This past week, actresses Gillian Anderson and Priyanka Chopra have expressed interest in playing James Bond. I mulled over the idea of a female James Bond for a few days, wondering why I didn’t like the idea. I’m all for female action heroes. I’m all for seeing a badass female superspy take over the silver screen. But ‘female James Bond?’ I didn’t like it. (Personally, I really like the idea of Jamie Bell as 007: I think it would give him a chance to really prove his acting chops, and a younger Bond would be a fun deviation from the typical middle-aged slot. That being said, Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston are also amazing choices.)
It took me a while to figure out why the idea of a female James Bond didn’t sit well with me. Women are angry, as they have every right to be. Female characters are often reduced to love interests or eye candy. That’s extremely aggravating. However.
James Bond is a male role. 007 might be a role anyone could fill, but James is a man. If you put a woman in the role of James Bond, two things happen:
You lower the importance of men. Men and women enjoy James Bond. He’s basically a tradition by this point. It’s not the idea of a female 007 that irks, me, but the idea of a female James, of taking over a well-loved character and fundamentally changing them in the name of gender equality. (Do I like all incarnations of James Bond? Ugh, no. I can’t stand most of them. Pierce Brosnan was the first I didn’t loathe, and Daniel Craig is the first I love. I can barely stomach Sean Connery in the role.)
You lower the importance of women. Really, you want to settle for replacing the gender of a fictional character? Come ON! Demand your own movie franchise. Having a female James Bond is a fairly petty victory, if you want to call it that. It doesn’t lift women up or promote their importance – it says we’re insecure and demanding. Insecure isn’t how we want to be portrayed. Don’t just give us a female James Bond. Give us a brand-new character (played by Natalie Dorm— I mean, whoever) with her own story to tell and her own villains to defeat.
I dislike the idea of a replacing a well-known, well-loved, traditionally male fictional character with a female for ‘equality’ because it isn’t equality. It’s settling for far less than we deserve – but it’s also making a subtle statement that men don’t matter to the franchise or the viewers. Men and women both deserve better than a female James Bond.
I’m not saying I’d be done with the franchise if a woman played 007, but…I want a movie starring a woman in her own role, not stealing a man’s. I want to see more female characters who aren’t just kicking men out of the picture or attempting to out-do them: I want to see them in their own element, as different as those elements might be depending on the character. I want to see women being themselves, not being ‘the female version’ of a male character. What a radical idea.
I’ve seen Rey (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) get bashed by not only the media, but friends I know and love. She’s been called self-centered, a brat, and even ‘trash.’ I legitimately do not understand how you can watch the movie and come away with these opinions. To each their own, but it honestly baffles me; so in the name of this bafflement, I see your name-calling and raise you some truths.
Let’s start with the first name: “Brat.”
She was abandoned on a desert planet as a child, and she grew up surrounded by cheaters, scavengers, thieves, and those who would do her harm. She leads a thankless life just to survive, and she hauls scrap across dunes every day just so she can eat that night. The people she meets are cheaters and thieves. She has trust and abandonment issues. So how is it ‘bratty’ to behave as she does? She’s wary of strangers, but she rescues BB-8 and lets him come home with her. She views Finn as an enemy because BB-8, the first friend she can probably remember having, calls him a thief. However, once she discovers Finn is not an enemy, she’s excited to meet him.
She wants to know about his work in the Resistance. She’s curious about life outside her planet, and she clearly longs to be elsewhere, doing other things – but her loyalty, her hope, that someone will come back for her keeps her on Jakku. She is anything but a brat – and in fact we see who she is at the beginning of the movie (closed-off, alone, self-reliant) begin to crack as she befriends Finn and becomes involved in something important with other people. She’s thrilled to see a planet of green. She’s shocked that Finn would rather flee than help. She squeals excitedly with Finn when they managed to escape their enemies. She apologies immediately after finding Luke’s lightsaber. She never once acts as though she’s ‘above’ anyone else. Brat? She’s anything but. And as for her ability to fight being called ‘trying too hard’ – fine, you try surviving alone on a hostile planet without learning to defend yourself and take initiative. See how long you last.
