You may think it's a new trend, but women have been replacing male protagonists in impactful roles for years. 1940 classic His Girl Friday featured female lead Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), who was supposed to be a man as per the original source material. Hilary Swank replaced Ralph Macchio in the 1994 reboot of The Karate Kid, as Mr Miyagi’s new protégé. More recently, the iconic British TV show Doctor Who cast Jodie Whittaker to play the titular role of the time-travelling alien, Doctor, earlier played by Peter Capaldi. While this doesn't solve the issue of inequality, representation matters, especially in internationally-acclaimed franchises. Here's a closer look at a few of the most popular films that have gender-swapped their main characters.Pirates of the Caribbean (TBA)
Margot Robbie is all set to play the role of a swashbuckling female pirate in one of Disney’s most lucrative film franchises of all time, Pirates of the Caribbean. According to reports, Robbie will play the lead in an original story, under the Pirates umbrella, which would be written by Birds of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson. Though little is known about the project, it is confirmed that it will be separate from the Pirates reboot that is being worked upon by the original movies’ writer Ted Elliott and Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin. Robbie and Hodson have also teamed up to launch an initiative called Lucky Exports Pitch Program, which helps female-identifying writers get hired by big studios to write action-centric movies.
Streaming on Disney+ HotstarNo Time to Die (2020)
Denying all reports of the world finally seeing a female lead in the James Bond series, the executive producer of the famous franchise, Barbara Broccoli, has confirmed that Bond will remain a male character. The creators are, however, featuring prominent female icons within the movies, who will have more to do than just be an accessory to the world-famous spy. In the latest Bond instalment, British actor Lashana Lynch (who you might know from Captain Marvel) will play the new Agent 007. This doesn't mean that she'll be James Bond, but she will be replacing him after his retirement. While it may not be a best-case scenario, it’s a decent start.
Available to buy on Amazon Prime VideoGhostbusters (2016)
The 2016 remake of the 1984 supernatural comedy by director Paul Fieg had the entire cast gender-swapped. The reboot starred Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon playing reworked versions of the original characters played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Harold Ramis. Despite being favoured by critics, the movie met with severe criticism from fans of the original cast. According to reports, the film is getting another sequel, helmed by Jason Reitman (son of the director of the original 1984 movie). This one will disregard the 2016 reboot, and have the ghost busting group consist of two male and two female teenagers.
Streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime VideoOcean’s 8 (2018)
The film is a semi-sequel and spin-off of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy that featured an ensemble cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. However, the 2018 movie featured Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Awkwafina and Sarah Paulson. In Ocean's 8, Sandra Bullock plays the role of Debbie Ocean, Danny Ocean’s incarcerated kid sister. After getting out of prison, Debbie decides to bring back her old crew together again (with some new additions), to pull off a heist. Their target is at the annual Met Gala, so there are plenty of red carpet moments to gawk at, and several celebrity cameos liberally scattered around for our perusal.
Streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime VideoThe Hustle (2019)
Another female-led remake starring Anne Hathaway, this 2019 comedy is a remake of the 1988 film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, starring Michael Cain and Steve Martin. In the original, Cain plays the role of an educated and suave conman who stages elaborate ruses to swindle rich women. Martin plays the less refined, small-time American rival and student. In the reboot, Anne Hathaway plays the role of the sophisticated con artist who specialises in tricking some of the world’s richest men out of their money. Rebel Wilson plays the swindler who traps men into giving her money. Together they execute complicated schemes.
Streaming on DIRECTVStar Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
This one might not necessarily be a reboot, but The Force Awakens (2015) marked the beginning of the Star Wars trilogy. The film was noted for its remarkable similarities with the first movie in the original trilogy, New Hope (1977). This time, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) was replaced by Rey (Daisy Ridley), an orphan scavenger who happens upon a droid that leads her to become a part of a rebel insurgence against the First Order. Even though it’s a stretch, you can say that Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o) is a counterpart for the all-knowing Yoda.
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