Elizabeth Banks: Steven Spielberg has ‘never made a movie with a female lead’

Women In Film 2017 Crystal and Lucy Awards - Arrivals

Here are some photos of Elizabeth Banks at the 2017 Women In Film Crystal and Lucy Awards a few days ago. That hair, you guys. I love Banks and I think she’s a badass boss. BUT THE HAIR. I hope it’s for a movie and it’s not a case of “wouldn’t it be fun to have really big, blonde hair hair?” Anyway, Banks received an award at the Crystal and Lucy Awards for her work as director of the Pitch Perfect sequel, which made serious money. During her speech, she called out male directors for not telling stories about women. She name-checked arguably the most powerful director in Hollywood:

Elizabeth Banks delivered some hard truths about women and Hollywood on Wednesday, which included a knock for hallowed director Steven Spielberg. Accepting an award from non-profit group Women in Film, Banks expressed her frustration over the lack of female stories in the marketplace and the low number of women invited to tell those stories.

“I went to ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Jaws’ and every movie Steven Spielberg ever made, and by the way, he’s never made a movie with a female lead. Sorry, Steven. I don’t mean to call your ass out but it’s true,” Banks told the crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Actually, of the 30 feature films Spielberg has directed, one did feature a female protagonist. That was 1998’s “The Color Purple.” Someone in the audience pointed this out to Banks, and the star moved on. Her comments echo ones made by Juliette Binoche, who last year revealed she once confronted Spielberg about his lack of female leads.

Banks discussed how her sons are often exposed to empowering female stories like in Disney’s “Frozen,” and how they will see “Wonder Woman” when they’re old enough.

“Buy a f–king ticket to a movie with a woman, take them, give them the experience of seeing amazing women on film,” Banks encouraged of mothers.

[From The Wrap]

As everyone is eager to point out, Spielberg has made a handful of films over the years with female leads, like The Color Purple, The Sugarland Express and The BFG. And that’s it. Arguably three movies in almost 50 years. So, yeah, Spielberg is guilty of bringing a lot of sausage to the Hollywood party. So are many other directors. What do you think of Banks’ choice to call out Spielberg specifically? I’m sure there will be many who say that it’s not her place, or that she’s speaking out of turn. I tend to believe that she knows what she’s doing and she’s honestly trying to start the conversation.

Still, Black Twitter is dragging Banks because she forgot The Color Purple. That wasn’t the point of what she was saying, but I get the point you’re trying to make. Carry on.

Update: Elizabeth Banks has issued a statement. We’ll probably cover this again tomorrow!

MoMA Film Benefit Presented By Chanel -  A Tribute To Tom Hanks

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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107 Responses to “Elizabeth Banks: Steven Spielberg has ‘never made a movie with a female lead’”

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  1. Froggy says:

    I don’t understand how people with money have bad color and/or cheap extensions or wigs.

    • Kitten says:

      I actually really like the platinum blonde on her and I’m usually never a fan.

      That dress however is hideous.

      We need more female directors..why Wonder Woman was such a huge deal.

      • Elisa the I. says:

        +1 on everything you said.
        I finally saw WW today and I loved it! The cinema was sold out at 3 in the afternoon! I so hope it breaks records and they make a spin-off with the Amazons.

  2. Merritt says:

    So he made one film with a woman lead. That is hardly the gotcha that the people pointing it out seem to think. One film out of dozens is not something to brag about.

    • Kate says:

      No, it’s not enough and we know that a female director would not get away with making movies entirely centered on women BUT white women, including feminists, have a tendancy to dismiss anything that does not center around them and they need to be called out.

      • Sigh... says:

        Once again, WoC are being conveniently forgotten, ignored, or outright dismissed (“but it was made so long ago” – thus, actually strengthening his long history of few female leads) for “the greater good.”

      • Merritt says:

        It was one thing to point out the error. But people were turning it into a giant gotcha moment when it isn’t. As a WOC myself, I agree that white feminist can be dismissive, but in this situation it seems like a stretch.

    • detritus says:

      By my rough count via wiki, Spielberg is involved with over 120 movies. So with the estimate of 3 movies with a female lead during that time, he hits 2.5%. A whopping 2.5% of his movies have female leads.

    • AlmondMilk says:

      Actually, ‘Black Twitter,’ wasn’t as much all over Banks, but a writer named Anne Thompson on Twitter (think she’s with Indiewire) who in her eagerness to back up Banks, referred to ‘The Color Purple’ very dismissively and called it ‘a flop.’

      Considering it’s an all black critically acclaimed film (based on a literary masterpiece) which made 141 mil at the box office and earned 11 Oscar nods she was beyond wrong and quickly apologized for her mistake.

      Damage was done, as many wondered at her initial dismissiveness, seeming disdain and lack of basic film knowledge.

