Thursday, January 30, 2014

Off-Topic: Girl Power/Female Empowerment Feature Films Hollywood Should Make

So I'm trying to put off writing an entry on Bendis' X-23 usage.  Not that I find it bad, in fact there are spots already that I adore, but there are spots that raise some red flags to me as well.  I'm trying to figure out how I want to balance that entry still.  So instead I want to focus on something else real quick!  Here has always been a place I wanted to use to focus on female empowerment and cover many topics associated since that does have a tendency to fall on the line of both genders.  One topic that's rarely discussed is the other intellectual properties out there that could do just that.  Hunger Games has already proven female protagonists are box office smashes if the story is there and it's handled with care to make a great movie, so let's discuss what other properties are out there that could break the mold as well.

Donna Troy/Troia

So kicking off this discussion, is the recent announcement that Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman contract is a multi-picture deal.  One of which is outright a Wonder Woman solo film!  Now granted this discussion should go over characters that have yet to be or are not currently planned for film but it should be discussed that with Diana comes her own history from Themyscira.  Besides Diana, there is also room for characters like Artemis, Donna Troy, Cassie Sandsmark, and more!  Donna Troy in particular I think would do well to be featured as a cameo in a Wonder Woman solo film.  Her character history with some mild tweaks could be quite interesting on screen for how it portrays an orphan taken to the island and raised among these women who grows into her own hero with her own name.  She also provides an interesting spin on the normal heroine romantic angle as she eventually married a mortal normal human man.  This provides interesting potential as a counter-balance to the Clark Kent Lois Lane dynamic where he eventually did the same.  It has interesting potential to show that yes, guys do love strong women that have ambitions and capabilities unmatched by any and will support them even if that guy is only human in comparison.

Maybe I'm just biased when it comes to Donna Troy, but many of her costumes and redesigns have always had that reaching for the stars touch to them and she was also one of the earliest members of the Teen Titans themselves.

She has a long history with Wonder Woman media forays since she was created in 1965.  In 1967 she appeared in the  Aquaman Superman Hour of Adventure cartoon show.  Then later in 1976 she also appeared in a slightly altered form within the classic Wonder Woman live action TV show.  She was the first sidekick that Wonder Woman ever had, creating the mantle of Wonder Girl that eventually faded off of her and led her to becoming her own hero in her own right under her own set of powers.  The mantle of Wonder Girl was then passed on to another much like Batman's sidekick Robin has been.  Granted, this go round her origin should be kept simplified as intended, and with the film forays of Wonder Woman this could happen.  The orphan story was an amazing story device as would be some form of story device means of granting her the Amazon like abilities after years of growing up on the island and training under them would allow.  This relatively simplified back story and added piece of Paradise Island folklore of bestowing Amazon powers to a human could play amazing well to audiences.  It would show women everywhere that any of them could become Wonder Woman and they are not limited from it by not being born on Paradise Island.

Finding a way to mix all the elements of her modern interpretations could also provide for some interesting design elements among DC's New 52 lineup as would be sure to happen after her appearing in any of the Wonder Woman feature films.  This allows Cassie Sandsmark to maintain the Wonder Girl title they've currently started with, and allows Troia to make her return again without having been underneath anyone's shadow.  She'll simply be a strong female protagonist with an interesting subtle back story and ready for the big leagues.  Thanks to her media exposure and fans, alongside her rich history with Diana herself, there is a strong possibility she may cameo at some point.  One could only hope that WB does bite at this chance to bring her to the big screen and have her make a big splash with her presence among DC's line of comics.  The fans miss Donna Troy.  Among all the other redesigns and fresh starts other heroes have gotten, she's one that could shine bright among the stars once again for all she represents and what should be corrected from her previous overly-convoluted character history.

As for full on feature films though?  Oh my list is much more open ended to be free standing as their own properties.

Tomb Raider

Of course, right off the bat I have to mention Lara Croft.  I know, I know.  Angelina Jolie already portrayed the infamous character from Tomb Raider in the classic video game adapted movie and sequel.  Lara Croft though has received her own kind of face lift and rebranding rather recently in video game form.  Of course I'm speaking of the 2011 game from Squaresoft and Crystal Dynamics.  That Tomb Raider game acted as an origin story for the character and dove into her early years of how she became who she is with her first adventure.  The game was magnificently handled and elevated the genre to new heights in how it was approached.  Maybe it's time for movie Lara Croft to get the same treatment with her own origin feature film that could do the same and cover the themes that game presented.

It could be a full on standalone feature or be marketed as a prequel.  Either works.  With the right director and emotional impact to the story, it could easily break the box office and expectations.  Casting seems quite apparent too with only needing a starlet that's capable of doing a british accent and is looking to fill out the action film side of their filmography.  It is a story that has a focal point on a proverbial underdog.  One lone woman using her wits to survive and save her friends.

