A sexy contemporary take on “Oliver Twist”. A new “Van Helsing” where the first name is short for Vanessa. A certain movie about a group of women who feel good when they bust the spirits of dead folk. Hollywood has hit onto a new trend, an evolution on the existing preoccupation with rebooting existing properties: the gender-swapped remake is here to stay, so we better just get used to it.
Inspired by the upcoming “Ocean’s Eight,” which takes Steven Soderbergh’s star-studded crime capers as a template for an ensemble heist flick featuring the likes of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway, we racked our brains to come up with more movies that not only could do with another go around, but might also benefit from a more feminine point of view.
11. The Expendables
Sylvester Stallone’s unlikely action franchise — a chance for the red-blooded action stars of the ’80s and beyond to team up and appear in something that won’t go straight-to-VOD — isn’t the pinnacle of cinema. But it is undeniably exciting to see the likes of Sly, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li all on the screen at one time. Despite steadily mixed reviews, the three (so far) movies have been box office hits, and rumors abound about various spin-offs, including an all-female “Expendables” lineup.
“The Expenda-Belles” — hopefully a placeholder title — was courting Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz and Milla Jovovich to form the core of the ensemble. More recent comments from Stallone suggest the project is dead in the water, which would be a real waste. That initial casting list is a bit off (Diaz’s action credentials are debatable; Streep’s are downright certifiable), but “Resident Evil” lead Jovovich is inspired. Perhaps add “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” star Michelle Yeoh, MMA star Gina Carano and original Sarah Connor herself, Linda Hamilton, and you have the beginnings of something truly special.
10. Escape From New York
For fans of John Carpenter’s singular, anarchic and effortlessly cool 1981 movie, the idea of remaking “Escape From New York” seems as beyond the pale as… well, remaking “Ghostbusters.” That hasn’t stopped several people from trying, however, with the closest attempt being a version with Len Wiseman (“Live Free or Die Hard”) attached to direct and Gerard Butler handed the unenviable task of filling Kurt Russell’s boots as the platonic ideal of the anti-hero, Snake Plissken.
The notion of recasting Snake is almost as galling as the remake itself. Whilst some might angle for Russell to make a return to the role, in light of his late-era Tarantino-born career resurgence, perhaps the way to avoid choking on that particular poisoned chalice is some real out-there casting. Instead of trying to find the modern-day Kurt Russell, picture Emily Blunt — circa “Edge of Tomorrow” or “Sicario” not “The Devil Wears Prada” — in the eyepatch, military boots and black tank top.
Everything that’s been reported about Peter Parker’s formal introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been mighty encouraging. Tom Holland seemed a natural in the tights during his “Captain America: Civil War” appearance, and both cast and crew of the forthcoming “Spider-Man: Homecoming” have given a lot for fans to be excited about. While a young, brazen, actually-teenaged webhead is something audiences have still not seen on the big screen, this will be the third time in fourteen years that the franchise has been rebooted. Maybe give something totally different a chance?
How about adapting “Spider-Gwen,” Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi’s surprise-hit comic series! In an alternate reality, it was not Peter Parker, but girlfriend Gwen Stacy who is bitten by a radioactive spider, a change which leads to some (at times drastic) shifts from the Marvel Universe readers are used to. Gwen’s a very distinct character from Peter, and more women superheroes on screen can only be a good thing.
8. James Bond
With “The Night Manager” director Susanne Bier reportedly on the shortlist for the next film, and Daniel Craig saying things like he’d rather “slit his wrists” than return to the role that made him a household name, perhaps it’s time for EON to try something truly radical with the next James Bond film. Bond is a character associated with a sort of old-school idea of masculinity, so who’s to say Jane Bond couldn’t do the same for the Strong Female Hero?
Whether they went the usual route of not addressing the recasting, or perhaps gesturing to the fan theory that 007’s codename is one shared between various different agents, there would be no shortage of actresses lining up to get a crack as the globe-trotting, womanizing secret agent. Gillian Anderson has thrown her hat into the ring as being interested in the part, which is an offer that may be too good to refuse.
7. Die Hard
What with Bruce Willis now being a sexagenarian, Hollywood producers have been scrambling to find a new way to continue the adventures of John McClane, the NYPD detective cursed to never have a vacation that doesn’t involve having to foil a terrorist plot. Word on the street is a prequel might be in the works. An idea which somewhat flies in the face of the original “Die Hard”’s premise; namely, that this is just a regular cop having a really bad day, in stark contrast to the era’s musclebound superhero action stars.
Again, rather than dipping into the pool of young male talent and attempt to find somebody with the same furrowed Willis brow, and who also happens to look good in a tank-top, it might be fruitful to change things up. Holly McClane comes to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to visit her estranged husband John Gennero, only for his office building to be occupied by a group of fashionable criminals led by the charismatic Hannah Gruber… and she has trouble convincing the local police force that a lady cop is handling the situation.
