A few days ago on The School Gate, you’ll have seen us waxing a bit too lyrical about the lush new Doctor Who. Long story short – it’s brilliant, it’s got a woman in it, it’s well diverse (not that this should be a big deal in 2018 but, well, y’know) and it’s done massive numbers in the ratings. Yay for TV! (This post contains affiliated links.)
The best news however is that 378,000 girls watched the opening episode vs 339,000 boys – that’s compared to the 143,000 girls who watched last year’s Doctor Who opener as opposed to 390,000 boys. So girls can be geeks and, yes, they can like the same nuts nerdy stuff as boys rather than just a sanitised Mrs Spacelady Vacuums The Universe And Beyond. Or something.
So Doctor Who is brilliant again and safe for girls. We’ll just save ourselves 200 words here and embed this clip. Watch it and we’ll see you in a minute and a bit.
— 🏳️🌈Ofjoseph Trout🔮 (@Jenny_Trout) July 16, 2017
See what we mean? You’re welcome.
So what equally mainstream movies came out this year that we can show our lasses (and lads) that show women in a strong, positive, ass-kicking way? We feel a female friendly films list coming on!
First our criteria:
– Populist films here please – we’ve got to persuade the kids to watch these and there’s no way we’re gonna get anything arty through even with the biggest Ice Blast promise.
– Oh, and family friendly. PGs and 12s. No Deadpool 2. Got it?
– Accent on the sci-fi and superhero where possible. Again, we need to get everyone in and, beyond Fortnite YouTube dance compilations, these are the only types of movie we can get our house of boys to watch. And yes, our girl guinea pig watches them too.
– Most importantly, it MUST pass the infamous Bechdel Test! You can read up on Alison Bechdel’s amazing set of rules here but the short version is for a film to pass the test, it must have at least two named women in it who talk to each other about something besides a man. Sounds easy? Well, step forward The Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II and the ENTIRE Lord of the Rings trilogy. Shame on you.
And with the rules set… To Nerdsville and beyond!
Ant-Man and the Wasp
The latest Marvel blockbuster may be a bit one joke (big things go small, small things go big) but the scripts are well zippy, Paul Rudd is as amazing as ever and women actually have a voice (and a decent right hook), with Lost’s Evangeline Lilly at the titular Wasp and Michelle Pfeiffer playing the original version of the super heroine, thought lost to the quantum realm (keep up). Top fun for all wouldbe lady insect crime-fighters with more plans for the popular Pfeiffer in the future, according to the geek sites. Yes!
Avengers: Infinity War
The Russo Brothers’ superherofest just about passes the test (go check out https://bechdeltest.com/view/8178/avengers:_infinity_war/ if you want the pros and cons of the argument) which is an improvement on previous Avengers films but a bit disappointing if you consider it features EVERY SUPERHERO EVER EVER. That said, we’ll forgive the ever-limp Scarlet Witch (mopes around after The Vision and not much else) as it features the kickass Black Widow, a few passing Guardianesses of the Galaxy (Gamora is front and centre, given her dad Thanos is trying to off half the universe), sultry SHIELD Commander Maria Hill, ends on a rescue call from Nick Fury to (SPOILER ALERT) Captain ‘Brie Larson’ Marvel and – best of all – features all the cool female characters from Black Panther. Talking of which…
Black Panther! What looked like a guaranteed sleeper hit turned into THE superhero film it was okay to like. Hot villain (Michael B Jordan as Killmonger), amazing soundtrack (Kendrick Lamar, Jorja Smith, SZA etc) but most importantly a trio of strong, well-rounded female characters in Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the effortlessly cool Letitia Wright as Shuri – we recommend heading here for a detailed feminist reading of the film. $1.3 billion at box office worldwide, diverse audiences recorded worldwide and 2018’s second-highest-grossing film behind Avengers: Infinity War, here is a film that is a success on all levels. Wakanda forever!
