Guardians of the Galaxy, Sci-Fi + The Bechdel Test

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Space. Man’s final frontier. The potentialities of Space are far-reaching, its sheer vastness alone, enough to daunt and inspire. The science-fiction genre of film seems to reflect – in a figurative sense – that boundlessness, via imagined universes and utopias where women can be more comprehensive individuals.  From Sigourney Weaver as gunslinging, alien slayer Ellen Ripley to Charlize Theron’s role as Imperator Furiosa in ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ the genre has facilitated multidimensional characters for women.

In an interview with Badass Digest, Zoe Saldana, star of three major Sci-Fi franchises stated, “I like being in space because there are better parts for women in space. I don’t have to subject myself to just being the love interest or playing a character that doesn’t feel relevant to the story or playing a woman that doesn’t feel like an actual depiction of a real woman.”

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ writer/director James Gunn has promised that ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ will continue to portray female characters in equally important roles as their male counterparts. The film stars three leading ladies Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) in kick-ass roles:

“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 18-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.”

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It is no secret media’s representation of gender is problematic. When it comes to blockbusters, underrepresentation is staggering. In 2015, men outnumbered women 2-to-1 in Hollywood’s top 100 grossing films, despite comprising half of the world’s total population. What’s more the prevalence of female speaking characters on screen was a low 31.4 percent of the 4,370 speaking characters analyzed by Dr. Stacy Smith’s Media Diversity & Social Change Initiative at USC Annenberg. However, it would seem that the industry’s latest space films are offering a sea change, adding pivotal women to their respective universes. ‘Rogue One’ Disney’s first-spinoff ‘Star Wars’ anthology will see another female lead with rebel fighter and heroine, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones, ‘Theory of Everything’); fresh on the heels of ‘The Force Awakens’ budding Jedi, Rey (Daisy Ridley). While there is still progress to be made and not every fan is on board with the direction these narratives have taken, directors like Gunn and J.J. Abrams are helping to pioneer the new wave of strong female-led film franchises.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,’ debuts in U.S. theaters on May 5, 2017.

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