    • noway says:

      In fairness, Steven is probably not the best example for male chauvinism in Hollywood. Yes he has only made a few films with female leads, but some of his better films were more ensemble films or historic. He also has for the vast majority worked with women in prominent positions in film. Melissa Mathieson several times and producers Kathleen Kennedy started Amblin Entertainment with him.

      I know Elizabeth used him for the name value, but there are so many other more blatant chauvinistic directors. Plus I am sorry the Color Purple really does negate a lot of what she said. Not only did it have a female lead, but it gave us Oprah Winfrey along with amazing performances by a lot of people of color, not to mention based on a book written by a woman of color. To forget about it is kind of a big brain fart to say the least.

  3. Kate says:

    The color purple was essential to many black women. White women needs to stop… whatever is that they are doing. Seriously, it’s getting ridiculous.

    • JaneDoesWork says:

      Yes, it was. It was also released in 1985. 32 years ago. The man has made dozens of movies since then, and only two have featured a female lead.

      • Kate says:

        There was a way for her to highlight that without dismissing movies centered around women of color.

      • JaneDoesWork says:

        Fair enough, to be honest as someone who has seen that movie over a dozen times and adores it, I didn’t even remember that HE directed it. Why? because its 32 years old. I hear you though, and don’t blame you for feeling that thats what she did.

      • Kate says:

        Thank you @JaneDoesWork for understanding.

      • Liv says:

        We studied The Color Purple in my film class and I know the book features prominently in a lot literarure and social studies courses. Its also one of the few movies of the 80s to get occassional TV airing outside of AMC. If you forgot about it but managed to remember Jaws, that says something about you or film habits.

      • Hollz says:

        @Liv, That might be a geographic thing? I’ve never had a literature class or a film class talk about The Colour Purple, but three of my film courses have discussed Jaws.

    • slowsnow says:

      I don’t know if I understand what you’re saying but if you are saying white women complain when actually there are quite a few films with white women leads I tend to agree.
      I don’t know why women are so keen to see Wonder Woman as some sort of achievement – because it’s the superhero market? Katniss was far more important for my kids’ generation than Thor.
      I just saw an interview w/ Kidman about the awful Big Little Lies and thought the same thing. (I’m a white woman myself). There are more and more (but they are not the majority, far from it) films and series that get press and attention and audiences with women: Hunger Games, Elle, The Good Wife, Jane Austen films, Happy Valley (BBC), Girls, Suffragettes, Divergent, A Bigger Splash, the list goes on and on.
      Of course, it’s not the majority – but who wants to go mainstream?? Niche cultures affect mentalities much more than pop. We’re not in such a bad place as we think IMO.
      Black female leads, that’s a whole other subject. Kate Bigelow’s first (?) film Strange Days had a black female lead, Angela Bassett – I can’t even find it on Itunes.

      • Oriane says:

        Awww, Strange Days! I saw it as a young teen when it came out and I had such a crush on Angela Bassett’s character, smart and compassionate and a total badass! I wanted her and I wanted to be her! The memories! ^__^

        I sort of understand why Spielberg was called out, though… I think it’s important to see female leads in all kinds of movies, especially in silly blockbusters that filter into the wider popular culture – not just romantic comedies or female driven ‘weepy’ drama. The Hunger Games and WW are steps in the right direction imho, but we’re not there yet, I think… now if they could cast a similar movie with a WoC – a remake of Indiana Jones with Angela Bassett as the archeologist, perhaps?

    • aang says:

      or maybe like me they had no idea the color purple was a spielberg movie. not that the movie didn’t exist but that he directed it. as a person of color i am very comfortable saying that not everything is a “microagression”.

      • slowsnow says:

        Elizabeth Banks works in the movies, she has to know those things! It’s her job! If you’re a chef and don’t know that risotto is italian you’re in trouble!
        Then again, I am sure this quote may be part of a whole conversation and the context may be important as it usually happens here in CB. Things are extracted from big interviews.

      • QueenB says:

        If she didnt know that how could she say he never did it? Either do your research and not be a white feminist or be called out. If you dont know that thats fine but if you speaking in public you should know what you are talking about.
        Banks is fine with calling out Spielberg so she’ll surely be fine if someone else calls her out.

      • Liv says:

        “I went to ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Jaws’ and EVERY MOVIE STEVEN SPIELBERG EVER MADE, and by the way, he’s never made a movie with a female lead”

        Why is this woman presenting herself as an expert in his oeuvre if she doesnt know one of his most critically acclaimed films? And why did she not correct herself when the audience member chimed in? And while we are at it, how many movies, Tv shows or even short films headed by POC has SHE directed? Or is this demand for diversity only allowed to white women?

      • perplexed says:

        She’s in the age range where she should probably know he directed it.

      • lucy2 says:

        I myself either didn’t know or completely forgot he directed The Color Purple. It’s quite possible she did the same, which doesn’t mean she forgot about the Color Purple’s existence, but doesn’t connect him with that film in her head. I too think of him as Indiana Jones/ET/WW2 movies. But who knows.