Probably just about still showing at a multiplex near you, Holly Hunter’s Elastigirl remains the coolest mom hero ever with Mr Incredible now changing diapers at home. This time out, daughter Violet is wracked with believable teen angst after being hypno-dumped, while in Evelyn Best we have a supersmart supervillain with nefarious motivations which surprisingly aren’t a reaction to her lame brother Winston’s business successes. 14 long years we had to wait for this sequel – let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long for Incredibles 3.
Isle of Dogs
Away from all that superheroing, Wes Anderson’s latest was touch contentious for other reasons – the whiff of cultural appropriation never quite went away, even with all those good reviews and smart arty Easter eggs. Exchange student Tracy Walker (voiced by Greta Gerwig), Oracle (voiced by Tilda Swinton) and Yoko Ono (voiced by, er, Yoko Ono) are all strong female characters but despite being Wes Anderson nuts, we’ll withdraw the full recommendation due to Scarlett Johansson’s overly-passive femme fatale Nutmeg – talking tough but not actually doing anything much. “I love dogs” it is then. Just.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Okay, we never said we’d be recommending Shakespeare here. The Jurassic Park reboots have been proper rollercoaster thrill rides for sprogs into Jurassic larks but along with all the raptor madness comes some decent gags and women who actually talk about stuff beyond how admittedly adorable Chris Pratt can be. This time out, Owen (Pratt) and Claire (Madmen’s Bryce Dallas Howard) are embroiled in many a earth-shattering conspiracy involving the Isla Nublar island, but not before Claire and Dr Zia actually talk about, well, stuff. Small victories we know.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER! This may not be the easiest of sells to the whole family (our nine year-old girl wanted to give it a go, our brood of thuggish boys… Well, no) but if you can make it, here is a film riddled with women singing, dancing, being ASTONISHINGLY happy and generally not shooting things with lasers. And it’s got Cher in it! Cher! Anyway, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again actually manages to pass the Bechdel Test in the trailer (!) and for that alone should be lauded. $319 million at the box office worldwide can’t be wrong.
My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Forgotten Friendship
And while we’re getting a few tough sells through… My Little Pony is here because it is THE most Bechdel-friendly film ever made. Why? Because everyone (apart from the Micro Chips character) is a girl, they ALL have names and they talk about pretty much everything apart from men. All of which is pretty good going for a selection of animated gee-gees called Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle, both of which we’d choose the next time we’re in Superdrug after cheapo nail varnish. Cute fun and, hey, all the better for it. Bless.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Back in Superheroland for our last film but it’s a sold gold goodie. Teen Titans Go! is a fantastic, award-winning show from Cartoon Network, with emo grrl Raven and alien poppet Starfire being sassy interpretations of the original comic book characters. It’s funny as hell, packed with knowing DC trivia and sight gags and… Actually, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies only just squeezes past the Bechdel Test (main female character Jade Wilson is actually male villain Slade Wilson) but we forgive it thanks to its killer opening all-girl short The Late Batsby, about a errant Batgirl and based on the amazing Lauren ‘Super Best Friends Forever’ Faust’s forthcoming DC Super Hero Girls show which will be SUPER BRILLIANT FOR GIRLS AND EVERYONE!!!!!
We could go on (and if we did, we’d mention Pacific Rim: Uprising and maybe the new Maze Runner film) but maybe better to list a few films out there which didn’t pass the Bechdel Test. GUYS, EVEN THE MEG PASSES THE BECHDEL TEST!! If we were mean, we’d set Minnie on them…
• Christopher Robin: Get stuffed, Obi-wan.
• Early Man: Prehistoric? PreHERstoric, more like. Cheers.
• Solo: A Star Wars Story: Quick quiz: what was the lady villain’s name? Us neither.
• Love, Simon: I KNOW, RIGHT?! US TOO!
• Deadpool 2: They killed her to advance the plot, people!
Ah, what the hell. Minnie? Go get ’em!
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