Although I enjoyed The Lego Movie immensely (it’s clever and funny and visually stunning), I wasn’t really looking forward to the inevitable sequel — until now.
Lego Movie 2 director Chris McKay, who served as the original film’s animation supervisor and editor, has given an incredibly introspective interview to The Daily Mail regretting the blockbuster hit’s sidelining of its female characters.
“I’m not sure our movie passes the Bechdel test entirely, and I think that it’s important,” he said. The AV Club notes there’s some debate about whether its grade: “One of its primary female characters — Alison Brie’s Unikitty — isn’t actually a human woman, and therefore [might not] count.”
Notably, McKay credits female voices to reminding the Lego Movie team that the film should appeal to both genders: “We have a lot of producers that were female who had concerns, and we were always constantly saying to ourselves, ‘Are we just a bunch of white guys sitting here making this movie from our own myopic point of view?’
“We were constantly responding to that question,” continued McKay, “and that helped us make [Elizabeth Banks’ punky freedom-fighter] Wyldstyle a better character and Unikitty a more interesting character.”
“Sexism is something that’s part of our culture and something that we need to adjust,” he added. “People, when they make movies, they have a responsibility to at least examine that. Obviously you have to look at the kind of story you’re trying to tell and the theme, but people don’t underestimate the value of hard, cool female characters who have their own agency. That’s the thing we’re not doing enough as filmmakers.”
McKay promised “strong females” in the sequel.
We at Women and Hollywood aren’t huge fans of the Bechdel Test (and have proposed alternatives in its stead), but it’s still exciting and encouraging to see individual filmmakers publicly discuss their struggles to fight against their own demographic myopia and declare the importance of having female characters who aren’t just reacting to male leads, but driving the story.
And sure, I’d be way more into the Lego Movie sequel if it were about Wyldstyle (and not just about her love life), but I’ll happily sit through more of blank-slate protagonist Emmet’s adventures if it also means more interesting female characters.