Female Remakes: Pros and Cons

by Kali Tuttle
Female Remakes

Feminism is now on its glorious fourth wave, meaning more representation for women. This has not only affected the world of politics and law, it has also affected the box office.

Filmmakers are either remaking beloved classics with all-female casts or they’re casting women into roles predominantly ruled by men. Some of the biggest examples are Ghostbusters (2016) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Additionally, an all-female remake of Ocean’s Eleven (2001) will be released this year and Steven Spielberg has even mused about casting a female Indiana Jones.

Female Remakes

Image via Indie Wire

Some people are excited about these changes, some not so much. Obviously, there are benefits and drawbacks to these remakes. Without definitively taking a side, let’s examine some of them.

Pro: Diversity

Hollywood isn’t exactly a completely male-dominated industry, but there could obviously be more representation for women. When directors create movies with increased emphasis on strong female leads rather than on male stars, it shows Hollywood’s commitment to change. And, in the case of Ghostbusters, casting a strong woman of color, Leslie Jones, as one of the leads is a giant step forward for diversity.

Female Remakes

Image via Chicago Sun Times

Diversity may not always be good, but it does bring new faces to old movies, which refreshes franchises and reignites interest. The old generation could share something of theirs with the new generation.

It also provides disadvantaged groups with a chance to see someone who looks like them on-screen. While you may not think that’s super vital for the film industry, many would love to see more of this diversity. Just look at the popularity of Black Panther (2018).

Con: Poor Story Line

One possible detriment to remakes is a poor story line. This effect isn’t confined to female-oriented remakes — it is a characteristic of many well-intentioned remakes and sequels. For example, The Planet of the Apes (2001) had high expectations that it would live up to its 1968 original. Despite spectacular makeup effects, its story line failed miserably.

Female Remakes

Image via MovieBoozer

There’s an argument to be made that when you remake old movies with females, that becomes your story line. Focus on the actual story that everyone is expecting decreases and emphasis on the fact that the lead is a woman increases, something you most likely wouldn’t focus on if the lead was a male. And while it is a step toward diversity, it isn’t exactly an exciting plot line.

Pro: New Role Models

Boys and men have numerous role models to turn to in the cinematic world, but those numbers dwindle significantly when little girls and women look for female role models in Hollywood. While there are a few notable examples — Ripley, Black Widow, Maggie Fitzgerald (Million Dollar Baby (2004)), G.I. Jane — they hardly hold a candle to the dozens and dozens of male leads.

female remakes

image via Daily Mail

With this new influx of female leads, little girls have even more women to look up to. Women have more female leads they can try to emulate and use as motivation. These new female leads show that girls can do anything boys can do, something every little girl should be told.

Con: Can’t Separate It from the Original

One thing about remakes — they can have a big effect on the original movie. For example, you may associate the remake Red Dawn (2012) with the 1984 original. While you understand the differences between the movies, you still have a hard time seeing certain characters in certain roles, especially if you saw one before the other.

Female Remakes

Image via Reel Rundown

The same thing happens if you recast a movie with a strong female lead or with an all-female cast. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you might have a hard time watching the original without thinking of a certain character in the remake or vice versa. This could essentially ruin the original movie, the remake, or both for you.

Pro: Refreshing Popular Movies

While I personally have my reservations against remakes and sequels, I know they’re still very popular. When movies are remade, people enjoy the nostalgia and the memories they bring. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) came out in theaters, there was a revival that included not only those who’d worshipped the franchise since the beginning, but also new fans.

Female Remakes

Image via Quirk Books

With more movies being remade with all-female casts or with strong female leads, people will get to relive their favorite movies all over again. It will generate enthusiasm in the film world and rejuvenate old fandoms, bringing in younger people and creating happy communities.

Con: Fandom Fighting

However, remaking an old movie or adding sequels could be viewed as tainting the original and produce the opposite effect. Kind of like how franchise prequels affect how you view the original — such as The Godfather II (1974) — these new remakes and sequels could affect how people see the original movies. While it could generate a sense of togetherness in the fandom, it could also create friction.

