Joe Wright Sticks it to Zack Snyder

by Melissa Silverstein
April 4, 2011 3:30 AM
16 Comments
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Joe Wright the director best known for British period dramas like Atonement and Pride and Prejudice opens his first action film Hanna starring Saorise Ronan as a teen assassin this Friday. He screened the film at Wondercon in San Francisco this past weekend and really stuck it to his colleague Zack Snyder for the gender politics in Sucker Punch. I find it very interesting and refreshing that the crap that Snyder tried to get away with in Sucker Punch is not flying and that others -- including male directors -- are calling him out.

When talking about Sucker Punch and its faux attempt at women's empowerment through short skirts and guns he said boldly: "that's bullshit."

I couldn't agree more. As I said last week, giving a young woman a gun does not make it a "women's empowerment film."

Now that gets to Hanna. Joe Wright gives us a young girl, Hanna, who was trained to kick serious ass by her father (Eric Bana) to protect herself. She is a brutal killing machine and doesn't think about who she is killing, she just does it because that's the only way for her to stay alive.

The thing is that she is a girl. She reminds me more of Hit Girl in Kick Ass than she does of the young women in Sucker Punch. She doesn't wear short skirts, doesn't gyrate to seduce men. She's not a prisoner in a brothel. There is a fine line (which sadly is getting lower and lower) where a girl is still a girl and not a sex object. Hanna is not a sex object.

What I think is so interesting about people's reaction to Sucker Punch is that I really believe that Snyder and Warner Brothers thought that this film would sell because on the surface it is a typical Hollywood movie where sex sells. They thought they could gets the guys in with the short skirts and cute girls and the girls in with the "women's empowerment" message.

But it didn't work. The fact that both men and women -- critics and audience members -- are repulsed by Sucker Punch is even more heartening.

Could it be that maybe we are turning a corner here? One can only hope.

‘Hanna’ Director Joe Wright Calls “Bullshit” On ‘Sucker Punch’s Faux Feminism (The Playlist)

WonderCon: 'Hanna' Director Joe Wright Slams 'Sucker Punch' for 'Bull----' Female Empowerment (Hollywood Reporter)


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More: Saorise Ronan

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16 Comments

  • Jim Crow | June 30, 2011 10:24 AMReply

    @Alice C.
    Nk one? I do, I did, and I had fun. I find it infuriating when something isn't to one persons taste, there arrogance in pronouncing it bad to all. Ever since when did being sexy become something shameful. Sure. It's not the end all be all, but it's a bit of fantasy and a bit of fun.

  • redzuan | June 28, 2011 6:46 AMReply

    shut the fuck up Joe Wright, Hanna sucks it's easily the worst movie of the year. you can talk the talk but you can't even crawl. Snyder is so much better than you. fucking douche

  • Brain | June 28, 2011 2:21 AMReply

    Sucker Punch was an awesome movie. It's only failing was the "PG-13" rating (which will be fixed with the Blue Ray release, so I hear). The visuals were unmatched, the story (and "sucker punch" ending) were fantastic.

    I have yet to actually meet anyone who didn't like it, though I know they are out there.

    But what do I know? I thought Hangover was mediocre and Thelma and Louise was "meh".

    Different drummers.

  • Lucy | June 28, 2011 1:28 AMReply

    Never heard of Hanna, I could not stop hearing of Sucker Punch.3 months later almost... The movie was a wank but so what? I am a lesbian, proud of it, I loved the mini skirts. I don't know if you guys realise but sex is a matter of objectifying, if you are making love to the Virgin Mary unless thats your fantasy it doesn't quite work. Yes you can say there are emotions and love involved however all that can also be ascribed to chemicals - as to the objectification in the media, I liked 300 better intellectually. But at least it had a plot.

