Princesses Into Generals: Wonder Woman and the transformed role of actresses

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It’s wonderful that we’re at a time in history where we can compare the significant changes to how women are represented in film, simply by looking at different roles played by the same actress. Wonder Woman and Star Wars are the perfect examples.

Wonder Woman featured one of my favourite actresses in Robin Wright. Robin Wright plays General Antiope in the movie, and what a powerful character she is. It’s incredibly interesting to compare the character she played in Wonder Woman with another that she played, Princess Buttercup from The Princess Bride.

Princess Buttercup needs Wesley
Princess Buttercup needs rescuing again. Source: 20th Century Fox

In the Princess Bride Robin Wright gave a wonderful performance of being a feisty, but in desperate need of being rescued again and again, Princess. I think Wesley saves her around 236 times in the movie. If you watched that performance now, you can rest assured that audiences would not be happy with how the lead actress is portrayed. And, this is just great.

While I wouldn’t say it’s where it needs to be, the tide is definitely turning. Clearly, there has been a transformed role of actresses, and women are now rightfully leading the show.

Princess Buttercup is now General Antiope, and perfectly capable of taking care of herself. There’s a fantastically shot scene where the Amazon women are hurtling towards invaders on horseback without a male in sight. This wouldn’t have been taken seriously in the 80s, but it finally is now.

General Antiope attacking
General Antiope doesn’t need rescuing. Source: DC Comics

Robin Wright also plays Claire Underwood in House of Cards – another example of a strong role model for women. In House of Cards she consistently pursues her own agenda whilst rubbing shoulders with her husband, the President of the United States. I don’t think the impact of having Robin Wright playing these characters can be exaggerated for people in my generation, and the perception jolt it rightly gives.

The same can be said for Star Wars, where Princess Leia, played by the much loved and recently passed away Carrie Fisher, has become General Leia. The lead role in Rogue One was also female, played by Felicity Jones in the role of Jyn Erso.

In a way, Princess Leia helped to develop this trend way back in the 70s where she played an aggressive, witty, independent member of the Rebels. But she still needed to be rescued, in all three of the original Star Wars films, by a man.

General Leia is a strong, independent woman
General Leia suffers no fools. Source: Disney

In The Force Awakens, Leia is the General of the Resistance. Nuff said.

The success of Wonder Woman, Rogue One and the like should ensure this transformed role of actresses continues. And it’s about time.

 

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