Those who were hoping for a kick-ass female action hero hacking and slashing her way through the big screen have a giant battle-axe to grind.
In the very first article I wrote for TheTorchOnline.com, I discussed how the role of women has changed significantly in fantasy-action movies, and how a new era of action-oriented female characters was upon us. In the wake of the small-screen successes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena: Warrior Princess, women were no longer damsels in distress, but full-fledged heroes.
I ended the article mentioning that in the future, while it’s nice that women are finally being given more active parts, it would be great if they could do so and not be so transparently used for sexual objectification. And I capped it off with, “We’re all looking at you, Red Sonja remake.”
So what happened?
A year ago, it looked like the Red Sonja project, produced by Robert Rodriguez and starring Rose McGowan, was moving ahead at full speed. Both Rodriguez and McGowan spoke of the tone of the film, claiming a dark and gritty aesthetic, and a teaser poster with McGowan atop a mountain of skulls was even released.
But then, something happened. In April of this year, McGowan announced via a tweet that she left the project for another remake of an 80s barbarian film, Conan. Some sources claimed the studio that was producing Red Sonja had financial problems. Some say it was originally delayed because McGowan was injured on the set of Grindhouse.
No matter what the truth is, the fact remains that those who were hoping to see a female action hero playing the lead in her own sword-and-sandals film will have to wait.
Studios always seem nervous about financing female-driven action movies, unless they’re by Quentin Tarantino. Our own Heather Hogan wrote about this recently, discussing the paucity of female superhero films. One of the points that Heather made, which I agree with 100%, is that studios will point to movies like Elektra and Catwoman as evidence that such movies don’t do well with audiences. What they’re ignoring is the fact that those films had awful scripts, poor effects, and essentially played out like a series of missed opportunities.
This past season I had the misfortune of sitting through the dreck that was Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Clash of the Titans. Do I think they’re proof that Hollywood should avoid Greek mythology material? Of course not. They’re only proof that those specific movies sucked.
While, at least according to the cast lists, there is an action-oriented woman in the Conan script, she’ll still be playing second fiddle to the titular hero, and our hopes for a headlining heroine on par with Xena are dashed for now.
But I’m hopeful for the future. If Conan is really well-made and does well in the box office, maybe history will repeat itself and a Red Sonja film will be released in its wake.
We’re all looking at you, Conan remake.
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