If by ‘self-centered’ you mean she has spent her whole life waiting for her family (even though she knows they’ll never return) and is now intent on helping a Resistance she barely knows a thing about. Sure. Self-centered. I think her quick thinking and ability to learn as she goes irritate some people, because it’s ‘unrealistic,’ but there are numerous arguments for why it is not unrealistic. Rey is clearly force-sensitive, she’s intelligent, and she learns. She doesn’t have an arrogant, “I can do it all” attitude – she is strong because she refuses to give up. Maz tells her about the Force and she recalls Maz’s words later, and she uses them. She tries and she tries again. She is anything but self-centered, constantly putting herself in danger to help others (who are practical strangers to her). She becomes attached to Han Solo very quickly. She’s reached a point where she can embrace Leia, a woman she barely knows – where at the beginning of the movie, the idea of even holding Finn’s hand was foreign to her. She grows and blossoms so much in this movie, but never once is she ‘self-centered.’ In fact Finn (whom I love dearly) proves more self-centered than she is, and you don’t see anyone bashing him about his desire to run away (and run away, and run away). ‘Self-centered?’ I’m sorry. I just don’t understand this accusation.
I have one thing to say to this: if Rey’s selflessness, hope, humility, enthusiasm, and determination make her ‘garbage,’ then the garbage will do.
So says Superman, just before flying away to kill (or try to kill) Batman – or see his mother burned to death at the hands of Lex Luthor. Is this a somewhat uncharacteristic stance for Superman? It is, but one thing this movie tries to do is show us – black and white are sometimes gray. Sacrifices must be made. Batman v Superman tries to accomplish many things within a three-hour window, and makes many sacrifices to squeeze them all in. It has a lot to say – or try to say, but whether it says it well…we’ll see.
This was a very different view of Batman and Superman than we usually get. We saw the struggle as they deal with their role in society – their responsibility to mete out justice, and the eternal question – who decides what justice really is? I think it was a good glimpse behind the curtains of Metropolis and Gotham; a glimpse into the daily battle taking place in the heroes’ heads.
WHAT I LIKED
•There’s a pivotal, lynchpin moment where Superman, struggling to breathe under the crushing weight of Batman’s near-victory, tells Batman that he needs to save Martha. “Why did you say that name?” Batman bellows, and not until Superman explains why he’s there, that he needs help, does Batman realize their mothers share a first name. It’s a key moment, where something as simple as their mothers sharing a name changes Batman’s course of action. He tells Superman he won’t let Martha die – something he’s been wishing he could say since he was a little boy, violently orphaned in an alley. It was a beautiful moment, and I loved it.
•Wonder Woman. Ahem. Also, fun little cameos from the Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa), teasing their upcoming movies. I’m also going to say that Jeremy Irons was a fun Alfred with A+ style.
•Superman really is trying to do the right thing, and whether he’s well-written or not, that’s always an admirable quality. He wants to save and protect the people on this planet, but he struggles with the chaos and the burden of responsibility; as well as whether his relationship with Lois Lane is actually going to work. He’s willing to sacrifice himself to save everyone, while being fully aware of the danger.
•I loved getting to see the grim(mer) side of Batman in this film; the world-weary, jaded man who has spent too many years plucking up one weed, only to watch more grow as soon as the roots pull free. We see Batman struggle with the carnage left behind in the wake of Superman’s battle with General Zod, and it’s obvious that the deaths of these people hit very close to home for Batman. In that sense, you can understand his hatred of Superman…even if it isn’t executed terribly well. (Bonus: The gravelly voice is the result of a microphone, not deep-seated throat cancer!)
•Jesse Eisenberg was a fantastic Lex Luthor…although his Luthor played much more like the Riddler than the Luthors we’re used to. Still, he was very convincing as Superman’s crazed nemesis; giving us a delicate balance of ‘wow, he’s going to kill everyone’ and ‘okay, maybe he just needs a sedative and a hug, in that order.’
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
•DC movies are frequently dark, grim, gritty, and humorless – not to mention heavy-handed with their storytelling. It’s the reason why I would always pick Marvel over DC, and why I’m a staunch Marvel Girl (and everyone who knows me was shocked when I actually wanted to see Batman v Superman). I always find this ‘style’ to be fairly unenjoyable, but I’d say that’s more of a personal ‘con.’