6. Conan The Barbarian
He still mentions it from time to time, but the chance of former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to the role of Conan of Cimmeria in his twilight years seems somewhat unlikely at this point. You may even have forgotten that a younger actor played the Barbarian in the time Arnie was away, with new Aquaman Jason Momoa wearing the loincloth for the poorly-received 2011 reboot of the franchise.
Now technically, there is a gender-swapped Conan character in existence… after a fashion. Brigitte Nielsen played “Red Sonja,” the female barbarian also based on a Robert E. Howard creation, in a movie that featured Schwarzenegger in a supporting role that could not be called Conan for complicated legal reasons. There are similarities between Sonja and Conan, but she’s never quite been allowed to be the stoic, bloodthirsty pillager that her male counterpart is. The time is right for a Queen Conan.
Speaking of fantasy flicks, the entire genre is sorely lacking in female heroes on the big screen. The “Highlander“ franchise is another in which women stars are few and far between, discounting minor characters and romantic interests. It’s also a series which becomes all the more unwieldy with each new installment, as movies, TV shows and a one-off anime movie have made the lore incredibly complex.
This is all unnecessary, of course, since the core concept of “Highlander” is genius in its simplicity. Immortal warriors go around beheading each other in pursuit of being the only “one” left, at which point they will be endowed with unimaginable power. Rather than rebooting it as a tediously faithful adaptation of the original, a “Highlander” film with an all-female cast of immortals hunting each other down would have something of a “Kill Bill” vibe, except the DIVAs are trying to off each other using supernatural abilities, along with swords.
4. The Warriors
Walter Hill’s 1979 cult hit has already been tampered with since its release — Rockstar’s 2005 video game tie-in expanded the backstory, Hill himself presided over a director’s cut for DVD which added comic book-style still frame interludes, and the movie itself was a rather loose adaptation of Sol Yurick’s novel — so what could one more reboot hurt? Inspired by the Greek myth of Anabasis, “The Warriors” told the story of the titular New York gang trying to get home after a botched attempt to unite the city’s warring mobs in peace, with our heroes framed for the murder of the charismatic spokesman looking to do the uniting.
Cue multiple run-ins with colorful, themed gangs including the Hi-Hats (a gaggle of violent, SoHo-based mimes) and the iconic Baseball Furies (whose combination of face paint and wooden bats proved remarkably ineffectual, if cool). The original featured one — just one! — all-female gang, The Lizzies, who use their feminine wiles to try and get the better of the boys. Apart from Warriors leader Swan’s token love interest and Lynne Thigpen as a DJ, they’re the only women in the movie. Isn’t it time to go the opposite direction entirely?
3. Fight Club
David Fincher’s provocative adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s cult novel is more than likely in the Blu-Ray collections of every man of a certain age. Many of them will have had a poster in their dorm room at college. Some may have even briefly entertained the idea that starting their own fight club was a good idea. As a critique on the state of masculinity in a modern, materialistic society which does not indulge their lizard brain instincts, it remains highly regarded.
Bearing that in mind, take Edward Norton and Brad Pitt out of the cast, and replace them with Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron (the latter in her Furiosa mode, only more unhinged, as Talia Durden). Without having to change all that much else, the female “Fight Club” would give Nicolas Winding Refn’s “The Neon Demon” a run for its money as a taboo-busting, hallucinatory and vicious depiction of beauty, youth and jealousy. And being punched in the face.
2. Logan’s Run
“The Dark Knight“ star Maggie Gyllenhaal gave an interview where she outlined the difficulties of being a woman of a certain age in Hollywood. “I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55,” she said. “It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.” The topic of ageism in Hollywood, especially for female actors, is an oft-discussed one, but it’s rarely addressed on-screen.
In that context, the premise of “Logan’s Run” seems perfect for a gender-swapped remake. After all, it concerns a utopian future society which turns out to be built on the thoroughly dystopian foundations of resource scarcity, remedied by killing the populace off as soon as they hit the age of 30. Subbing out Michael York (better known as Basil Exposition from the”“Austin Powers” movies) for a female lead, and there’s a remake worth seeing.
For the most part, this list has focused on the growing trend of gender-swapping classic male-starring movies. Which isn’t to suggest Hollywood isn’t considering equal opportunities for producing remakes which trade female stars for their more testosterone-bound counterparts. Recently announced was a new take on Ron Howard’s 1980s rom-com “Splash,” which originally starred Tom Hanks as a man who falls in love with a mermaid, played by Daryl Hannah. The remake, meanwhile, will turn that on its head, as Jillian Bell (human) gets the hots for Channing Tatum (a merman).
Geek-friendly Tatum seems game for mostly anything, and if “Splash” is a surprise hit, perhaps he might consider similar female-to-male reboots. Why not court the “Magic Mike” crowd with a new adaptation of French sci-fi comic “Barbarella,” originally adapted for the screen in the Jane Fonda-starring camp classic? Stick Tatum in the same skimpy silver costumes Fonda cruised the galaxy around in, put some winks to the audience in the script, and it would just about make up for the fate the “21 Jump Street”/”Men In Black” crossover seems destined for.
Which movies do you think would benefit from a liberal application of Rule 63? Let us know in the comments!
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