woman, and at very least, consider having a different point of view behind the camera.

Ocean’s 8 is in cinemas now.