        Whatever the case may be, the point that he rarely makes films about female characters is true, almost all of his films are about straight white males. It’s a shame that after the experience of the Color Purple, he didn’t seem to have an interest in branching out further.

      • Jeesie says:

        In my head I tend to go from Jaws to ET to Indy to Jurassic Park and then Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan and Lincoln and War Horse and so on. Classic family films and blockbusters and historical war films or biopics.

        I always forget he directed films like Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, The Colour Purple etc.

    • AustenGirl1975 says:

      Kate, when I saw The Color Purple in an African American Lit and Film class, I was appalled by Spielberg’s vision, which framed some of the most important female-driven aspects of the book from Mister’s perspective instead of the female characters’. Between his bungling of an important African American story (in my opinion) and the pervasive misogyny of Munich, I haven’t watched any of his movies since.

      But, I’m a white woman, and I can’t pretend to know your experience. Can you share what The Color Purple (film) means to you? In rejecting the white director’s interpretation of an important book, I don’t want to inadvertently give the impression that I’m dismissing the importance of the work or that it “doesn’t count” in some way, which is what I inferred you meant from your comment that “white women need to stop.” I’m open for dialogue and try to be a good listener. 🙂

      • Kate says:

        AustenGirl1975: Oh, the movie is far from perfect that’s for sure and to be honest, I often wonder what it would have looked like had it been directed by a black woman. That being said, it’s a movie that gave us the opportunity to be represented, to be seen. Our pain, our beauty, our triumph. I’m atheist but I know that the Color Purple taught my mom and my aunt that their spirituality did not have to be defined by men or even have anything to do with them.

      • AustenGirl1975 says:

        Thanks, Kate, for the insight. I’m a rape/incest survivor and saw the film through that specific lens, so I bristled at the privileging of Mister’s POV over the female characters’. Perhaps, I’ve equated that with Spielberg’s direction of the story about women of color. I can understand your anger at the omission of a movie that meant so much to you and your community, especially in terms of representation. I’m an atheist, too, but as a woman, I find your comment about your mom and aunt very affirming.

      • Liv says:

        “Framed some of the most important female-driven aspects of the book from Mister’s perspective instead of the female characters’”

        Can you give scenes that are specific examples of this. I studied this film and to my recollection it is told from Celie and sometimes Shugs perspectives

      • AustenGirl1975 says:

        Hi, Liv. I found the paper I wrote back in 2007 so that I could answer your question. Here are a few examples worth mentioning:

        1. The opening scene of the film has two sisters playing and running through a field of flowers, and the pregnancy of one of them is only evident when they emerge. This focus on sisters and innocence differs from the book, in which the opening letter details the violent horror of rape and incest that led to Celie’s pregnancy. The book provides a narrative space for the women to speak about their rapes, but the movie silences them. The book depicts the violence of the rape, but the movie depicts the violence of the resulting labor/birth. In doing so, it engages in the silent complicity of a society that won’t help rape and incest victims. In the movie, Mister’s rape of Celie is depicted more as her feelings of detachment and drudgery at a marital obligation, a perspective that supports Mister’s patriarchal right to her body; the book makes clear–through Celie’s own words–that the sex is violent and nonconsensual.

        2. In the movie, Mister and other men who perpetrate violence against women in the book are portrayed as comical buffoons instead of the vicious abusers they are. In fact, in Spielberg’s movie, Mister only threatens, but does not strike Celie. Mister’s attempted rape of Nettie on her way to school is portrayed as comical–from the tone to the score, to the bemused frustration of Mister after he was kicked in the groin–it’s more a scene of frustrated wooing than thwarted rape of a young girl.

        3. The most egregious reframing of Mister is perhaps the film makes him the hero who goes to Washington to find a way for Celie and Nettie to reunite. In the book, it was Shug.

        4. And, at the end of the movie, Mister (Albert) watches over the sisters uniting from afar in his field, like some benevolent patriarch. In the book, he is sewing on the porch with Celie, as they’d found a new peace with each other in domesticity.

        Sorry this is lengthy; I tried to summarize points from an essay I’d written years ago that focused on Walker’s use of triangulation to disrupt the patriarchy destabilize traditional relationships and Spielberg’s imposition of binary pairs, which strengthens patriarchal dominance in his interpretation. Some of these directly relate to your question about Mister’s POV, but others are about other significant changes Spielberg made. I can’t recall if the movie touched on Celie and Shug’s sexual relationship, but the omission of a lesbian love affair would also be a demerit.

      • noway says:

        In all honesty, I think the problem is more the fact that we have so few female directors. At least a good actress can steal a movie with the supporting role. If you aren’t even able to direct a movie you have no voice in movies at all, and females make up less than 10% of the directors guild.

