Slowly–impossibly slowly–I’ve been working on a Stranger Things review. I will complete and post this review someday, almost certainly before my 80th birthday, I swear, but for now I’m putting it on hold so I can write this list instead.
So, gender-flipped remakes. Whenever these come up in conversation, I always feel like I can’t properly articulate why I’m so interested in seeing them–but I do think they have value. And before you ask, I still haven’t seen the new Ghostbusters yet, much to my annoyance. It’s been a busy couple months, and at this point I’ve mostly resigned myself to the fact that I’ll have to wait for the rental . . . which sucks, not because I’m sure I’ll like it–I was lukewarm about the trailer–but because I really hoped the movie would succeed at the box office, and I feel bad for not buying a ticket. Ghostbusters’ failure to make money is a victory for the wrong kind of people, the kind who have been actively campaigning for it to fail since it was first announced because, wah, their precious childhoods are being tainted by women–and don’t tell me it’s not about the women. Most remakes, you hear the news, you bitch on Twitter about Hollywood’s refusal to make anything new, and then you move on about your day like grown ass adults. That’s hell and gone from what happened here.
It’s also a victory for the people who will argue that “See! No one wants to see a female-led cast or women in SF movies!” Not to mention the racist dickbags who have been harassing Leslie Jones and doing their level best to display the worst aspects of humanity–Ghostbusters’ failure has even been used as evidence that this atrocious behavior is somehow okay. And don’t get me wrong: it is totally and absolutely valid if you saw the movie and didn’t like it, or just aren’t interested in checking it out–but those misogynists frothing at the mouth the second it was announced? I am exhausted of listening to their bullshit, and Lord knows they won’t be shutting up anytime soon.
All right, that got away from me a bit. Back on track! One of the reasons I’d like to see more genderbent remakes is just the glorious change-up in ratio of male to female characters. Women usually only outnumber men in romantic comedies, romantic dramas, and–interestingly enough–slasher flicks. In fantasy, western, SF, noir, action, crime, war, and various other genres, though, men easily outnumber women–and boy do people complain if ladies outnumber dudes in those genres, because that means it’s a stunt, it’s appeasing the PC Police, made for feminazis, blah blah garbage garbage. Of course that’s patently ridiculous if you think about it: sure, you’re used to seeing movies with 9 men and 1 woman, but is that actually indicative of your life experience? Do you really know 9 men for every 1 woman in your life? No? Then please stop acting like reversing the gender ratio is some completely ridiculous thing that could never, ever be possible. You’re just not used to it, and that’s okay. None of us are used to it.
You wanna know how to get used to it? By watching so many movies with all or mostly female casts that it’s just not a big deal anymore. You could, of course, make original movies that aren’t remakes; in fact, I’d love to see those too. But let’s not pretend that getting those movies is somehow easy; otherwise we’d already have them. Besides, revisiting old worlds/stories with gender-swapped characters could actually be pretty powerful.
With that all in mind, here’s a list of some gender-swapped remakes that I think could be exciting to watch.
A. This list isn’t complete by any means, nor is it in any particular order.
B. I’m using the plot synopses on Wikipedia to count the number of named and plot-significant male and female characters per movie. There are, I’ve discovered, advantages and disadvantages to this; mostly, I just wanted you to know that I quickly got tired of typing out “in Wikipedia’s Plot Summary,” so I stopped. Regardless, that’s where I’m getting my numbers from. Please keep in mind that anybody can make changes to Wikipedia, so if you go look and see only three male characters mentioned instead of the ten I’ve claimed, please consider the possibility that someone’s edited it since I wrote this and not that I lied for some Elaborate Feminist Plot.
C. Most of this wish list will, unsurprisingly, focus on female-heavy casts, but there are some exceptions. After all, men playing traditionally female roles can be pretty interesting in its own right.
D. I like pretty much every movie on this list. In fact, I even love some of them. This isn’t necessarily about making something better than the original; it’s about remaking the story with better female representation and seeing what that does to typical gender roles.
