By Erin Fenner
The trailer doesn’t provide the full context for why Gretel (Gemma Arterton), in the upcoming movie Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, headbutts a grumpy fella (Peter Stormare) after he says, “I’m not going to have you telling me what to do.” I really hope the exchange between grumpy guy and Gretel escalates as rapidly as the trailer implies. As in: did she really just headbutt a person for asking not to be bossed around?
Meet Gretel: our strong female character.
Gretel is the sort of gal that will easily turn an absurd macho flick into the sort of film all genders could enjoy, right? She’s beautiful, but oh-so-deadly. Her bad-assed tone of voice and ability to slowly walk away from explosions means she will be more appealing to women than a Bond girl would.
Don’t worry though, gender-norm-sensitive-mainstream, she’s plenty palatable too. Even though she appears alongside her brother throughout most of the trailer – swaggering, punching and weapon-wielding – she still screams at the end of the trailer beckoning for Hansel to save her.
In what has become typical in fantasy/sci-fi action flicks; we are presented with the façade of a strong female character only to be reminded of their passivity and dependence upon their male counterpart.
Because this particular film isn’t out until next week, this characterization of Gretel may be off. She may be consistently strong. She may rescue Hansel. But, we know that we are being sold the movie with those aggravating and too-predictable gender expectations. Studios want to bring people into this movie with a women desperate to be saved, and they lazily present her strength to smooth over the sexist edges.