  • Daisy | June 23, 2011 12:56 PMReply

    The best review of "Sucker Punch" came from the LA Tines which said it very plainly....When you go to a Zack Snyder movie, it's like going to an amusement park....You pay the money, go to the roller coaster,strap yourself in, and enjoy the ride!!!!...And most of us do!!!!!Don't try to be a pseudo intellectual and downgrade something that you don't happen to like.........The head of production design on the movie,
    who worked for Speilberg and Cameron for over 15+years said it's nice to see that we have people like Zack in the mix,directing for the future.....He's very good!!!.....And what did Joe Wright ever do that could begin to compare with "The 300"?......And he wouldn't
    attempt "The Watchmen" since there were three quitters before Snyder made it!!!!!......Let's stop Global Whining....I go to the movies to enjoy myself......and
    Snyder does that for me.....Thanks, Daisy-Age 74-Irvine, CA...........

  • Truly Unlimited | May 24, 2011 4:11 AMReply

    May 2011 update... Just saw Hanna.

    One of the dumbest, most implausible movies ever.

    The characters are cardboard-cutouts with nothing
    that resembles human motivation.

    Typical "CIA cover-up" plot.

    The Hanna character is essentially a Female Killer-Caveman
    being raised in a frozen forest by a Ted Kaczynski clone.

    Her hair looks great despite having never taken a shower.
    She probably smells very bad.

  • Alice C | April 11, 2011 10:10 AMReply

    The reason Sucker Punch didn't work was because it was simply a crap film - pure and simple. There was no story, there was nothing but one middle-aged man's masturbatory fantasy - and no one wants to see that on the big screen. No one.

  • Jean | April 10, 2011 6:56 AMReply

    @ claire-there is a mjor difference between how men and women are shown on screen. if you know anything about the "male gaze" which is a term to describe how women are dipicted on screen then you'd understand.

    in the film world 99.9% of women and women who are meant to be heroes are dpiected sexually-the camera lingers on their physiques-very different to how men are dipicted, not all male heroes get half naked/wear tight revealing clothing or indeed have what would be considered great physiques. Also with women on screen thier sexyness is central to their portrayal as there seems to be little else to their personalities and character (like with the girls in sucker punch) different to say bruce willis or hugh jackman in wolverine where their sexyness is not even hinted on and their characters are developed more outside as to how "sexy" the audience would see them (which, given that hollywood is concerend with caucasian young males which it assumes are all heterosexual is not that surprising)

    just because a man might take his shirt off in a scene does not make it the same as a half naked women-just as there are many sexually suggestive scenes in films with women who are fully clothed. half naked male heroes are usually shown in the light of embodying what "manlyness is" (which is not as prominent these days ) along with other attributes-female characters are often over sexualised because it seems there is a belief that no audience member (read-male and heterosexual) would be interested in a women unless they find her sexually pleasing hense most female characters in films prominent feature is how sexy there are-whether they have actual personalities is optional.

    hense young girls get the constant message that the only worth and power they can attain is from being sexually pleasing to others. hense the great big effing difference between half naked men and women on screen!

  • Scott Mendelson | April 6, 2011 11:02 AMReply

    Of course that's true. But, and I know I whine about this a lot, aren't we doing a disservice by holding female characters to some kind of higher standard? We don't blast 'hot and sexy' male action characters, nor do we demand that those characters fit some kind of 'empowerment mold'.

    Good film or bad, Sucker Punch was never supposed to be empowering in a traditional sense, but rather a tragedy involving institutionalized sexism (and a commentary on how geek culture obnoxiously drools over their female icons). Hence, by nature, it has to include certain imagery in the course of its story (the pigtails, the short skirts, etc). Personally, I'd rather just celebrate the fact that two wildly different female-driven action pictures are coming out within two weeks of each other.

  • The Opinioness of the World | April 6, 2011 7:37 AMReply

    @Scott - To answer your question, the two are not equal. We don't exist in a vacuum; society contains a hierarchy of power with white male privilege at the top. While men certainly have to be attractive and physically fit in Hollywood films, men don't face the constant scrutiny of their appearance nor is their worth based on their beauty and thinness, the way it is for women. In myriad films, we see a variety of men in lead and supporting roles. Sadly we don't see the same variance in women in film. Women (within films and in reality) face a barrage of sexism, violence and objectification in the media.