•This movie tried to be a sweeping, broad, meta story raising questions of ‘God v Man.’ It raises questions like, ‘Is any power innocent?’ and ‘If God is absolutely good, can he be absolutely powerful?’ The only thing is…it never really tries to answer these questions. Or does it? It’s hard to tell with this movie – it feels like it wants to focus on eight different subjects, and the result is a disjointed film that looks promising and deep, but feels hollow and disappointing.
•Lex Luthor splices his dna with that of General Zod and apparently that creates an alien monster who…well, honestly, I think they just stole a mountain troll from the Lord of the Rings and gave it Superman powers.
•I said earlier that we see why Batman hates Superman, but the hatred was poorly written and badly executed. We feel like the Batman we know and love has a very sudden turnaround, going from hero to “WE’RE CRIMINALS ANYWAY IT DOESN’T MATTER I HATE HIM AND HE MUST DIE.” He’s supposed to be ‘set up’ and ‘pushed’ into feeling this way, but it really feels like Batman is easily manipulated and somewhat weak-minded, which we all know he isn’t.
I’m going to (once again, I’m sorry) compare DC to Marvel in order to explain why I feel the movie fell flat. Most of us are extremely excited terrified for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie. We’re attached to the characters. We care about Steve and Tony and Bucky and Wanda and Hawkeye and Nat. We’re emotionally invested. However, with Batman v Superman, they want us to be attached…and we aren’t, particularly. We aren’t given enough to go on. I thought maybe we actually would, when the movie began with Batman witnessing the wreckage of Superman’s battle, but this personal view into their personalities didn’t really last. We get a lot of smash-boom-pow and CGI battles without really caring about the heroes, and that’s a recipe for failure.
While Marvel movies tend to take us deep into the story on personal levels, DC movies don’t. They try, but they’re so focused on giving us huge explosions and trying to see through the dark cinematography that there’s really no room left for deep, convincing character development. (Also, there are two humorous lines in the whole movie. Two, in three hours of grim, battering violence and attempted existential questioning.)
In short, while there were things I liked about Batman v Superman, it was disjointed, unnecessarily grim, and fairly hollow. I want to give them a gold star for effort (and Ben Affleck a hug because buddy, I thought you were a great Batman) but while I’ll probably watch Captain America: Civil War two or three times in theaters, I don’t care to ever watch Batman v Superman again.
If you loved Man of Steel, you’ll probably like this movie. If you loved Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy…well, it’s a tossup.
Did I hate it? No. Did I like it? No. Will I still go see the Flash and Aquaman? Yes, because I’m ever-hopeful and I really do actually give DC movies a chance. Hopefully they’ll get all the kinks straightened out, because until then, there’s no threat to my Marvel loyalties.
As much as I adore Kenshin, when my friend Arielle said she was about to start the movie the first thing I said was, “GEIN.” While his role is (annoyingly) minor, he’s intriguing, fantastic, and his fight with Kenshin is my ‘pet fight scene’ – the one I go to every time. I’ve seen it probably twenty-five times. Gein is one of those minor characters with multiple layers. Even if they never fully come to light, he portrays someone complicated and deep in the short amount of time he has. The live-action version of Gein is very different from the manga version, and (in my opinion) a dozen times better.
Haldir, The Lord of the Rings (portrayed by Craig Parker)
Everybody loves Haldir. He’s serious, he’s sassy, he’s noble, and he accepts Aragorn’s bear hug. There is absolutely nothing to dislike about Haldir, and yet he dies believing they’ve lost. I’ve heard various stories as to why his character was killed off so abruptly, but the fact remains that he was killed, it was abrupt, and he deserved more screen time.
Eum-Ja, Faith/The Divine Doctor (portrayed by Bang Sung-Hoon)
(here we have him losing his cool the first time. also look at that glorious mane.)
When I first watched Faith, Eum-Ja was actually my favorite character. Over time Choi Young became my favorite (as in, favorite character ever, as discussed in my last ‘favorite characters’ post) but Eum-Ja was there first. Like Gein, he works for the villains, but everything about him is mysterious and complicated. He’s pledged to help the villain, Gi Cheol, and remains loyal to the end; but it’s clear he deeply loves a woman who never truly reciprocates his feelings. When he battles with the heroes, there’s something reluctant and accepting about his behavior. Calm and collected, he only loses his cool twice, toward the very end of the show. He’s the sort of character you secretly root for, even though he’s on the wrong side.