Black Rock Shooter

Black Rock Shooter is a character and growing property from Japan created by illustrator Ryohei Huke.  She had started off as a simple Miku Miku Dance model and song, but has grown to so much more.  She has been featured in several manga, has had her own video games, and even two forays into anime.  One was a standalone direct to video(web streamed too!) 50 minute feature and the second provided her first foray onto TV screens as a full on series.  This property has often been one to focus heavily on the power of friendship alongside the trials it can entail.  It's also had a heavy focus on natural human emotion, growth, and showing the strength within to do what's right and stand up for others.  She's a character that has already influenced the world in many ways with the dynamic action presented in both game and animation form, but she's also a character with very strong positive messages hidden underneath.  If a live movie were to be adapted of her, it could pull on multiple sources of influence and become a cult classic comparative to Sucker Punch, Assault Girls, or similar albeit without the hindrances many of those properties have tossed their way.  While there may be a few hindrances in the design barring how the story is approached, there is much room to use here as female empowerment piece.

Personally my view if it ever were to be adapted, is that it should lean either on the game's dystopian future story of an attack that wiped out humanity, or possibly heavily onto the another world developments that the anime uses.  It's highly dependent on the type of story that could be told, and both sides really have strong potential.  There are many ways to spin such a creation to still entail heavy visual action pieces of any setup while within the confines of the growth of relationships among friends at any age of the spectrum from high school to even self-referential method of the friendships being tested and built while such a film itself was being developed within itself.  These set pieces allow for a visual feast as well as symbolic exposition of what's occurring on the normal "earth" side.  It also allows for commentary within itself over various aspects of the visual side that could range from everything about casting to costuming, or even character design elements of such genres.  An art piece that could be a film that'd make you think as well as make your eyes go wide.  There are many directions that could be taken or commentaries that could be made within from overactive imaginations to much much more.  The conflicts, bridges built and burnt, or even misunderstandings are something that plague all walks of life and industries.

Gunsmith Cats

Gunsmith Cats is a property created by Kenichi Sonada.  As a manga in the 90s it reached up to 9 volumes and a straight to video 3 episode anime release.  Then thanks to how beloved and well received it was, much later it had a 5 volume follow up continuing on the story.  Gunsmith Cats itself is the story of a gun shop run by two women.  They aren't only the owners of this shop though.  They are also bounty hunters in Chicago where their shop is located.  The story covers many aspects of gender stereotypes as well as shows the strong bond these women have for each other and their friends.  It contains much situational humor to their lifestyle as well as has fast cars and action packed stories that show truly how badass these women are.  Rally Vincent and Minnie Mae are icons within the anime fandom outright.  Whether it's from how Rally outwits the macho man incarnate of Riding Bean, or takes down full on drug cartels headed by former KGB, these characters outright show that women can do anything and are capable of being the scariest women alive, but also have ethics, morals, and a warmth all of their own.  The dynamic between Rally and Minnie Mae has yet to be fully explored onscreen in cinemas.  The questions and commentary it could raise within audiences about the character histories are explored in playful jabs and commentary between the characters themselves.

This duo is one that could surprise all.  With the Transporter series having done as well as it has and how much the original Riding Bean anime that birthed Gunsmith Cats itself is reminiscent of, maybe it's time this duo had their fair shot too in a feature film to prove they could be even more successful.

Bubblegum Crisis

Of course any entry talking about empowerment and girl power would not be complete without mentioning the Knight Sabers.  Bubblegum Crisis started off as an 8 episode direct to video anime release, but spawned a 3 episode direct to video follow up called Bubblegum Crash as well as a prequel spin off series that focused on the A.D. Police.  Much later BGC also received a 26 episode anime TV series and again the A.D. Police themselves gained another 12 episode TV series prequel.  Fans are still hungry for more.  Nene, Priss, Sylia, and Linna are anime icons of strong women from all walks of life that handle what the police of the future can't.  They take down threats on levels that even this future police task force can't and often times even have to clean up this task force's mess from being ill-prepared.  The themes covered and the stories told are all rich with potential, symbolism and world commentary even to this day.  Having been a series that was heavily influenced from Blade Runner, the pedigree of this scifi property is well in place and ready to become the next landmark serial blockbuster fest.  That's assuming of course if the action is handled well, and the Knight Saber armor suits are kept moderately to their iconic selves of at least the TV series initial versions.

The property is essentially a girl power form of Iron Man, but with more on burst jet propelled acrobatics than actual flight.  If you take the Pepper Potts action piece finale of Iron Man 3 and multiply it by about 50 times, you'd start to get somewhere around where the Knight Sabers are at.  That Gwyneth Paltrow scene would be considered a slow day for them.

Of course on this list should include X-23 herself, but KP will be coming back to that topic about a movie for her soon!  There's much that could be discussed still on the prospects and directions it could take!  For now though, what properties would you like to see on the big screen that have strong focuses and influences of female empowerment or girl power?  What are your thoughts on the ones suggested?  Personally I left off Battle Angel Alita since James Cameron has talked about bringing her to the big screen eventually.  That was a hard call to make though since it is a property that goes hand in hand with many of the ones mentioned.