        As you stated about the views from the Color Purple, I get your point. However, I think it makes sense that a man may understand more how to direct a movie from a man’s point of view. We just never see the woman’s point of view. This is why to me Wonder Woman is a triumph. A typical male oriented super power film with a woman lead and a woman director. I think all women should support it. Just as I think we should all support Shonda Rhimes shows. A woman of color with that kind of power in the entertainment world is amazing and unheard of. As over half of the population we are so far behind in all these career roles. I am cheering and supporting them all.

    • HK9 says:

      It was nominated for several Oscars,( an award for which I don’t believe Ms. Banks has yet been nominated)-it was a significant movie. It’s also significant that Spielberg has so few female leads since judging by the colour purple, he’d probably do a great job and chose not to.

    • BackstageBitchy says:

      I think it’s possible to have forgotten that Spielberg directed The Color Purple without dismissing the film itself. If you asked me anything about The Color Purple, I could have told you the plot, a lot of the actor’s names, that it was critically acclaimed and Oscar-nominated, that is was a seminal, ground-breaking film, that it was heart-breaking and beautiful and subtle and delicate. I would NOT have thought of it as a Spielberg film not remembered that he directed it.
      Not that it matters what I personally think, but I say that only to make the point that you can dismiss SPIELBERG as a very male-lead-centric director in general (is that 2.5% number accurate!? That’s awful.) without dismissing the movie The Color Purple.

  4. Freddy Spaghetti says:

    Christopher Nolan has never made a movie with a female lead. Neither has Paul Thomas Anderson. The list could go for ages.

    • slowsnow says:

      I think that’s her point.

      • Alexandria says:

        Yeah that’s her point. Spielberg is a billionaire director with an influential reach for the past 30 years of moviemaking. He is the epitome of Hollywood royalty. That’s why he was called out. What he does or doesn’t do in filmmaking has influence. In fact, calling Spielberg out openly is not advantageous for her. However, she shouldn’t have used the word never. That’s basically eclipsing a valid point she is trying to make, while unfortunately forgetting about a film with WOC at the same time. Point eclipsed.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Well said, Alexandria.

  5. Margo S. says:

    My husband is taking my 5 year old to see wonder woman on Saturday! I’m so excited for them. I saw it opening day. It’s important for my son’s to see female and male driven super hero films!

  6. nemera34 says:

    She was right about him.. but it would have been better to have listed a few more; then the focus would have been broader. The bottom line She was right

  7. Aims says:

    Girl, you don’t want to start that fight, or you might be seeing the unemployment line. He should have more female leads, but so should all the directions.

  8. ArchieGoodwin says:

    Never good to use specifics in cases like this, without doing very basic homework first at least.

    Michael Bay, for example, is a disaster for women. Why slag Spielberg?

    But really, 2 words- Roman Polanski.

    I like EB, but she needs to write that sincere apology asap.

    • Scarlet Vixen says:

      @ArchiGoodwin: I agree. If you can’t be bothered to do at least the most basic of homework before making accusations then your do yourself-and the point you’re attempting to make-a great disservice. While she had a good point (that not enough big-time male directors make films with female leads) she pretty much negated her own point by sounding like an idiot.

      I do agree with her, tho. As much as I love many, many of Spielberg’s films (I suppose I’m more of a John Williams [composer] fan) I really wish he used more female leads. This became glaringly obvious to me when I saw “Saving Private Ryan.” Not only are there no female characters, not a single woman even speaks the entire film. Yes, it’s a film about male soldiers during WWII. But, you have women on screen for about 90 seconds totalzzand they can’t even be heard??

    • Don't kill me I am French says:

      The worst is that Polanski wrote and/or directed some very good movies about women or with female leads

  9. hmmm says:

    I’m still pissed off that Star Wars didn’t have a single, female fighter pilot. Not ONE. Instead, we got a princess (albeit feisty). Every time I watch it, I still get pissed off. Some future.

    • Don't kill me I am French says:

      The new Star Wars movies have female leads

    • brincalhona says:

      Star Wars is not set in the future.

      • Betsy says:

        Your comment reminded me very much of the 30Rock scene where Jenna gets Star Wars and Star Trek confused and Liz Lemon yells, “Wars!”

    • hmmm says:

      Nitpick all you want about Star wars not being futuristic. There still weren’t female fighter pilots AT THE TIME, and there could have been. I thought that *at the time, and still think it*. Your points do not invalidate mine, which shows that even in a time of massive feminist consciousness the guys were really slow to catch up.

  10. lower-case deb says:

    otoh, i didn’t know he produced Pinky and the Brain! what a surprise (for me). i sort of knew he exec produced a lot of the tiny toons stuff (thanks obscure pub quiz!), but some how P&B tickled me pink!

    if boys want to make films about boys, then so be it. (rather than have boys like woody allen and his ilk make movies about girls)…

    if given the choice, i’d rather push for more women directors and more women producers moving up the ranks and have studios green light more movies with women as leads and not take 1 flop and say: okay that one flopped no more female leads forever!