Jang-Bin, Faith/The Divine Doctor (portrayed by Philip Lee)
Jang-Bin may be only a Royal Doctor, but his skills aren’t limited to extensive knowledge of poisons and cures – he’s also a talented warrior in his own right. Calm, relaxed, and always willing to lend an ear, he’s often dragged into playing intermediary between disagreeing parties (honestly hilarious) although he would much rather spend his time on more peaceful endeavors. (He also makes using a fan look masculine.) He’s so great, in fact, that I made a meme which I use liberally during arguments.
The Suribang Dude, Faith/The Divine Doctor (portrayed by Park Jin Soo)
This is the last one from Faith, I promise (I could discuss more, but I’ll spare you). The Suribang Dude (his name is never stated) pops in and out of the show as an informant, spy, and the comedic relief. A flowery, flirtatious, over-the-top man, he a rare combination of awesome and hilarious. He cares deeply for Choi Young, the two younger Suribang warriors under his watch, and the tasks he’s given. His role is very small, and everyone I know who’s seen the show feels like they got gypped with his amount of screen time.
Storm Shadow, G. I. Joe (portrayed by Lee Byung-Hun)
I’m not talking about the second G. I. Joe movie – his role was actually decent and did him justice in Retaliation. But in the first movie there was so much potential to tap between Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes, and they barely touched on it. I mean, come on – the Arashikage ninjas are a favorite for everyone, and they skimmed over them in the first movie. At least the second movie gave them a spotlight. (Also, Lee Byung-Hun’s T-1000 in Terminator: Genisys was skimmed over even though he did a fantastic job with it. So much wasted potential. Sigh.)
Clark, The Sum of All Fears (portrayed by Liev Schreiber)
I tend to love Liev Schreiber, and his role as the government assassin in Jack Ryan movies is always fantastic – no matter who plays him. (Willem Defoe also played an amazing Clark in Clear and Present Danger.) Clarke is a quietly sassy, extremely efficient and strangely lovable character, whether he’s slitting someone’s throat or joking about not having an email address. He is the reason I like both of those movies – and the only reason. I want an entire movie series about Clark.
Ppoolte, Mask (portrayed by Sung Chang-Hoon)
I have a running joke about this guy. He plays the villain’s secretary/spy/chauffeur/bodyguard/everything. He has said all of two lines. Everyone needs a Ppoolte. Why is he named Ppoolte? We have no idea. Is it a typo? Did someone think nobody would notice? Is it because no one ever says his name anyway? It doesn’t really matter – because I get suck a kick out of it that I made this picture and use it as my computer wallpaper. I even named my computer after this guy – Ppoolte Blue. Ppoolte for said character, and Blue because my computer a) is Jurassic and b) gives me the blue screen of death. (If you’ve seen Jurassic World, you’ll understand.)
#PpoolteForPresident2016 (Ironically, his character in City Hunter needed more screen time, too.)
HONORARY MENTION GOES TO TUFFNUT.
What about you? What minor characters do you love who didn’t get the attention they deserved?
I’ve been tagged – and you may be surprised that I’m actually following through. If you’ve been around my blog for any length of time, you’re probably aware that I don’t really do tags – I don’t care for them, they don’t interest me, I have better things to talk about. But lo and behold! Whimsy Writer tagged me with a certain tantalizing tag my inner (okay, outer) fangirl couldn’t resist. An opportunity to talk about my ten favorite screen characters? Really? Like I’d say no.
Choi Young, ‘Faith/The Divine Doctor.’
Yeah, I know; shocker. Choi Young is my favorite character of all time. Notice I don’t say ‘fictional’ – because Choi Young is, in fact, an actual historical figure from Korean history, and they made note of actual facts while filming this (very fictional) historical drama. General of the Royal Guards (the Woodalchi) in his twenties, Choi Young at first appears to be an odd choice. He sleeps for days straight. He isn’t enthusiastic about…well, anything. His fighting skill is undeniable, but skill and looks won’t get you through life, right? (Eh…in most cases.) As the drama deepens, Choi Young’s character does, too. Backstory and insight reveal a man serving a King he doesn’t care for, doing a job he doesn’t want, loving people he’s afraid to care about, and killing in the service of a country that has never done anything for him. I could talk about Choi Young for hours (seriously, don’t test me on this) but I have nine other characters to get to. Watch the drama.