10 Movies I’d Like to See Gender-Flipped NOW
1. Stand By Me
Number of Named Male Characters Listed in Wikipedia’s Plot Summary: 11 (Gordie, Denny, Chris, Teddy, Verne, Billy, Charlie, Ray, Milo, Davie, Ace)
Number of Named Female Characters Listed: 0
Stand By Me is the movie that helped inspire this list in the first place: coming-of-age movies about boy friendships and growing up and the like? That’s the kind of thing that tends to garner respect and award nominations, or at the very least beloved cult followings (The Sandlot, for instance). Coming-of-age stories about girl friendships? I mean, I can’t even think of any offhand other than Now & Then. Which I know was critically panned, but I loved it when I was young, very possibly because of how few girl friendship movies there were (or are) available, much less ones where the girls get to do anything remotely interesting.
In a gender-flipped remake of Stand By Me, not only would the cast be prominently female, but young girls would actually get to do cool things like sneak out on a quest to find a dead body. It’d also be nice to see a girl coming-of-age story that didn’t have a single thing to do with romance. There are no love interests in Stand By Me. Only gangs, dead bodies, and trains.
2. Reservoir Dogs
Number of Named Male Characters Listed: 9 (Mr. Blonde, Mr. Blue, Mr. Brown, Mr. Orange, Mr. Pink, Mr. White, Joe, Nice Guy Eddie, Marvin Nash)
Number of Named Female Characters Listed: 0
Crime and heist movies are dominated by male characters. Not all are so dude-heavy as Reservoir Dogs, of course, but even the ones that have women, well, it’s rare that they feature more than two ladies. And whichever one has more screen time is almost certainly the lead male’s love interest.
An all-woman Reservoir Dogs, though? I mean, sign me up: you get to have the female psychopath, the female undercover cop, the female crook with a conscience, the female thief out for herself, the female ringleader, etc. It’s especially exciting because this isn’t a light, feel-good heist movie where the protagonists are all basically good guys anyway. (Not that this wouldn’t be fun too; Ocean’s Eleven would absolutely be on this list if it wasn’t already in production.) This is a film where multiple women get to be amoral and violent without also being campy, and I feel like we don’t get to see that so much in movies today.
3. The Avengers
Number Of Named Male Characters Listed: 10 (Loki, The Other, Nick Fury, Eric Selvig, Phil Coulson, Clint Barton, Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor)
Number of Named Female Characters Listed: 2 (Maria Hill, Natasha Romanoff)
I’ll go ahead and add Pepper Potts to the above list because I like her, and she gets about as much screen time as The Other (although she also has less–or zero–effect on the plot, which is probably why the synopsis didn’t bother to include her). Still, 10 to 3 could be a lot better, especially when the actual team of superheroes itself is 5 to 1. And there’s absolutely zero reason it couldn’t be the other way around, like, even if you’re coming at it from an “all-men-are-naturally-stronger-than-women-and-it’s-important-that-all-my-fantastical-superhero-stories-where-Norse-Gods-with-virtue-sensing-hammers-meet-supersoldiers-who-are-perfectly-preserved-after-spending-70-years-on-a-glorified-icecube-are-100%-historically-and-biologically-accurate” perspective. Consider this:
Tony’s superpower is his brain, which allowed him to make his awesome robot suit. Zero reason a woman couldn’t do that. (And wouldn’t it be fun to see a snarky, alcoholic, mega-rich, genius who’s also a woman? I think so.) The Hulk is the result of a lab experiment gone wrong; Dr. Bruce Banner could be a 4’11” girl who weighs 95 pounds soaking wet and still be an unbeatable rage monster. There’s nothing to suggest that female Asgardians are weaker than male Asgardians, and even if they were, female Asgardians can clearly kick any human guy’s ass, so yeah, Thor could totally be a woman. Clint Barton is a soldier more reliant on his aim and his eyes than his upper body strength; clearly, nothing a woman couldn’t do. So if you’re judging on biological and historical accuracy (and yes, I’m still laughing at you for doing so), the only character who actually couldn’t have been a woman was Steve Rogers, because American women couldn’t serve on the ground in combat in World War II. (And I still think it would be pretty easy to write around that. My God, what if Peggy Carter had been Captain America? I mean, yeah, I guess she wouldn’t exactly have been Captain AMERICA, but still. I’d pay to watch that movie.)
