The Women of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. is funny, action-packed and full of nostalgia (Kurt Russell in a Disney Movie! A classic Fleetwood Mac song!), but it is also one of a growing number of action films with great roles for women.
If you loved the first movie, you’ll like that Vol. 2 follows our ragtag group of renegades on another space adventure. This time, the tumultuous relationship between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and her sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) is fleshed out. Not only are they in some kick-ass fight scenes (with each other and everyone else), you get to understand why Nebula hates Gamora.
Saldana talked about those scenes at a press conference last month in Los Angeles. She said that her relationship with Gamora was her favorite part of the film.
“I’m one of three sisters. I have been itching and yearning to see more of a female presence in action films because I love action films,” she said. “I love watching The Equalizer and I’ll watch that 50 times over any kind of dramatic piece. And so to have a film with three, three female characters that are adding such unique qualities to the film and they are very relevant and their relationships are explored deeply. I was appreciative and super excited and in a way anxious because I know that Gamora is a much more reserved character, so we couldn’t make it a soap opera like I would have wanted to.”
They work through their issues in spectacular ways – cool fight scenes on a newly-introduced utopian world – and the old-fashioned way – by talking it out. “I wanted to be crying with nose goo and everything and James (writer and director James Gunn) is like, “You’re like the Clint Eastwood of the movie,” and I was like, “Who’s that? What’s that?”’
Gamora and Nebula are only two of the kick-ass female stars in this movie. They’re joined by new characters, Mantis (Pom Klementieff), an insect-like alien who can read and change people’s emotions, and gold-painted villain, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki). I asked producer Kevin Feige if there was a conscious decision to include more strong female characters in the franchise.
“…there’s lots and lots of great female characters in the comics that we want to bring to life on screen and it was very important to James to include these characters and more than just include them, give them their own storyline and have it be more than just their ability to fight or (have a) romance with a male character and that’s why I think Nebula and Gamora are the, you know, high point of the movie and that relationship is one of the biggest and best arcs of the whole movie is that sister relationship,” Feige said.
Gunn did not just want to add more women. He wanted to add interesting female characters. Men will sometimes add women to a film and make them one dimensional. “…I think one of the things that we’ve tried to do with the Guardians films is to allow the women to be full characters, and I think the character of Mantis in the movie, one of the reasons why we love that character is because people love Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, and they’re all kind of like the Clint Eastwood cool character, they’re all funny, but they’re also cool. But adding Mantis is somebody who’s as funny and goofy and weird as Drax and Rocket and our goofy male characters, and that’s a way to combat those stereotypes of what a male and a female actor can be.”
The Mantis character was refreshing because it’s rare to see an action hero whose super power revolves around feelings – not destruction. Ayesha, on the other hand, is out for blood and so is Nebula, but for different reasons.
Gillan said she’s very invested in her character and feels she needs to explain why Nebula is justified in being such an evil villain. “…for me that is just to do with her backstory and her relationship with her father and her sister and so I was just so excited to explore that in the second movie,” she said. “…I felt so lucky to get to portray that side of her.”
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens on Friday. Come back on Friday to see my full review.