Here’s the gender (and race and queerness) problem with our current reboot culture: The products of yore that Hollywood is currently refashioning into new but familiar entertainment commodities are largely from decades past, when writers, directors, and toy designers cared a lot less than even today about inclusion and equality.
The ongoing superhero trend is but the most obvious example: Superman and Batman were born of the Great Depression, while relatively young whipper-snapper Spider-Man emerged during the Swinging Sixties. Given the eras they were created in, it’s no surprise all three are straight white men. Unfortunately, the recycling of characters from eons ago, combined with Hollywood’s lack of imagination and risk-taking, has largely led to the tacit reproduction of those eras’ values.
There are exceptions, of course, most prominently Battlestar Galactica‘s hotshot pilot Starbuck (played by actress Katee Sackhoff in 2004 reboot) and the exceptionally talented Michael B. Jordan’s casting as the Human Torch in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. Sadly, they remain exceptions, not the rule.
Which is why news that the BBC’s 2015 revival of the 1982 animated Bond spoof will turn some male characters female is so encouraging. Since the original cartoon featured so few female characters, the channel has opted for a gender swap per its goal of featuring more female characters in children’s programming.
“Characters that might have been male in the past will now be female characters,” announced CBBC controller Cheryl Taylor. “We felt that the redesign stayed truthful both to the essence of Danger Mouse as we knew and loved him, but also brought something new for the youth of today. … Having seen the scripts, which are really whizz-bang, they’ve managed to retain that fantastic rather old-fashioned British humour as well as bringing something fresh.”
The BBC’s tack is actually quite similar to the prescription Geena Davis recently laid out for including more female characters at the movies: “Go through the projects you’re already working on and change a bunch of the characters’ first names to women’s names. With one stroke you’ve created some colorful, unstereotypical female characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they’ve had a gender switch.”
So congrats to the BBC for doing reboots the right way.