16 Spoiler-Free Reasons Why You're Looking Forward To Ridley Scott's Prometheus
In the wake of the staggering success of The Avengers, new focus has been given to the fantastic Joss Whedon and, specifically, his career-long role as a champion of strong, sexy, complex female leads. But while he certainly deserves any and all accolades you care to heap on him (particularly for drawing such a nuanced and enjoyable performance from the sometimes wooden Scarlett Johansson), Joss Whedon was by no means the first male auteur to advocate for women who were both physically strong and emotionally deep. And while I'm not ready to label director Ridley Scott as the first, he's certainly one of the earliest candidates. With his creation of Ellen Ripley in 1979, Scott blew open the doors for female action heroes. In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, however, Scott admits some surprise at all the fervor that surrounded the gender of his lead:
This rather pretty woman who everyone assumed in the first act was going to be one of the first ones to cop it gradually starts to take up the mantle, and the weapon. To me, it's always organic and not a specific decision to make her female, but afterwards, there's always 20/20 hindsight, isn't there? I read with slightly raised eyebrows the surprise and the power about having a female lead instead of a male lead, and it refocused my awareness about what we've done. It was a calculated risk as well in a film that's fundamentally a traditional "who's going to be the last one standing in a big, dark house." In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which was significantly frightening for me at that particular point cause I looked at it just prior to making Alien, that girl was still standing at the end covered in blood, but she'd survived rather than won. The difference with Ripley was that she had won and survived.
That "refocused awareness" that Scott references has cropped up again and again in his work. Despite the fact that the very macho Russell Crowe has emerged, of late, as Scott's "muse," it's worth remembering and acknowledging Scott's continued and admirable portrayal of women. So despite the fact that I've read almost nothing about Prometheus in a desperate attempt to avoid spoilers, I'm confident that the characters portrayed by Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron will make me feel all warm and fuzzy with the girl power. Lest you doubt it, here are 16 reminders.
Sean Young as Rachael in Blade Runner
Marion Cotillard as Fanny Chenal in A Good Year (Not one of Scott's strongest efforts, but he gets points for casting Cotillard before all the La Vie En Rose attention.)
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Alien
Alison Lohman as Angela in Matchstick Men (Without going into specifics, Scott masterfully plays her fragile and childlike features against type in one of the strongest pay-offs in recent memory.)
Eva Green as Sybilla in Kingdom Of Heaven (Green is one of the few people who acquitted themselves well in this one.)
Demi Moore as Jordan O'Neill in G.I. Jane
Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian in Robin Hood (She dons battle armor, y'all, and in a believable way, not in a "why is Keira Knightley playing Guinevere as a Celtic archer?" kind of way.)
Connie Nielsen as Lucilla in Gladiator
Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling in Hannibal (Not the best Clarice, sure, but a damn fine one.)
Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis as You Know Who in Thelma and Louise
Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw in Prometheus
Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers in Prometheus
Scott earns bonus points for the role he has played (however tangential) in creating three of the strongest female characters on network television:
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockheart and Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick and in "The Good Wife"
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda in "The Good Wife"