4. Pretty Woman
Number of Named Male Characters Listed: 2 (Edward, Philip)
Number of Named Female Characters Listed: 1 (Vivian)
First, JESUS, this Wikipedia summary. It’s not just that it’s missing characters who are probably worth mentioning, like Kit, Morse, and Barney–I could forgive that, as I have recently become acquainted with the difficulty of trying to concisely summarize a full-length story into a very limited amount of words. But the language, just, LOOK at this shit:
“The film follows Vivian through her transition from cheap hooker to sophisticated beauty with excellent manners and a likable personality, enlisting the help of the hotel concierge, elevator operator, and several others who see her warm and kind personality when she is able to shed her outwardly cheap and self-defeating persona. Edward is visibly moved by her transformation from hooker to sophisticated woman, and begins seeing Vivian in a different light.”
Like, look, I know Pretty Woman is problematic, and I’d want to change certain things in any remake, whether it was gender-swapped or not, but this crap just grosses me out. Repeated use of the word ‘cheap,’ acting like Edward somehow gave Vivian likability when she clearly already was, and describing her as having a “self-defeating persona?” Ugh, NO.
Moving on. This one is mostly about curiosity for me, because you’d be putting a man in both the prostitute role (which has happened in in Hollywood, but certainly not as often), and also the princess-in-the-tower role. It still might end up being a problem because–unless you framed it differently–you still end the movie with the conclusion that you can’t be a sex worker and have a happy ending, which is crummy . . . but I do find the dynamic of a woman playing Edward and a man playing Vivian really interesting. Not to mention: Philip as a woman could actually hit upon the not-always-addressed issue that woman can be sexual harassers too.
It would, at the very least, be an interesting experiment in film and gender theory.
5. Star Wars (Specifically, A New Hope)
Number of Named Male Characters Listed: 9 (Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, Owen, Luke, Obi-Wan, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Grand Moff Tarkin)
Number of Named Female Characters Listed: 2 (Leia, Beru)
C-3PO and R2-D2 are technically arguable, as they’re both robots, but I’m pretty sure both are referred to with male pronouns in the story, and of course C-3PO was voiced by a male actor, so I’m counting them in the Boy Category.
9 to 2 isn’t the worst ratio on this list, but it gets considerably lousier as the rest of the trilogy unfolds, considering there’s only one other female speaking part in the whole thing (Mon Mothma) and she isn’t even actually named on screen. So, yeah, you think having another girl heroine in Rogue One is too PC after Rey in The Force Awakens? HA! I want Lady Jedis and Lady Bounty Hunters and Lady Sith Lords and Lady Stormtroopers and Lady Rebel Officers and Lady Droids all OVER the place. I’d watch the hell out of this movie–or, at the very least, an original Star Wars story with all or nearly all women. That would be badass.
Number of Named Male Characters: 3 (Detective William Somerset, Detective David Mills, John Doe)
Number of Named Female Characters: 1 (Tracy Mills)
There are definitely more men in this movie than that list reflects (as the cops, lawyers, and forensic people are mostly all made up of dudes), but it’s really those chief characters that I’m interested in. It’s hard enough to get cop movies where both detectives are women; having two female detectives in such a dark, neo-noir thriller like Se7en? That definitely doesn’t happen in Hollywood, and I think it’d be a hell of a thing to see.
And while I’m totally ambivalent on John’s Doe’s gender, Tracy Mills would definitely have to be male. I understand that means a certain subplot/tipping point would have to be taken out due to anatomical issues. But you don’t really need it; Wrath can still totally be accomplished, I promise.
7. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Number of Named Male Characters Listed: 7 (Angel Eyes, Steven, Bill Carson, Baker, Tuco, Blondie, Elam)
Number Female Characters Listed: 0
Why do I want this? Because it would be AWESOME, that’s why.
