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Peter T Chattaway

Trope watch: Women replacing men.

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It seems like a lot of franchises have been dipping into this trope lately. Not sure what I can say without getting into spoilers, but recent films that arguably fit this label include:

  • Terminator: Dark Fate 
  • Charlie's Angels
  • Doctor Sleep (sequel to The Shining)
  • Dark Phoenix (the last X-Men movie)

Notably, perhaps, all four of those films have been box-office flops.

Some would add the Disney Star Wars trilogy (which *isn't* a box-office flop) to this list, but I dunno. There's an entire generational switch-over happening there.

Overlapping with this, perhaps, is the recent Logan / Star Trek: Picard trope where an aging male hero takes a young woman under his wing to protect her, possibly at the cost of his life, etc.

Any other examples that one could point to?


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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A bit dated, but the recently concluded television show Elementary replaces John Watson with Joan Watson. 

Would Judi Dench's run in the Bond franchise qualify? Or is it now reversed again?

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*** SPOILERS FOR THE FILMS I MENTIONED IN THE FIRST POST ***

To be clear, I don't think merely gender-swapping one or more characters fits into this trope. The all-female Ghostbusters wouldn't fit into this trope, for me, any more than, I dunno, The Incredible Shrinking Woman. There has to be something *at the narrative level* about a woman replacing a man *within the story*. The all-female Ghostbusters is a movie about women who bust ghosts, period; it is *not* a movie about women replacing men who used to bust ghosts.

Dark Phoenix is a movie in which Mystique openly criticizes Xavier for naming the X-Men after himself, and for calling it X-*Men* and thereby ignoring the contribution made by women like her. By the end of the film, if memory serves, Xavier has renamed the school after one of his former female students.

Terminator: Dark Fate literally begins with the murder of John Connor, and then the rest of the movie takes place on a timeline where we are told that the world will *now* be saved not by Connor but by some woman that we've never heard of before.

Charlie's Angels does to Bosley what Mission: Impossible did to Jim Phelps -- makes the team leader from the TV series the villain of the movie -- and gives the team-leader job to a new character played by Elizabeth Banks. (The actor who plays the old Bosley, Patrick Stewart, might be new to the franchise, but the film begins with images of him hanging out with the stars of the 1970s TV series *and* the stars of the 2000s movies, so he's basically playing the "same" Bosley that those installments of the franchise had.) What's more, the film "reveals" that Charlie himself was actually a woman all along, who used a machine to make her voice sound masculine.

Doctor Sleep doesn't really exist within the same sort of franchise as the others, and on some level it might be more like Logan inasmuch as it's about a man protecting and/or passing the torch to a girl or young woman.

Judi Dench as M is an interesting case. When she was first introduced in GoldenEye, both she and Moneypenny made a point of chastising Pierce Brosnan's Bond for his sexist ways. But by the last Brosnan film, Moneypenny was lusting after Bond, and then the Daniel Craig films came along and Dench's M became more of a mother figure. In any case, Dench was not the main character, Bond was -- but now we're hearing that the new Bond film coming out next year will replace Bond with a woman, too. (But the woman won't be Bond, per se; she'll just be the agent who is given his former number 007, if I understand correctly. There is some talk of giving this woman her own spin-off series, but I heard similar rumours when Halle Berry played Jinx in Die Another Day, and *those* rumours came to nothing in the end, so... we'll see.)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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kenmorefield wrote:
: Men in Black International?

I *thought* about that one, but... I don't think so. Yes, the film makes a point of questioning the word "Men" in the title (just as Dark Phoenix questions the "X-Men" moniker), but the film is balanced pretty evenly between Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth, and I never got the impression that Thompson's character was *replacing* anyone. (Thompson does, however, take Hemsworth's place as ruler of the Asgardians in Avengers: Endgame...)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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