Last summer, I only saw three movies at the theater from May until September. If you’re curious, they were Captain America: Civil War, Ghostbusters, and The Nice Guys. All three were good movies and I enjoyed them, but my favorite experience, by far, was Ghostbusters.
Watching four women save the world from ghosts was not only super fun, but it felt exciting in a way that was… specifically for me. I had goosebumps. It was honestly a little overwhelming. I went through a cycle of emotions after that – I was happy a big summer movie featuring women heroes existed, but I was also really irritated that so many movies still placed an unnecessary hard cap on my (and most people’s) possible enjoyment by not including women, POCs, or other perspectives in their stories. But maybe this wouldn’t feel so new one day and it would be normal to see everyone represented in wide-release summer movies?
[Cut to summer 2017]
This summer, the cinema has upped its game. I’ve already seen six movies and it’s not even August. But none of them have left me feeling as good as Wonder Woman. I saw it opening night with my partner, and then gave it my money a second time with my best friend. We loved this movie in that specific Ghostbusters way.
Now that I know what it feels like to watch movies that aren’t just the same white men making movies about white men being cool, I want more, and I want better. Here’s a quick list of some “Perfectly good & enjoyable, but there’s a cap on that enjoyment” movies I’ve already seen this summer:
1. War for the Planet of the Apes: A technical masterpiece. The direction, score, special effects, and genius of Andy Serkis as Caesar, created an engaging, beautiful movie. But, I also found myself cringing at the story. A larger, seriously problematic theme was overt. And this entire franchise is undeniably rooted in misogyny. I never thought I’d say this, but we deserve better stories about apes taking over the earth.
2. Spiderman Homecoming: A very well done Spidey-reboot from Sony/Marvel. We should be sick of getting new Spidermen but with this great cast & fun story, we’re back in!… Rooting once more for Peter Parker when Miles Morales could have been our first POC Spiderman? I know there are hints that it’s coming, but why not now? This movie was solid, but seems like a possible missed opportunity, made even more obvious by the fact that everyone else in this movie is not a white guy, except the main hero & villain, of course.
Look, all these films are all very highly rated, and I enjoyed them – I laughed, smiled, and felt emotions. I don’t think enjoying something means you can’t discuss its problems. I’m just so tired of saying, “I enjoyed this movie, but…” And as long as big-budget storytelling is predominantly a white male-centric domain, these stories will be problematic & limited. And so will our enjoyment.
Photo Credit: ScreenRant