    • slowsnow says:

      Agreed re: women directors. It’s the only reason why the Wonder Woman feminist phenomenon is understandable to me – the female director.

  11. Honey Bear says:

    BFG had a female lead. Not true

    • Algernon says:

      In a career spanning five decades, he has made half a dozen movies with female leads or co-leads (like Jurassic Park). So, strictly speaking, he has made movies with female leads. But he has *by a huge margin* not made movies with female leads. In the strictest sense, what EB said was wrong, but in spirit, she is right.

  12. justme says:

    I think Spielberg should make movies HE is interested in making. Personally I (as a woman now for 60 years) find movies (and novels for that matter) with male protagonists just as interesting and compelling as movies with female protagonists. In the golden age of Hollywood there were plenty of directors (like George Cukor for instance) who specialized in movies with females as the main characters. All that dropped off with the end of the studio system. Zillions of reasons why. It is what it is. Possibly now that women directors are finally being given the chance to show that they can make movies which make big bucks we will start seeing women as protagonists more frequently again. I’ll go to see them if they are interesting – not just because they have a female lead. When I’m watching a good movie or reading a good book, I don’t spend much time thinking about my own femaleness. I just get involved in the story. I know that’s not true of everyone. However I’ve never had difficulty identifying with a male character.

    • ST says:

      There have been numerous studies which show that women and girls will read books or watch movies with female or male leads, but boys and men have little interest in work with female leads. I don’t know the reason or reasons for this.

      • justme says:

        Well there you have part of the solution to the question of female protagonists. You do run the risk of losing half the population of viewers. Oddly though as I said there did USED to be plenty of movies with female leads. Molly Haskell many years ago (when the “New Hollywood was underway with Spielberg, Scorcese and Coppola in the lead) wrote a fascinating book called: From Reverence to Rape. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of women on film.

      • Algernon says:

        It’s called the empathy gap and it goes beyond just women. Minorities can identify with white leads, but white audiences can’t (equally) identify with minority leads.

        The empathy gap has real, devastating effects in the real world, and many sociologists agree that a big step in creating a more sympathetic and understanding world is teaching people to identify with others through storytelling. Men rooting on Wonder Woman and Rey, white people caring about Black Panther, or Poe Dameron, or Finn, goes a long way to teaching people how to relate to others who aren’t part of their “tribe”.

        Justme, you have been *conditioned* by the stories you consume to identify with male protagonists. You have been taught to leave your femininity at the door, but (white) men receive no such lesson. Any one filmmaker should get to make the movies they want, we shouldn’t be dictating to individuals what to do, but in a broader sense, the film industry must start allowing more stories to be told about different protagonists so that we can begin unteaching those lessons. I’m excited for a generation of boys growing up with Rey, Finn, and Poe, Moana, Katiness, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and a wide array of diverse heroes and protagonists. It can only help lead to a more understanding future.

        ETA: Molly Haskell’s book is *great* and I believe when film historians look back on the 1970’s-now era in American film, it won’t be a kind judgment. This will be seen as an era of repression and suppression, and they’ll wonder what the F was wrong with us.

      • justme says:

        @Algernon I’m glad I was *conditioned* then because I enjoy what I enjoy (very much). And I’m glad I’m too old to worry about it.

    • pinetree13 says:

      justme, I’m sad that you blew off Algernon’s response like that. We are all conditioned in different ways and it’s not an insult. The empathy gap is real and I think it’s sad if we ever stop examining our views and growing as a person.

      • Justme says:

        I have empathy. But I don’t like to politicize art and the pleasure it gives me. I actually watch many movies made outside the US – from Africa, Asia, the Middle East. If they tell compelling stories with good characters that’s all I need to find them enjoyable or moving. If they try to whack me over the head with politics to the detriment of the character and story (and those films rarely do) I am less inclined to view them positively. But I am glad I grew up before this intense politicization of everything that I see around me. I developed my own taste and interests without checking I find it was ok according to race gender class etc. So I said so. I did not enjoy being lectured on my horrid *conditioning*.

  13. Am I the only one who has absolutely no desire to see Wonder Woman? I mean yay woman heros, but I’m not a fan of superhero movies period. They are all the same story but with a different costume.

    • slowsnow says:

      Same thing here. I have no interested and as I said above I don’t think it’s a great achievement to enter the superhero mainstream market because those films are silly. Moreover, I do have a problem with this idea of identification. As justme said above, I have no trouble either identifying with a male character. I do need varied stories, of course and I don’t agree with justme in the sense that I still feel the need to have a female, black, transgender, bisexual narrative etc.
      When it comes to telling stories, however, I do find it important that the writing and directing go to women, even of they are telling boy stories, XXth Century women is about women from a male perspective. Fish Tank is about a girl and a man from a woman’s perspective. THAT I find really awesome.
      However, certain experiences and cultures need to be told in their own voice too: rape, black lives, asian culture etc.

