*WARNING: contains spoilers*
Yesterday, my mom, sister, and I had a girls' day out. We grabbed a bite to eat, did some shopping, and saw a movie. I know it sounds like a stereotype, but I can say from personal experience that most girls, at least those I know, would probably go see Aloha or The Longest Ride, but we’re not like most girls. (I had to check IMDB just now to see what romantic, “girly” films are currently in theaters.) Instead, we chose to see Mad Max: Fury Road. My mom is a die-hard fan of the original Mad Max films, and doesn’t usually go for remakes, but we were able to convince her to go for the reboot. I was excited to see the movie from the first trailer, and boy did it exceed my expectations.
As I mentioned before, I’m not really your typical girly girl. Don’t get me wrong, I am girly; I think makeup is fun, my fingernails are always polished, and I love dresses, but I dig a lot of “boy” things too. Action films are no exception. Based on the title of the movie and the trailers I saw, I guessed that Mad Max: Fury Road would primarily focus on the lead character, Max, played by Tom Hardy, with Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa being more of a sidekick and the wives being damsels in distress. I was so wrong. And I am not complaining. Not only was Furiosa a total badass, but the whole objective was to find a clan of WOMEN, who also turned out to be total badasses. The wives actually did something other than run around half naked and look pretty. They fought, worked on the vehicle, took turns standing watch. Did Hollywood actually make an action film that focused on women? When I first left the movie, my answer to that question was “YES!” Now, my answer is more, “Eh. Sort of.”
I loved the movie and the abundance of strong female characters, but would it have had as much success if it had been marketed differently? My sister and I had a debate yesterday about women in films – right before seeing Mad Max. We were discussing the lack of a Black Widow movie, and although I would love to see one, I really am not sure if it would be a success. Do men want to watch a female-led superhero movie? I don’t know. Would women go see it? Again, I don’t know. Most of the women I know really couldn’t care less about superheroes or action movies. My sister says her friends would want to watch it. She’s 8 years younger than I am, so maybe there is a difference because of the age group? Maybe I am just hanging with the wrong crowd? I have always bonded with guys because of our shared interests. I love superheroes, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, etc. I’d rather watch Die Hard than A Walk to Remember. I can name a handful of girls I have known in my 25 years who would agree with me. I just cannot help but wonder, “If the posters and trailers for Mad Max: Fury Road had represented the female characters, if they had marketed it to clearly show that there were women fighting as much as, if not more than, the men, would men still have gone to see it? Would women who were not interested in the film decide to go?” It pains me to say it, but I think the answer to these questions is “no,” and I think they knew that. They marketed it to men because they thought that men would buy tickets, not women. They had to reach the demographic that would make them the most money. After all, that is the point.
Even with my unanswered questions, I still thoroughly enjoyed Mad Max: Fury Road, and would recommend it to anyone who loves action films. It was a little strange – I mean, what was with the nipple clamps? – but what post-apocalyptic story is complete without some quirkiness? It also gives me hope that Hollywood might be heading in the right direction when it comes to women. So maybe the marketing didn’t represent them very well, but they were there, and they kicked ass, so it’s a start.