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.

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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.

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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.

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Ant-Man trailer

IMG_0570Now, disclaimer time! I find Marvel films super fun and enjoyable let’s not get off on the wrong foot here.

However! The recent Ant-Man trailer was released and it was just so… blah. You can see it here if you haven’t already. The poster, is brilliant. It’s funny and witty if a little predictable. But as I watched the trailer I found myself almost knowing what was coming next. It seemed nothing more than a rehash of what had come before and what viewers had seen before.

All films take some form of narrative path that in most cases is predictable. Beginning, middle, end, for a start. Specifically with Marvel films the path is something a lot like this; hero is unsuspecting of impending abilities; the wise owl helpful character lets him in on the secret; hero suffers identity crisis; inevitably hero embraces powers and saves the world when it is threatened.

This path isn’t 100% what irks me. You’ll find all superhero films pretty much follow that. What annoys me is how there doesn’t seem like anything else in that trailer that pulls it apart from this generic superhero narrative path. It was bland and it was predictable. Even the suspenseful music, the wise old man’s narration and the attempted funny quips from Rudd that seemed to fall flat were all boring. Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Perhaps I’m just extremely irked that instead of giving us a Black Widow film (because a female superhero just isn’t believable, of course), we get a guy who rides an ant. Right yeah, cool. I though Ant-Man and Aquaman were like the ‘scraping the barrel’ superheroes and yet they’re still getting their own movies? Wow.

It’s a shame that I was disappointed in the trailer cos Paul Rudd is all kinds of awesome. And let’s not get me started on Corey Stoll, who I’ve never seen as anyone except Russo on House of Cards but I’m super excited for his inevitable success.

I’m still interested, I like most Marvel films, and I’m sure that when this one is released I’ll enjoy it. I’m hoping that the trailer is just keeping some big fun elements saved for the big release.

Agent Carter’s Importance

agent carterWith the new Agent Carter series premiering tonight over in the States, it got me thinking about how important giving a female character from a largely male-driven universe her own show really is. For those of you who may not know, Peggy Carter (played by Hayley Atwell) is the female lead in the first Captain America film, and then provides a cameo in its sequel: The Winter Soldier. During the run up to the premiere of the show, Hayley Atwell has become more and more active on twitter, with one particular post catching my eye when I scrolled past someone’s screencap of it on tumblr a few days ago. Hayley was sharing with her followers, the makeup, specifically lipstick, that Peggy uses.

If you asked any fan to describe Peggy Carter, her makeup would inevitably be high on their list as it is an integral part of her aesthetic. However, this particular tumblr user’s post which I scrolled past, seemed extremely disgruntled with this development; saying how ‘pathetic’ this was and that Atwell and fans ‘should be more interested in what guns she uses’. Now, I really hope an eyebrow was raised here, because I sure as hell did when I first read that as I was unwittingly browsing tumblr with my cup of tea the other afternoon. Carter has, more than once, shown us how capable she is in handling guns and taking care of herself, so why having an interest in makeup is pathetic is beyond me.

Hayley Atwell's Twitter

Hayley Atwell’s Twitter

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that some fanboys are panicking a little at something being specifically for us. For the mostly female fanbase. (Or boys who wear makeup, y’know, whatever makes you feel badass). Where fans of Thor can collect various forms of Mjolnir and fans of Iron Man can collect mugs of his head (no, seriously you can); Agent Carter fans can collect the makeup that she uses. Interestingly, there’s a large history around male fans shunning female fans from things they deem ‘theirs’, especially on the internet, and accusing them of ‘faking’ their love of all things ‘geeky’ for various reasons including ‘just trying to get boys to fancy them’ and other trivial nonsense when women express being fans of something.

Fans can wear Peggy Carter’s lipstick, feel kickass, and no one else even needs to know that they’re wearing it if they don’t want to inform them. Liking the makeup that Carter wears, and not the guns that she uses, doesn’t make anyone any less of a fan or any less of a feminist. It also doesn’t trivialise Carter’s accomplishments; being taken seriously shouldn’t encroach on your femininity. If that lipstick makes a fan, or even Carter herself, feel amazing, boost their morale and feel like it is their own personal firearm- then what is the problem?

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Makeup, more specifically red lipstick, was extremely important during the war effort in the 1940s. So important in fact, that Winston Churchill and Elizabeth Arden teamed up to create the perfect red lipstick in ‘Montezuma Red’, to raise morale in both genders during World War ll. And so, with it’s importance in real life, should it not play a part now..?

Since her character’s success within the fandom, and the unrelenting pressure within internet communities upon Marvel and film studios for more female presences in superhero films, as well as for female characters to be given their own solo films as Thor, Iron Man, Captain American and others have been. It becomes clear that ‘Agent Carter’ is a form of experiment; to gauge audience reaction and success of a female led story line. Peggy Carter battles multiple forms of sexism in ‘Agent Carter’ in the 1940’s, and it seems as though Hayley Atwell faces the 2015 parallels in the entertainment industry. If this experiment of Marvel’s fails, I think we can pretty much kiss goodbye to a Black Widow solo film.

The pilot episode has received rave reviews (here and here for example) and I’m particularly excited. She is an interesting character, has amazing lipstick too lbr, and I hugely want this to be a success even if it just kickstarts a wider interest in the demand for female superheroes to be brought to the forefront.

‘Agent Carter’ premieres tonight in America on ABC. Will you be watching? If you’re not from America, are you gonna watch it once if eventually makes it’s way over this side of the pond? And perhaps more importantly, who’s gonna order that amazing lipstick?!