Time after time Hollywood’s blockbuster hero movies make men the centre of attention. We marvel at their handsome looks, their impeccable strength and their ingenious fighting skills.
But have you ever stopped to consider the role of women in these classic “save the world” stories? Have women been left out? Perhaps women aren’t considered as worthy as men or they don’t have the necessary qualities to play the hero. Hollywood has tried to combat this by developing storylines incorporating male and female heroes. But they still manage to downsize the female’s role by falling back into the classic storylines.Classic films such as A Knight’s Tale or James Bond- Die Another Day feature female characters such as Lady Jocelyn or Jinx as only the “damsel in distress”, the nurturing mother or the evil “must be destroyed” siren.
This creates a shocking representation that because women are not as highly regarded as men they can never be the hero.As the world is faced with more crises we need nothing else more than both male and female heroes. This is seen in how the role of a family is quickly becoming the strongest social group of all. Hollywood has tried to incorporate this idea into their latest flicks by creating stories with families or a team playing the role of the hero.
This latest Hollywood fad has been great for women as they have finally been accepted into the world of heroes.Films such as The Chronicles of Narnia, The Incredibles and The Fantastic 4 all have four central characters who represent the modern heroes. However have these films really shown equality between men and women? Are these films, aimed at children and teens, really teaching that a woman can be just as much of a hero as a man (or will they only ever be considered as a damsel)?In Narnia audiences are delighted as they watch the Pevensie siblings come together to fight the White Witch and the Tullamarines. Each of the children fighting with a talent of their own; Susan’s bow and arrows, Edmund’s intuitiveness, Lucy’s compassionate heart and Peter’s swordsmanship.
The Incredibles tell the story of a dysfunctional family who have realised what it means to be a hero and together beat their arch enemy.The Fantastic 4 give audience a fresh look at female heroes with Sue Storm featured as the invisible woman who together with Mr Fantastic, The Human Torch and The Thing fight off Victor Von Doom.So Hollywood has solved the problem of gender inequality in hero films! Yay! But wait a minute; let’s just have another look at these stories.Although these three films have presented both male and female heroes, they have subtly pushed the females back into the previously offered roles.
Again the female characters are represented as a nurturer or something to attract the eyes.It is seen in the first instalment of the Fantastic Four; Sue’s character is seen to be more of Reed’s love than a hero. Sure she is able to use her invisibility and force field to protect the others but she is otherwise exploited. The audience is constantly aware of her good looks, with her low cut tops and constant undressing.
This only causes the viewers to see Sue as “eye candy” rather than a hero.Mr Incredible continues down the path of downsizing a woman’s talent by casting his wife and daughter into the role of damsels in distress. This fact is demonstrated when he continues to fight Syndrome’s monster by himself in order to protect his wife and Violet. Although society believes that the father of the family is the protector, Mr Incredible fails to let his wife and daughter use their unique abilities to help save the day.
Even Narnia has tapped into that belief except in the role of the older brother. It is commonly known that once the father of the family is gone, the eldest son is the “man of the house”. Due to this, the audience watches as Susan becomes the “nurturing mother” figure of the family as she is even eventually named Susan the Gentle.Narnia has even gone so far as to cast the evil character to a female.
In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, viewers watch as the evil White Witch is trying to continue her reign of Narnia.In all of these films, viewers are constantly seeing female heroes never receiving the full attention that they deserve. They may throw a punch here and there, or even shoot an arrow but they are never central to the story. Hollywood continues to down grade womenby offering the same parts in hero movies as they have since hero movies first begun.
Hollywood has attempted to make films that celebrate both male and female heroes but have just fallen into the trap of a classic storyline. They have tried to present a new conception to audiences but only succeed in reinforcing the fact that males are the true hero and females can never anything more than a damsel in distress, the nurturing mother or the face of evil.
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