Kia Ora -Could Thor: Ragnarok not have had a female director?

We’ve had our first look at the new Thor installment ‘Ragnarok’ this week with the release of some images from Entertainment Weekly. (Off on a tangent already but… immediately noticeable is that there’s a new look for Thor; his delicate blonde locks have been chopped off. The horror.) ‘Ragnarok’ is the third of the franchise with each of Thor’s films receiving a new director each time. ‘Thor’ was directed by Kenneth Branagh, ‘The Dark World’ by Alan Taylor and ‘Ragnarok’ will be helmed by New Zealand’s Taika Waititi.

thor 3 cover

 

When it was announced that Waititi got the job back in 2015, I was a little apprehensive if I’m honest. At that point Waititi had only directed three feature films including ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ (a fave of mine tbh) and a handful of TV episodes including axed USA remake of ‘The Inbetweeners’.

Yet he’s being handed one of the biggest jobs in Hollywood as far as budget, hype and bums-on-seats is concerned.

Could they not have found someone more qualified? Or were all other male directors busy? Could Marvel not have chosen *gasp* a female director?

By choosing Waititi what do we think Marvel are trying to get him to bring to the table with Ragnarok? Waititi’s films such as WWDITS and ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ have incredible comedic elements to them. Perhaps Marvel want to bring some more comedy to Thor’s third outing; especially considering the success of the Team Thor flatmate short’s.

Perhaps Marvel could have contacted Elizabeth Banks – as the first name off the top of my head. Other female directors with a focus on comedic elements could have included Amy Heckerling, Marjane Satrapi or Gurinder Chadha. Banks is extremely funny and current who has recently directed Pitch Perfect 2 and will be directing the new Charlie’s Angels. Nope, these movies aren’t similar to a film such as Thor, but neither is The Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Marvel have also been setting their sights on becoming more diversified by green-lighting Captain Marvel and Black Panther stand-alone movies. Perhaps Marvel were also looking to bring more diversity behind the cameras as well?

Perhaps Marvel could have asked Ava DuVernay? Interestingly DuVernay was scouted to direct the Black Panther movie however ‘creative differences’ was cited and she eventually left the project before even beginning.

Have Marvel hired Waititi based off of the fact that he is what some would call an ‘up and coming’ director? This makes me wonder if Marvel could retain more creative control over Waititi and his decisions for Ragnarok.

thor 3

Waititi and Hemsworth

Bottom line – I’m kinda pissed that there’s extremely talented female directors out there who have more than proved their worth with incredible CVs that are just overlooked. Women and POC are only ever in the running for jobs if the source material concerns women or POC.

Captain Marvel looks like it will be directed by a woman, however no announcement has been made yet of Marvel’s final decision. Similarly, the Black Panther job went to Ryan Coogler.

White men direct films about POC and women all the time. Therefore I’m kinda glad that Waititi, a New Zealand born part-Maori, is at the helm of a movie which is essentially just about another white guy saving the world.

Marvel can take chances and make changes as they have such a huge platform. I’m still waiting for them to look outside of the box and be brave. People will go to their movies regardless and they can encourage some real change in Hollywood if they only had the balls.

2014 Most Expensive Films

During the New Year I had a look back at the most successful films of 2014, and obviously noticed everything seemed a little… manly. Then I looked at the most expensive films made in 2014 and there were films such as ‘Maleficent’ which, as everyone knows, stars Angelina Jolie in the lead role, but everything still looked heavily sausage based.

So, using the source that I found, detailing the most expensive films made in 2014 (which you can find here), I did a little researching. Using IMDB I decided to list how many females were involved in the Top 15 most expensive films of 2014 using these criteria; amount of women listed in the top 5 casting list, how many of the writers were female and how many of these films were directed by women. This was merely an experiment to see just how much studios and production companies did actually back women and their abilities in this industry, and their willingness to give them the big bucks in order to make big blockbuster films created by and starring women.

And so, here are my results:

Film Name: Top 5 Cast: Writers Credit: Directors Credit:
Amazing Spiderman 2 1 0 0
Transformers: Age of Extinction 1 0 0
X-Men: Days of Future Past 2 1 0
Exodus: Gods and Kings 0 0 0
Maleficent 4 1 0
Edge of Tomorrow 1 0 0
Guardians of the Galaxy 1 1 0
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 1 0 0
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 1 1 0
Godzilla 1 0 0
Mr. Peabody & Sherman 1 0 0
How To Train Your Dragon 2 2 1 0
Noah 2 0 0
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1 0 0
300: Rise of the Empire 2 0 0
Totals: 21/75 (28%) 5/35 (14.2%) 0/15 (0%)

Simplifying this data we can see that of 75 actors just 21 of them were women, that’s just 28%. Let us remember that women take up about 50% of the actual population, that’s almost double the amount of women that are actually represented on screen in 2014 in the 15 most expensive films made. It is also fairly obvious that in most of these films, if women are represented, it’s through a more ‘token woman’ approach.

As for these films being influenced by women creatively, just 5 out of 35 writers were women. That’s 14.2%. And (though I wasn’t expecting miracles) the amount of female directors in these films was obviously 0.

Overall, there were only 26 women included in the 125 roles needed to create these films. Approximately 20.8%. Now, I know that these are specific criteria which I have hand selected, and so the data is debatable, however, I believe, does give a general indication of women actually included in films with big money. I could have chosen to examine just the lead-actor credit, in which case the resulting figure of represented females would have been considerably lower. If I had have chosen to use the top 10 billed cast, the figure would have been higher.

Regardless, I feel that this gives us a very stark insight into just how much the film industry, especially in Hollywood, is still controlled and taken up by men.

How can we expect female representations in film to change, and create films which pass the Bechdel test, or films where women are allowed to be complicated and complex when there are next-to-no women being allowed to create these characters through writing or direction. I think that we must put our faith where film studios with lots of money do not- into independent films. Films which are allowed more freedom of altering stereotypes and prejudices. And then eventually this will hopefully filter through to big Hollywood productions, who will then learn to change their ways. (One can only hope, right?!).

I understand that independent films are important and can help this change, but ultimately everyone’s eye is on Hollywood. It always is, and that is not changing. Hollywood productions reach the most people, and create the most impact, and so when women aren’t directing these films, audiences start to believe that women simply do not direct films, at all. Period. They believe that all women are supporting characters, and all women are just mothers, sisters, wives and daughters of a leading man.

I am not holding out much hope for significant change in 2015, however with films such as ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ and the all female-led ‘Ghostbusters’ in production I am at least seeing some more exposure to women overall. And what I am hoping is that these films will be successful and will show big studios with the big bucks that women can hold their own and can be interesting without being in reflection or reaction of male characters.