Since the creation of cinema, Hollywood has had an interesting history of how women are treated. Whether it’d be how they are portrayed in movies or how actresses are being treated at their jobs, women have had an unfair amount of these moments.
Luckily, within the past couple of years, there has seemed to be a great change in how women are presented in cinema. More women are starting to be in the director’s chair like Greta Gerwig, Ava DuVernay, Marielle Heller, and many more. Women are also becoming more accurately portrayed as female superheroes are finally getting their own movies and women are becoming more realistically represented. Women are finally getting the traction they need to making their voices heard in the industry.
In 2019, there was a new record number of movies directed by a woman. Movies such as Little Women, Frozen 2, Captain Marvel, Booksmart, Hustlers, The Farewell, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood had women in the director’s chair and received massive acclaim financially and critically. It shows a major culture shift in the industry as the position of a director has mostly never been a woman.
Noted, there have been female directors in the past that have made big films (Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, Patty Jenkins, Mary Harron, etc.), but it’s just now that major studios are placing women in this position. In 2020 alone, most if not all of the blockbuster movies set to release are directed by women.
In fact, one of the first directors of filmmaking was a woman by the name of Alice Guy-Blaché. Guy-Blaché was the first woman to ever direct a film and one of the pioneers as she made over 1000 motion pictures. It seems crazy to think about, but it’s a fact that Hollywood has seemed to have forgotten. Her biggest ones have been Algie the Minor (1912) and The Cabbage Fairy (1896), the latter being the first motion picture with a narrative. Nonetheless, it is fantastic that we are seeing a change today and women are directing movies.
Despite the shift of women taking over as directors, the question of whether or not women are portrayed accurately in movies is still looming over people’s heads. In my own opinion, I think that yes women are being better portrayed now. We see it in all types of movies that women are being independent and their own selves, rather than being something else for someone.
2019’s Little Women is probably the best example of seeing women portrayed as they should in today’s world. Now, the movie is set in 1800s America during the civil war, but lead character Jo March has the independence that women and young girls should aspire to have. In the movie, she showcases her empowerment for women when she’s talking to Marmee and says “women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts…they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for.” She says this as she has been shown to get her novel published, cut her hair short, and show the men she interacts with that she doesn’t need to rely on them for anything. From all of this, Jo March stands as the inspiring independent woman that all women-especially young girls-can look to for influence.
Superhero movies have always seemed to be a male-dominated genre in Hollywood. You look at characters like Superman, Batman, Ironman, and Spider-Man who have shaped the genre. Throughout the past decade, the genre has seen a shift in how women are seen in these movies. In 2017, DC’s Wonder Woman was a smashing success as it was the heroine’s first outing on the big screen. The response to it was met with massive acclaim as Patty Jenkins is applauded for her direction as well as Gal Gadot for her portrayal of the titular character.
On the other hand, we see Marvel showcasing Black Widow who is just as tough as Wonder Woman. Although she didn’t get her own movie until this year, Black Widow has been a big face in the superhero genre. By being a side character for a number of movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Widow proved to be a hero that kids can look up to. However, it took until May 2016 for Marvel to start developing a solo Black Widow movie. Finally, in 2018, animation studio Pixar came out with Incredibles 2, which features a subplot of a female superhero named Elastigirl going on a solo mission without her husband Mr. Incredible.
Overall, women of Hollywood have seen a great change in how they are treated. It’s been a weird shift in how women work in the industry, but luckily in today’s world, it’s getting better. If Alice Guy Blaché could see what the industry is today, she would be proud. More women directors are stepping up and taking on major projects that become successful. We saw it last year with movies such as Booksmart, Hustlers, The Farewell, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and we see it now as a lot of the blockbusters set to come out this year are directed by women. Young girls are getting more movies with strong female figures from superheroes to independent characters from popular novels. Women are finally getting the traction they need to making their voices heard in the industry.