Jessica Chastain Wants To See A Female-Driven Superhero Movie Stat!

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Actress Jessica Chastain is familiar with ass-kicking female roles, after her Oscar-nominated role of military analyst Maya in the Katheryn Bigelow-directed flick ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ in 2012. She also scored an Oscar nomination for her appearance in ‘The Help’, and is pretty well-known for playing a wide range of female characters.

Is it something pretty rare in Hollywood, to see an actress employed in a versatile manner as Jessica’s, but thanks to women in film pushing for better roles and better representation, we are slowly starting to see things change for the better. There is still a long way to go, however, as men far outnumber women both onscreen and off. When you look at a list of the top-paid stars in Hollywood, men dominate there also.

Along with the growing unrest of how women are portrayed in film, many actresses are voicing their disdain at an industry which has dictated for far too long what a female character looks, acts and sounds like. Cate Blanchett is one vocal A-lister who doesn’t care who she pisses off in the industry by saying it is largely a boys club, and the stereotyping needs to stop.

Jessica Chastain is the latest actress to voice her opinion on a very specific flaw in the industry right now: the lack of female superhero movies. Every year we are bombarded with the big action blockbusters that dominate the summer box office. Fantasy characters, badass villains and adventurous story lines are largely driven by men, with the presence of women as a mere accessory.

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In 2014 and 2013 female-driven films such as ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’, ‘Lucy’, ‘Maleficent’, ‘Frozen’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ have gone a long way to show that high box office numbers are evidence enough women can carry a major film. Yet some studio heads are still reluctant to step out of their comfort zone, and even more disappointingly, listen to their audiences.

When Kevin Feige president of Marvel Studios was asked when they are going to finally release a solid female-led action film, his answer was vague, evasive and he blamed “the right timing” as the reason it hasn’t happened yet. Their delay is Sony studio’s gain, as they not only have options of a number of female based comic books, but they plan to release one of these in 2017. But is it soon enough?

In an interview with The Wrap talking about her latest film ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby’, Jessica doesn’t hold back in giving her opinion on Hollywood’s slow uptake on female superhero movies.

“Where is the Scarlett Johansson superhero movie? I don’t understand it, why is it taking so long for this?” She is of course making reference to Scarlett’s Black Widow character from the ‘Avengers’ movies, as she has been widely seen as the obvious choice for Marvel to base a film off of.

“This woman clearly shows that people want to go see her in the movies. ‘Lucy,’ didn’t it beat ‘Hercules’ by a lot opening weekend, when it was made for a lot less? She shows that she kicks ass, she’s a great actress. ‘Under the Skin’ is an incredible film, and why are we still waiting for a go-ahead on a superhero movie starring Scarlett Johansson?”

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“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” she added. “You want to make money, put Scarlett Johansson in a superhero movie!”

Hmm, it sounds like we need to put a petition together and force Marvel to give the fans what they want!

Jessica goes on to say that because there are more men behind the scenes in the film industry, it makes it harder for women’s stories to be told. Yet another reason why we need more female directors, writers, producers and executives.

“It’s a fact, the majority of films in Hollywood are from the male perspective,” she said. “And the female characters, very rarely do they get to speak to another female character in a movie, and when they do it’s usually about a guy, not anything else. So they’re very male-centric, Hollywood films, in general.”

Her comments about female characters speaking only to a guy or about a guy fall in line with why the Bechdel Test could be such a powerful tool for change, if only it was used as a serious measure by filmmakers. The Bechdel Test, designed to widen the representation of women on screen, asks three main questions: (1) Does the film have at least 2 female characters in it? (2) Do those female characters talk to each other? (3) Do they talk to each other about something other than a man?

Sadly, the majority of films do not pass the test. We need more women with powerful platforms to continue speaking up in favor of what audiences want to see. Hopefully soon the stubborn studio heads will relent and realize the box office money they are missing out on by relegating women to secondary roles. Thank you Jessica for saying what a lot of us have been thinking.

In the meantime Hollywood, we’ll be waiting…

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