When I saw the trailer for Lucy a few months back, the movie looked pretty bad to me, but I thought about maybe going to see it anyway, because I suspected that it would be seen as an indication of whether Scarlett Johansson could hold up an action movie. I figured if Lucy did badly (which I wrongly predicted it would), then there would be no chance of the solo Black Widow movie that many of us have been longing for.
Turns out I needn't have worried about the movie's financial performance. Last weekend, its opening weekend, it was the #1 movie in the US (in terms of ticket sales). This weekend, ticket sales have dropped off by a lot, but it's still at #2. And apparently its opening was “the third-highest female-driven action movie of all time, behind Angelina Jolie's Wanted and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.”
There've been pessimistic articles suggesting that reviews for the movie are weak and that the audience is likely to drop away quickly. So I don't know how studios will interpret that. Still, although I know very little about how Hollywood works, I'm more optimistic about the chances of a Black Widow movie now than I was a couple weeks ago.
(A couple interesting articles about the politics of Lucy: “Scarlett Johansson Vs. the Faceless Men of Color” (contains many major spoilers)—which suggests that the movie doesn't treat people of color very well; also looks at her career, and at a couple of other recent American movies—and “Scarlett Johansson's Subversive Vanishing Act” (contains some spoilers), which notes that the movie “functions simultaneously as a critique of the objectification of Hollywood starlets, as well as a cheap, vulgar embrace of it.”)
Meanwhile, unrelated to Lucy or Johansson, Guardians of the Galaxy has done amazingly well at the box office on opening this weekend; the biggest North American August opening ever. I mention this in the same post as the Lucy stuff because this could be another case where Hollywood might be paying attention to box-office performance related to gender, because Guardians is the first Marvel movie to have a woman credited as a screenplay writer. If the movie had done badly, would anyone have said that having a female co-writer was the reason? I have no idea. But I'm glad not to have to find out. The movie has now demonstrated that, at the very least, having a woman co-write an action movie is not a liability.
While I'm here, I'll mention my own reactions: I had never read any comics featuring the Guardians until their recent appearance in Captain Marvel, and I don't find them particularly interesting. The trailer for the movie didn't appeal to me at all, and I confess that I was in the “why is Marvel following up on its amazing success with this goofy second-string set of heroes?” camp. But I think I'm going to see it, partly because everyone's saying it's fun, but partly because Chris Pratt, who plays Star-Lord, comes across as fun and sweet in a BuzzFeedBrews interview. The audio is almost inaudible in that, at least on my machine, so here's an animated GIF sequence that captures the best part: Chris Pratt learns of the existence of X-rated Marvel-movie fanfic. The words on the GIF are slightly summarized/edited; I thought about transcribing the relevant bit, but I'm too lazy, so instead I'll just point you to the one-minute-long segment starting around 13:30 in the abovelinked video.
(And btw, if you keep watching after that, a minute or two later there's an entertaining moment when he's asked what his favorite pizza topping is, and he blurts out “penis!”)
I realize that the actor's attitude isn't necessarily at all relevant to the movie. But it nonetheless makes me more interested in seeing it.
And I really love that we've got major male action-hero actors these days who are so completely casually unhomophobic.