For starters, I want to see more women-focused westerns period. I could just as easily have substituted Once Upon a Time in the West or The Magnificent Seven in this slot; it’s just that I’ve been daydreaming about a woman-led The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for YEARS now.
I definitely see this one being a loose remake, much like The Good, The Bad, The Weird–only instead of Korean men, we’d have women of any ethnicity, preferably not all white. (Consider that to be the case for every remake I’ve listed, BTW. Also, I’m trying to decide if having Gina Torres as The Good would count as typecasting. Then again, nobody ever worries about typecasting when it comes to crazy old man Clint Eastwood, so, fuck it, right? Still, I’m open to other options. Hm, maybe I’ll actually have to cast this one . . .)
Also, my dream remake would be at least half an hour shorter. Honestly, people. This movie does not need to be three hours long.
8. The Maltese Falcon
Number of Named Male Characters Listed: 9 (Sam Spade, Miles Archer, Floyd Thursby, Detective Tom Polhaus, Lieutenant Dundy, Joel Cairo, Wilmer, Kaspar Gutman, Jacobi)
Number of Female Characters Listed: 3 (Brigid O’Shaughnessy, Iva Archer, Effie Perine)
There are some awesome women in film noir . . . and then there are some less than awesome women too. What they’re never, however, is the detective, at least not in the classic movies. Rarely in neo-noir, either, and somedays, all I want is a rumpled lady in a fedora digging her nose where it doesn’t belong and verbally smacking people around for giving her guff. Sam Spade would be a lot of fun for that: you wouldn’t even have to change the name. And I’m curious to see a male equivalent of a femme fatale: Google has suggested that the antonym of this is ‘homme fatale,’ and I saw a few people saying an example of such a character would be James Bond . . . but James Bond is pretty much the unequivocal hero, not the cagey, seductive, and often-treacherous love interest. There are definitely differences there.
Besides, lady crime bosses and cops and weird little henchmen who are up to no good? Consider me interested. I want to meet Girl Peter Lorre, STAT.
9. Black Christmas
Number of Named Male Characters: 5 (Peter, Chris, Lt. Fuller, Mr. Harrison, Billy)
Number of Named Female Characters: 6 (Jess, Barb, Phyl, Clare, Mrs. Mac, Janice)
It’s been a while since I’ve seen this, but if my memory serves, most of the male characters are pretty minor: the only one I actually remember with any clarity is Peter. Slasher films regularly feature female characters, but there aren’t too many that center around men as the primary victims, which is why this video probably comes across as funny rather than scary.
It would be interesting to see Black Christmas remade. Not how it was remade (because that shit was awful), but where the guys are getting picked off one-by-one by a female serial killer making obscene phone calls and hiding from within the house. I’ve seen a few horror movies that center on male victims (though, surprisingly, I haven’t seen Jennifer’s Body yet), but not too many that are slashers. And I’d like to see that: slashers where the men are not only getting killed, but being hunted and victimized. A slasher with an honest-to-God Scream King.
10. The Princess Bride
Number of Male Characters Listed: 7 (Westley, Humperdinck, Vizzini, Fezzik, Inigo, Count Rugen, Miracle Max)
Number of Female Characters Listed: 1 (Buttercup)
I have never wanted a remake of The Princess Bride. I love that movie. It is one of my all-time happy movies, and I hate the idea of someone trying to remake it for only a few bucks.
But if you’re going to remake it anyway–and let’s be real here, that’s happening at some point or another–let’s at least remake it interesting, right? First we have The Grandfather and the Grandson (not technically named), who could be a lot of fun: I’d love to see a little girl complaining about a kissing book to her slightly irritable grandmother. The most inactive and passive character in the story, Buttercup, would be played by a man, while women get to be pirates and giants and evil princesses and daughters seeking lifelong revenge. (And shit, Billy Crystal and Carol Kane could just switch parts! It would be awesome!)
Well, that’s it for today. If you have movies you’d be interested in seeing genderbent (or race-bent or–er–queerbent? There’s probably a word for that, but I can’t think of it right now), I’d love to hear about them in the Comments section.