Bellamy Blake, ‘The 100’
Another surprise! Who’da thought! Bellamy is my favorite character on American television right now. His character arc is incredible (as is his sister’s). At the start of the show he’s a selfish, ruthless anarchist and by the end of season two he’s risking his life for the kids he now refers to as ‘my people.’ He learns from what happens around him and takes things to heart, smothering a big heart with a tough exterior that quickly melts as events conspire to destroy everyone he loves.
Himura Kenshin, ‘Rurouni Kenshin’
He’s not your average action hero. Soft-spoken, gentle and sweet, he lives life as a wandering swordsman trying to make up for his actions during the war by helping wherever he can. Haunted by his past and attempting to redeem himself in the present, he gets caught up in the war he wanted to leave behind, and proves that heroes come in all varieties. (Plus he has crazy epic fighting skills.)
Bucky Barnes, ‘The Winter Soldier’
This particular love of mine is no secret. He has a grand total of six lines in the entire movie, and yet he manages to convey so much emotion, struggle, and depth with what limited space he has that he crushed hearts, mangled feelings, and created FEELS across the globe. You can’t not love Bucky Barnes – and you can’t help but appreciate his homicidal swagger-walk, too.
Ji Hoo, ‘Boys Over Flowers’
Just to clarify: I love Jun Pyo, too. But Ji Hoo has a very special place in my heart – the precious fluffy angel person that he is. He’s one of those guys too perfect to exist, and no matter how much you love Jun Pyo, you’re really rooting for Ji Hoo because…well, he’s perfect. He’s sweet, thoughtful, quiet, kind, loving, and HE REALLY DESERVED TO GET THE GIRL. The only issue is…so did Jun Pyo. Aish – kdramas!!
Ned, ‘Pushing Daisies’
Ned may be the single most lovable television character to ever grace the small screen. Gentle, awkward, clumsy, and gifted with the ability to bring things back to life (ish), he’s impossibly easy to love and root for because you JUST WANT HIM TO BE HAPPY, OKAY.
Yoon-Sung, ‘City Hunter’
A political pawn since birth, Yoon-Sung has never known his real family, his real country, or even his real name. Sent back to Korea on a mission of vengeance, he begins to deploy justice on corrupt government officials. It would be a lot easier if a) he had a harder heart b) wasn’t falling in love with a girl who works in the same building and c) was a meaner person. As it is, Yoon-Sung is an entirely good person, and when he struggles, I struggle. When he feels things, I feel things. When he gets injured, I want to wrap him in a blanket and keep him safe forever and ever – I mean, uh. Yeah.
Who doesn’t love a bedazzled David Bowie playing a childish goblin king and breaking out in catchy songs? Honestly, he speaks for himself.
Wol Ryung, ‘Gu Family Book’
He starts off as a gumiho; an immortal, paranormal guardian of mountain. Kind, generous, and too caring for his own good, the sweet Wol Ryung rescues a young woman and falls in love and marries her, while working on a 100-day trial to free him from his gumiho state and give him humanity. Things don’t go as planned when his wife is attacked and he defends her, breaking his trial and transforming him into a thousand-year demon (basically a gumiho gone to the dark side who feeds off the living essence of humans). His story only begins there – his son proves to be a turning point for him, and Wol Ryung will always be one of my favorite – and most tragic – screen characters.
Roy Mustang, ‘Full Metal Alchemist/Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood’
I know it’s an anime, but the tag didn’t specify, okay? He’s a character, and he’s on a screen. Roy is a rising military officer-slash-fire alchemist with a hot temper and a sense of duty the size of North Dakota. Struggling with what he knows to be right and his own personal vendetta, Roy is as deep as he is fun to watch. (Riza Hawkeye agrees.)
What about you? Who are your favorite screen characters? Shall we lament over the honorable mentions I didn’t have room for? (There are…a lot.)