Female Remakes

Image via Film Forum

Having fighting within a fandom is never productive and it ruins the franchise and experience for everyone else. If old movies are remade with female leads, this kind of infighting could occur.

Final Thoughts

Female Remakes

Image via Variety

There are good aspects and bad aspects of remaking old films with all-female casts or with female leads. Some of the benefits are a rejuvenated franchise, more role models for women, and more diversity in a predominantly male Hollywood. However, some of the drawbacks are that it can create fighting within fandoms, taint the original, and the plot lines could be weak.

Whatever side you’re on, just know that there will be more of them. Hollywood loves two things: voicing its opinions and creating sequels and remakes.

Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on all-female remakes/sequels or remakes/sequels with female leads? Comment down below!

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Lulu Mendl May 1, 2018 - 7:07 pm

There’s a great quote by Rosamund Pike that perfectly explains my conflict with all-female remakes, and it’s this: “Why should women get sloppy seconds?” If you’re going to make a really good feminist movie, don’t just take a film with a formerly all-male cast, slap in a bunch of women, and call that good enough. There’s a certain stigma associated with remakes as it is; we don’t need that stigma to taint all-female cast movies. And why does every all-female cast movie have to be a remake of an all-male cast movie? What we need are original storylines with original characters, or at least things that the audience hasn’t already seen and adored in a different form (with differently-gendered actors). Black Panther with its 99% POC cast performed well because it was thoughtfully written, acted, and directed, but also because it told a story that felt fresh and original to audiences, something they hadn’t seen before story-wise. One could also apply this to the movie Bridesmaids, which also performed excellently at the box office and was even nominated for 2 Academy Awards. Both of these films tried to experiment and present something fresh and decent to moviegoers, instead of just repeating things that worked before. Hollywood keeps trying to do the same thing over and over, thinking that will ensure profits and success, but more often than not it is the experimental and unique works that fare better than remakes. We shouldn’t give women the “sloppy seconds”, even though it’s more secure than making a whole new meal from scratch. I wish Hollywood knew that experimenting and presenting fresh, even risky ideas will bring more success–in both monetary gain and in social justice–than circling old ideas back around and shoving our marginalized groups into them, calling that decent representation.

Sorry for my mini-rant. It probably makes no sense at all. But your articles on here always get my opinions going for some reason…

moviewarden April 14, 2018 - 4:57 pm

I didn’t particularly like this film

coolcomix0221 April 13, 2018 - 12:01 pm

With “Ghostbusters: Answer The Call” (which is what we should call the particular 2016 film), I can understand the hatred that it gets. Ghostbusters fans were patiently waiting for the proper follow-up to Ghostbusters II, but it never got past pre-production. Scripts were constantly getting re-written, Bill Murray kept waffling back-and-forth between having no interest in returning to having some interest and then the death nail came with the 2014 passing of Harold Ramis. Maybe if the 2016 film was promoted as a soft sequel or a spinoff, then maybe it wouldn’t have had the stigma attached to it.

In terms of promoting strong women in films, I’m all for original films that doesn’t have to show off females in action roles. Women are more than capable of promoting their strength in other fields. All you need is to develop an interesting story concept, find the woman (or women) capable of bringing the tale to life, make some marketing material that’ll make people interested in your particular yarn and watch the progression flow.

YariGarciaYA April 10, 2018 - 1:57 pm

As someone in her mid-30’s… can we stop the remakes? Just for a bit? I’m feeling old, like someone is just copying and pasting the movies I watched growing up (and not always doing them justice) :-(

Kali Tuttle April 10, 2018 - 8:30 pm

I’m down with this :P

knurly April 10, 2018 - 11:55 am

As a feminist these piss-poor all-female remakes feel insulting. You can’t thrust a different character (and when you change the gender, it does really become a different person with a different outlook on life) in the same role and expect them to be the same and have the same motivations like that’s going to work. That’s sloppy writing. Don’t just copy-paste different sexes or races into certain roles without adjusting the character to that person’s life story. Also, make diverse original characters in new stories. It’s different when it comes to Star Wars, for example, because they are supposed to be different people altogether. But with some of these remakes it’s like: let’s take the same person and just make them female. Yeah, that won’t change anything about them at all.