  • Scott Mendelson | April 6, 2011 6:54 AMReply

    "I don’t think Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies or Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible movies were ever objectified."

    Bruce Willis spends the second half of Die Hard without a shirt. Cruise is spends most of Mission: Impossible 2 looking as 'sexy-cool' as humanly possible (black leather jacket, longer wavy hair, sunglasses, etc).

    300 had hundreds of ripped, sweaty, half-naked men hacking at each other with swords. I don't think anyone accused Snyder of objectifying Gerald Butler and company.

    Action film stars are often supposed to be 'sexy'. It's why Christian Bale plays Bruce Wayne instead of Paul Giamatti. Why is it okay to have male action heroes who appeal to prurient interests while kicking ass, but not for female action heroes to appeal to the same interests?

  • Allison | April 5, 2011 2:47 AMReply

    I don't think Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies or Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible movies were ever objectified.

    I think it's more likely that action heroines tend to be featured in tight fitting, revealing outfits. That is for the fanboys. Sucker Punch is a perfect example of this.

    I haven't seen Hanna, but at least in the trailers she's not wearing a skimpy outfit.

  • Julie Kerr | April 5, 2011 2:33 AMReply

    Dude! I was there! Joe Wright was at Wonder Con. A comic book convention in San Francisco. I heard him say all those awesome things!!! It was really cool!

    I wrote down some of the bad ass things he said. He said, "Feminism was supposed to change the world, not be a gimic." He said this in response to the Spice Girls, "girl empowerment", pop culture type faux-feminism that can show up.

    He also said, "Female empowerment is not about sex, it's about brains." Hells yeah!! It was awesome to hear a dude say this.

    I'm totally going to see Hanna. The clips they showed, looked bad ass and the soundtrack is The Chemical Brothers for the whole movie. I'm going for the soundtrack alone.

    Joe Wright also criticized the fact that Baby Doll in Sucker Punch had pigtails, which I never really thought of that. He talked about how "sexy" is getting younger and younger and how repulsive it is because he mentioned that Abecrombie and Fitch have come out with a push up bra for 8 year little girls. Yep. Puke worthy.

    Joe Wright was awesome! The actress who plays Hanna was there. She was very smart and really cool. I think this movie will rule.

    Joe Wright also said that he specifically wanted Hanna to have a feminist vibe and that's deliberately in the film. I'm so seeing Hanna on Friday!!!!

    Yay for Dude feminists!!! And Lady Feminists of course!!!!

  • The Opinioness of the World | April 5, 2011 1:12 AMReply

    @Claire - I hear what you're saying, particularly regarding double standards. People can make the argument that 'Sucker Punch' isn't sexist because most of it is happening inside a woman's mind. But it's problematic that Baby Doll feels the need to escape from a sexist, rape-filled reality to a sexist, rape-filled brothel. Also, women (and female characters) can transmit misogynistic messages too. 'Sucker Punch' attempts to pander to both women and men but through its objectification and infantilization of women shows that it's truly a disgusting piece of trash that doesn't respect its audience.

  • Claire | April 4, 2011 11:14 AMReply

    Unbelievable that you have such a double standard .So it's okay to give a man a gun and have him on screen semi clad with his muscles showing and be a hero? Isn't the world that the lead charcter in Suckerpunch is in is her own mind, she is actually not "gyrating" to save her life...it's all in her mind so she can deal with the reality of her situation. A young girl who kills indiscriminately and doesn't think about who she kills is far more acceptable and easy for you to digest because thats the way she's been trained by her farher? Thats bullshit.

  • Tara | April 4, 2011 5:30 AMReply

    "Hanna" looks really really good! I rarely go to see a film opening night, but I plan on going next Friday.

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