      • Algernon says:

        Totally cool if you don’t want to see it, but for the millions of women and girls who do enjoy superhero movies, it’s awesome to *finally* have a superheroine get her own movie. You may think it’s a silly genre, but these movies have enormous cultural influence and as I mentioned above, this kind of thing is a step toward narrowing the empathy gap. Skip it if you want, but don’t wish it away from the rest of us just because it isn’t your thing.

    • Grant says:


      I’m not really a fan of superhero movies myself but I loved it. WW is very different from most of the other comic book movies.

      • slowsnow says:

        I will end up having to watch it with the kids so I’m glad it’s not boring as the others 😉

      • lucy2 says:

        Me too.
        I loved the Dark Knight trilogy, but beyond that find superhero films fairly boring and formulaic. Too much CGi, explosions, etc.

        I loved Wonder Woman. It definitely is a superhero film, but it was also a lot more than that. There’s a battle scene early in the film, and while watching I wondered how empowered I would have felt as a young girl to see women like that, and I started crying.
        But not all movies are for all people and it’s perfectly OK to not be interested in this one.

    • detritus says:

      A lot of us view it as an achievement because Wonder Woman was a cornerstone to our childhoods, and Wonder Woman holds a special place in our hearts for showing a bad ass lady superhero when everyone else was male. As a fantasy and comic book fan, there is a lot of chavinism a lot of anti woman attitude, and very few capable women. Wonder Woman was mostly free of that and gave my the chance to see women can be strong and heroic too, not just spiderman and superman and Dick Tracy etc.

      Please don’t denigrate what it means to those of us who are interested in those topics, just because its a male dominated field, or you dont care. This in fact makes it MORE important.

      The reason for this is because while many women and PoC identify with characters of a variety of backgrounds, young boys and men do not. The reason for this is because women and PoC have to. There is no real other option for women or PoC, as you can see Spielberg has done 2.5% of his movies with a female lead. I wouldn’t be shocked if this dropped further for PoC. So because most men are not forced to identify with other backgrounds, they do not. They have no practice so they cannot.

      This movie isn’t just for you. It’s a milestone because it hits that male dominated market or super heros and comic books. It exposes boys and men to female super heros and leads, which is almost as important as showing women and girls a super hero they can relate to.

      • Slowsnow says:

        My male kids identified – or discussed – Katnss’s choices without it ever being a thing that she was female. My son read divergent and mentioned the bit where her trousers don’t fit because (the female character Trish) is getting more muscled. There was no issue whatsoever. I am glad for you that you finally have your female hero but please allow me to discuss a system of identification for kids that I find stale: which means that I believe that we have gone through a period where we needed these female heroes. I don’t think it’s the case anymore (I watched several badass women in the cinema as leads and now my kids don’t even see a difference unless it’s a specific female narrative like 13 reasons). Now we need PoC heroes so that one day it will no longer make a difference unless we are talking about a specific culture.
        I did tell my kids that in the USA things are now different and that WW was becoming a feminist icon and I understand why. I don’t think we are in the same context everywhere.

      • Sophia's Side Eye says:

        Thank you for your post, detritus! Totally agree.

        Are you implying that you live in a post sexist world, slowsnow? Well lucky you, but here in the US they’re doing everything in their power to take our rights away. I don’t know where you live, and I’m glad you and your kids have it well, truly. I get that it’s just movies but media is SO pervasive in our lives it’s crazy to deny it’s power to affect people. It’s a way we get to know each other’s stories so we can learn to love each other’s differences. We’re not there yet, not even close. The fact that we’re not there yet is why I come to this site every day. I love that women come here from all walks of life and different places. I want to know others stories and that others care because I do.

        I’m not trying to attack you, slowsnow, I guess I just felt your comment to detritus was extremely dismissive.

      • slowsnow says:

        @Sophia’s Side Eye @Detritus
        As usual I love coming to this website and I thought about this exchange all evening. Re-reading my comment does feel a bit condescending and thanks for pointing that out @Sophia’s Side Eye. Sorry @Detritus – I love reading your comments here.
        This is a long conversation and no, I live in the UK which is not a post sexist world. But we are not in a situation as horrible as in the USA where some guys decide it’s now impossible to have contraception if you’re not rich so I understand the need in certain areas for a strong feminist icon.
        Nevertheless, I do find it strange the identification process re: films and characters and that’s what I have been trying to discuss to no avail.
        I don’t think character identification is an interesting way to read art, that’s all. I think narratives are important and who tells them. Therefore I feel that the female white narrative is pretty much out there and for WoC we’re not there yet.
        And it’s not because I find superhoero movies silly that I find people who like them silly: I’m married to a guy qho enjoys them too and I love him to death.

