This Tuesday was the “International Day of the Girl”, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn took to Facebook to share his thoughts on the state of female characters in stories today, as well as to offer an update about what we can expect to see from the women in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:
Women all over the world have been pushed to the sidelines in the interests of men, and their personhood is often forgotten or delegitimized. This is true in the realms of politics and education and religion. But it is also true in the realm of STORIES. That is my personal area of expertise, and that is where I believe women – and girls – deserve the fullness of character that men have often received.
Gunn continued his comments, criticizing both the one-dimensional “object of desire” type of character, as well as the unrealistically flawless “strong female character” trope, arguing that great characters should “reflect the fullness of the world around us”:
I am sick of stories where there are a bunch of fully realized male characters and one female character, whose primary characteristic is simply being “the girl” or the personality-less object of some man’s affections. I’m not sick of this because I’m politically correct – those of you who know me know I am far from that – but because it’s boring, and it’s b.s. Likewise, I don’t think only making female characters “strong” is a fix either – you see her all the time these days, the perfect female warrior, who is a reaction to the stories of the past, but who is equally as boring and one-dimensional. Great male characters, from Michael Corleone to Marty McFly to Han Solo to the Joker, are never perfect and never one-dimensional. They are sometimes heroic and sometimes villainous and often deeply flawed. But they always reflect the fullness of the world around us. I do not think that is true of the majority of female characters in films.
With statements as strong as these, Gunn might run the risk of being called a hypocrite if his own films don’t live up to the standards that he’s set. Fortunately, if Gunn’s comments about what to expect from Mantis, Gamora, and Nebula in the upcoming Guardians sequel are to be believed, there doesn’t seem to be too much to worry about on that front:
I can’t wait for you all to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with Gamora, Nebula, and Mantis in action, where we not only pass the Bechdel test, but run over it and back up over it again and again in an eighteen-wheeler truck, and where their stories and the men’s stories don’t come at the expense of each other, but are interwoven in a way to strengthen and optimize all of them.
You can read Gunn’s full Facebook post below: