Your cast for the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot is Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. Three of the four are either current or former Saturday Night Live players, while the fourth—McCarthy—has hosted SNL three times and garnered three Emmy nominations for it. Director Paul Feig confirmed the news on Twitter yesterday.
While this reboot, like the majority of uninspired Hollywood reboots of once-popular franchises, may be unnecessary, at least there’s a lot of talent behind it. Kristen Wiig is excellent in everything she does, and McKinnon is one of the best parts of what is a presently pedestrian SNL cast. McCarthy, at least, is very good at a particular type of comedic role—one which she will likely reprise in Ghostbusters.
But more important than the specific actors involved is the fact that it proves there may be actual momentum to produce more female-centric blockbuster movies in an industry that’s been toiling over doing so for years.
There was a brief period in the early 2000s with a number of female-centric action films, but it was very brief, and the films were very bad. This period was typified by the bomb that was Aeon Flux. Hollywood has mostly shelved the female action hero film since.
But lately, as the new Ghostbusters cast indicates, things are beginning to change, if incrementally. ABC’s series Agent Carter debuted this year to largely positive reviews. CBS will follow with a Supergirl series and Netflix is developing a Jessica Jones show alongside its Daredevil reboot.
Film-wise, Wonder Woman will feature in DC Entertainment’s Batman v Superman and Justice League movies before getting her own film in 2017. Marvel will join the trend in 2018 with a female Captain Marvel.
And there already are, of course, the colossal Hunger Games movies, a franchise that has parented countless imitators. The Hunger Games suggested that what drove the failure of earlier female-centric action movies wasn’t necessarily their female focus; more likely they were just bad movies. Meanwhile, there have been gripes about the lack of female heroes in comics and movies like Marvel’s.
Whether female-centric action films actually become a new norm will hinge on their box office success (and, considerably less so, critical esteem).
Emily Blunt, who plays a veteran soldier responsible for saving Tom Cruise’s ass on numerous occasions in the criminally underrated futuristic thriller Edge of Tomorrow, summed it up best when accepting her Critics Choice Award: ”It’s the greatest thing to not be a damsel in distress in an action movie.”
The Ghostbusters reboot will hit theaters July 22, 2016.