      • detritus says:

        No worries ladies, different opinions make the world go round. One of the things around here is, no matter how much we disagree on different nuances, we are all actually pulling in the same direction.

        And Slowsnow, thats excellent, it means you are parenting in a thoughtful and smart way. It means your boys will be more empathetic and respectful citizens, but look around, are you not the exception?

        The very fact that you are here, on Celebitchy, means your sons will be raised with a feminist mother. I very much enjoy your comments too, and its because you are a strong woman, with strong beliefs about equality. This means that your children are going to be more likely to identify with female characters in the first place. Just by dint of having you help them grow up, and exposing them to your belief system and preferences. If your friends, and the friends of your children are like this too, thats even more hopeful.

        My issue is more, Its dangerous to assume that you represent the masses. You are one statistical point, and feminism is unfortunately not the default attitude.
        There were people who hated on Wonder Woman because it was female led and produced, just like Ghostbusters. Its success, critically and financially, is one more point toward female equality, just as your boys seeing Katniss and finding her relatable. Its a small step, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect everyone.

        And, I agree. We definitely need more PoC in all roles, but in this case, Wonder Woman is a WoC, so she hits that as well.

  14. Addison says:


  15. Marianne says:

    I dont get what the point is exactly by calling him out. If he’s being championed as some feminist director, then sure. But randomly pointing out it, what exactly does that prove? Are you then gonna talk about all the directors that havent made movies with prominent POC roles or LGBT roles?

  16. okay says:

    Her own movies have been lily white so who isn’t representing real society here? People who live in snow white houses should not throw stones.

    • Kate says:


    • smcollins says:

      To be fair, the Pitch Perfect movies (she produced both, directed one) have a pretty diverse female cast.

    • aenflex says:

      I don’t fully understand your comment. It seems to imply that because this woman is white, she shouldn’t speak about what she feels is unjust or sexist? So, are people of color the only group from which it is acceptable to hear complaints about sexism?
      I wouldn’t dream of saying what you did about any color of person. No one chooses the color they are born with.

    • lucy2 says:

      According to imdb, she’s only directed one full length feature which had an existing (fairly diverse) cast. She has two other films lined up to direct, neither of which has the casts announced yet. She’s produced a few tv shows which have diverse casts. I think it’s way too early in her producing/directing career to see how inclusive her casting is. I hope she does it well. If not, then we should certainly call her out on it, but again, too soon to tell.

      If you are referring to films she’s acted in, then that fault like with the director/producer/casting director.

  17. Juniper says:

    Are people really picking on her because of bloody Color Purple? Give me a break. I’ve been saying this for YEARS about Scorsese as well. I sort of give Speilberg a bit more of a pass because at least he makes films that women generally are interested in seeing on occassion. Scorsese makes dick flicks. That’s all he does. Don’t throw ‘Age of Innocence’ at me like they did with The Color Purple either. Way too long ago – way too little.
    Top male directors in hollywood have SHOCKING little interest in female stories. Hell, not even female stories but just a story that happens to have a female in the lead. In one sense it only reflects the studios’ incredible misogyny but come on – these two men could have taken more of a lead by now.

    • Alba says:

      I agree that he doesn’t have a good record, but at least he made one film with a black female lead. Thats more than 90% of Hollywood directors who have never made a film with a black female lead or a black ensemble for that matter.

    • Sigh... says:

      I agree with her & you!

      Woody “Grandpa Perv” Allen has only had ONE speaking part for a black woman in his DECADES-LONG career and she was a HOOKER, and this was well ignored/silenced before the daughter-wife mess, and still no real repercussion. So, I dont know if Banks pointed at Speilberg KNOWING she would get more press (& push back) than saying “Hollywood” and thrown on top of the whining-women pile, but she has PLENTY of instances she could have listed to bolster her point.

  18. SpunkyMama says:

    Just my 2 cents, if you look on IMDB, Danny Glover is top billed for the movie. I can’t recall if that’s how the credits were listed for the movie?

  19. Magnoliarose says:

    A woman directed Hurt Locker and it wasn’t about women. A good director can direct both sexes as leads and a variety of subjects. It is total sexism to think a woman can’t direct anything a man can. It is an archaic attitude. She is right there but there are several directors who would have made better examples.
    Spielberg has said he regretted directing Color Purple after directing Schindler’s List because he said it should have been directed by a black person. His experience shooting Schindler was powerful for him and he realized that Color Purple would have been more potent with a black director. I agree with him on that. Black directors didn’t get many chances to direct something with such rich source material back then much less now. It should have been a black woman.

  20. littlemissnaughty says:

    Well, good thing we are focusing on the right thing. Her mistake. Not the sausage fest that is the combined works of Hollywood’s most successful directors.

    She should have done more research before using the language she used. I highly doubt she completely forgot about the existence of TCP.

  21. BB Carrots says:

    Steven Spielberg was an executive producer for both Extant and the tv version of Minority Report. Both of those shows had not only women, but women of color, as leads.

