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Gareth Edwards Addresses Minor Female Roles in ‘Godzilla’, Says Early Draft Featured Prominent Heroine

by Charlie Schmidlin
May 22, 2014 3:30 PM
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With the mystery dissolved and a sequel to “Godzillaofficially in the works after last weekend’s $93 million haul, we can officially start to look at Gareth Edwards’ take on the monster as a jumping off point for new opponents and storylines hinted at already. However, as we discussed in our Best and Worst analysis of the film, strong characters—women especially—weren’t exactly its strongest aspect, but recently Edwards revealed that early iterations proved quite a different approach.

At a press conference in London, Edwards was asked (via The Telegraph) about the minor, sidelined roles that women play in the film—Juliette Binoche in her still affecting opening scenes, Elizabeth Olsen as wife to Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character, Sally Hawkins as assistant to Ken Watanabe—and he recounted how the film’s screenplay changed over time.

“We had a version of the screenplay that had a heroine in the film,” he said. “But you’ve got to pick a hero and we ended up with a male, and then everything supports the hero in some way.”

Edwards failed to say exactly which female character was reduced or cut entirely, instead bringing up “Alien” and “Aliens” as two of his favorite sci-fi films with strong women in lead roles. He also brought up an elusive solution for the future. “If we get lucky and there’s a sequel or anything like that, then I very much take [the criticism] on board.”

His statements were made before Legendary and Warner Bros. announced plans to move forward with a “Godzilla” sequel; however, Edwards’ statements never offer a real explanation for the poor female presence in his story, other than to point to a tradition of male heroes and place everyone else underneath those characters.

It may remain a troublesome point as Edwards enters into the next franchise installment with studio negotiations, but the director did jokingly point to one female role that has dominated the conversation. “This is probably a good time to point out that Godzilla is actually a female. At the last minute we changed [the title] from ‘Godzilla, Queen of the Monsters’…”

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  • MrObvious | May 30, 2014 11:51 AMReply


  • Joe B | May 27, 2014 2:51 AMReply

    Why are women in 2014 so insecure about how they're portrayed in movies and TV? Do we have to use a movie about a giant lizard who fights two giant insects as a litmus test for our culture's views on women?

  • Big Peach | May 25, 2014 7:16 AMReply

    A very minor nit to pick considering the larger narrative problems. Edwards shouldn't let criticism dictate his work. Hopefully a sequel will see more Godzilla, and less characters that exist as plot devices.

  • jawsnnn | May 23, 2014 7:49 AMReply

    Honest question: Did anyone apart from Indiewire even think of gender representation in the movie about a goddamn lizard monster? Seriously, I want to unsubscribe from this feed, but I do like their articles not written by complete asshats posing as feminists.

  • Jack | May 22, 2014 5:59 PMReply

    Is this some sort of weird joke? Who was complaining about "minor female roles" in Godzilla?

  • Flash Gordon | May 22, 2014 5:33 PMReply

    Oh, hell no!

  • osgpms | May 22, 2014 4:34 PMReply

    Maybe the sequel will reveal that a patriarchal worldview didn't allow people to discern godzilla's gender, and that "he" is in fact not a he, but a radical feminist female who will fight the dominant oppressor (Rodan or something), which the male characters want to have succeed because it will allow them to kill godzilla (feminism), but a lead female heroine will be behind the lines to pull the plug on these men making it impossible to be a woman in their world.

    Just kidding. I know that being a woman and a feminist are two totally different things.

  • jean vigo | May 22, 2014 4:05 PMReply

    Best performers? Godzilla and the "MUTOs" - one was a female, too.

  • BEF | May 22, 2014 3:47 PMReply

    Godzilla 2, True Detective 2 ... i.e. if something catches a cultural zeitgeist, we'll make a central character female the second go round ... obviously it'd never been as popular if they were the first go 'round.

  • Fong | May 22, 2014 5:09 PM

    So long as said women themselves aren't too big.

  • BEF | May 22, 2014 3:48 PM

    subtext ... women can be established after it's too big to fail.

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