The Animation Commendation April 10, 2018 - 12:21 pm

I agree. In the end, males and females have different psychologies, biologies, and just different life experiences so that their characters should showcase these changes as well.

Having said that, my only exception is that I would love to see an all-female adaptation of 12 Angry Men as 12 Angry Women and see them keep the original dialogue, lol! That would be so fun!

Kali Tuttle April 10, 2018 - 1:55 pm

Exactly! It’s a shoddy attempt at equal representation for women in movies and I wish that Hollywood would start making more original movies with female leads

The Animation Commendation April 10, 2018 - 11:11 am

I personally won’t call the 4th wave of feminism “glorious” as I do have issues with it.

Having said that, I don’t know how I feel about all-female remakes. I think the biggest factor is the story; if they can keep the story great, it doesn’t matter who acts in the film to me.

I would love to see an all-female remake of 12 Angry Men as 12 Angry Women, but besides that, I’m generally not into gender-bending like making a female James Bond or a female Dr. Who or something like that.

Also, in films with all females, it would be nice to see characters that aren’t always “badass” and “fighting females”. I find those tropes kinda boring and redundant and they seem to push an idea that there’s only one way for a true “strong” woman to behave like. It would be nice to see diversity in the types of female characters and not only the fact that there are female characters.

Kali Tuttle April 10, 2018 - 11:53 am

You’ve said it all honestly. I think it would be great to see less of the “fighting females” trope as well, mostly because how many of us actually know women like that? No, women are strong in different ways and it doesn’t always show like a chick strangling five men with her bare hands.
And I’ve never thought about a female remake of 12 Angry Men! That would actually be one I would have high hopes for!

The Animation Commendation April 10, 2018 - 12:18 pm

Exactly! Like, from a purely biological POV, the average 17 y/o is not gonna be able to beat up the average guy in their 30s or 40s.

Yeah, I feel if there were more female characters using their inner female qualities and showing strength in a way that they know how, it would be more realistic and maybe even more empowering to women. That’s just my feelings.

Apparently, many places do have all-female versions of the 12 Angry Men in play form. I would just like to see a film adaptation, lol.

floatinggold April 10, 2018 - 11:01 am

I’m against it, either. Anything that is done mainly for the purpose of “diversity” is done for the wrong reasons. Like the author said – the plot is lost.

Olaf Lesniak April 10, 2018 - 9:33 am

Sure it’s all about execution, yet hardly is it done right. I am going with the cons as well. Supporting good causes doesn’t make it good. A good analogy would be a person who donates to charities, but belittles people who are around him.

Kali Tuttle April 10, 2018 - 11:50 am

That’s a good analogy. I personally lean toward cons, not because I hate more diversity, but because I’m not a huge fan of remakes and sequels.

Eva O'Reilly April 10, 2018 - 8:34 am

I’ll have to go with con. I’m all for diversity and stronger roles for women, but can’t they have their own stories? Remaking movies with women instead of men just seems like a feeble attempt to be diverse without really trying. I haven’t been bothered to watch the new Ghostbusters so can’t say whether it’s a good film or not, it was the concept itself that put me off.

Bladud Fleas April 10, 2018 - 8:47 am

Like vegetarian sausages, imitating the thing it’s not meant to be.

Eva O'Reilly April 10, 2018 - 8:48 am

Good one :-)

diablo578 April 10, 2018 - 11:49 am

That’s my opinion, too. If they wanted real diversity, they would write completely original roles for women!

Leo Lozada April 10, 2018 - 9:27 pm

I agree! They can’t just make them substitutes!

Nick Kush April 10, 2018 - 8:15 am

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