    • BB Carrots says:

      He also EP’ed United States of Tara and a little tv show called Smash that may have involved some women..

      He was either a producer or executive producer for Twister, The Lovely Bones, I Wanna Hold Your Hand & Memoirs of a Geisha.

  22. rachel says:

    I think the dragging as more to with Anne Thompson calling the movie a flop (ridiculous) than Miss Banks comment.

  23. grey says:

    I can’t stand Elizabeth Banks. She is the literal definition of a Basic Becky. Her own movie, Pitch Perfect 2, featured just two WOC and was 90% white. Where’s the diversity, b-tch? Sooooo typical of her to complain about some ism in the industry while her own track record sucks. Her white privilege is showing. As for her comments about Spielberg, there are other, more relevant/recent examples she could have used. Christopher Nolan, anyone? Does Dunkirk have any female actors in it with significant speaking parts?? (No, it doesn’t.)

    • Lime says:

      I agree with the Nolan comment. Plus his men are always so macho and brooding. But he did do Interstellar if I recall, and there were definitely a few interesting women characters in that. The worst and most pretentious offender is Darren Aronofsky. Black Swan was a misogynistic mess. See black swan + the male gaze. But he gets a pass because he makes “art.”

      • Deering says:

        The women in Nolan’s Batman series have been quite good. His take on Catwoman was especially terrific–Hathaway was wonderful. 🙂 Ariadne in INCEPTION pushes a fair amount of the action–and she’s practically the only one calling diCaprio’s character out for refusing to face his demons, thereby endangering his crew. That said, there’s still too many sterotypical dead/evil/helpless wives, good daughters, and duplicitous vixens in the majority of his movies for him to get a pass here.

  24. HoustonGrl says:

    If you wanna call out someone, please call out Michael Bay. For me, the problem is not the lack of leads. It’s the way women are portrayed in general. The problem is systemic and doesn’t come down to one director though. Calling out someone publicly is also not the best PR move for whatever you’re shilling.

    • perplexed says:

      Yeah, he seems like a worse offender.

      When I think of Spielberg, I sometimes think of …dinosaurs and sharks and temples of doom, not women or men.

    • pinetree13 says:

      Very true. Like to me it’s HUGE PROGRESS when a movie portrays a male lead with a NEAR same-age female partner. I am so so so tired of the “50 year old male lead’s wife must be 28 tops” trope.

  25. Ana says:

    Steven Spielberg worked for years with a female partner, Kathleen Kennedy, he mentored her and now she’s the powerful head of Lucasfilm. He also made one of his best movies, E.T., with a female screenwriter.

    Jurassic Park and its sequel, both directed by Spielberg have female leads at the same level as the male lead (Laura Dern and Julianne Moore). His next movie, The Papers, has a big role for the first female newspaper publisher, played by Meryl Streep. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark has a kickass female co-lead.

    So yes, maybe not many of his movies have female leads. However, his female characters are always complex and well treated, never sexualized or put there as eye candy or the girlfriend role.

    I seriously doubt he’s the best example of sexism in the film industry.

  26. Lime says:

    Loved the Color Purple. Elizabeth Banks is on point. Aside WW was a pile of fun and loved Gal and Chris in it. BUT it’s the wrong kind of “feminist” film: anyone notice one of the baddies was your classic unattractive, scarred, bitter female? And the US-is-right-to-militarise agenda? I know it’s popcorn film but…
    James Cameron loves strong women leads in his films. He’s not exactly arthouse but I think he respects women in his films.

    • Ana says:

      Elena Anaya is hardly unattractive, and she wasn’t bitter either, just unhinged. Just because she’s scarred doesn’t mean she’s ugly. And the US doesn’t even play a part in the story, despite Chris Pine’s character being American.

      • Lime says:

        Really? She was always alone, troubled, and presented as a misfit with zero appeal. For example there’s the party seen where the two stereotypes are clearly contrasted against each other. Ww walks in and everyone falls in love and even the ugly woman gets bitter bc she draws pine’s attention away.

        And c pine’s character while working with the Brit spies is the embodiment of superior us intelligence and military intervention. The Brit generals were wimpy and reluctant to disturb the possibility of a truce or whatever and the rugged American was the only one willing to do what was needed despite the notes/evidence being available to all. Fun movie but arguably dubious subtext.

  27. fiorucci says:

    Zhang yimou and François Ozon – two directors with great female leads. Ozon has some films with really no leading men. Never considered that may be why I drawn to these movies. Zhangs movies usually have leads if both genders.

  28. SM says:

    Off topic but Frozen is the only movie my son who just turned 4 watches till the end. Repeatedly. For at least two Christmases. He spends about a week around Christmas time watching Frozen on repeat. It’s sort of hilarious to see him dance to Frozen when all hos friends watch Cars cartoons