In honor of International Day of the Girl, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn took to Facebook to admonish the lack of great roles being written for women in Hollywood and promised to do better.
In his post, Gunn said that he wanted to take a moment to address the great divide between stories and characters written for men and those that are created for women. Gunn points out that female characters are often one-dimensional and there to support the male actors on screen. The director added that great male characters, like Michael Corleone from The Godfather, Marty McFly and Han Solo are allowed to be complex and flawed, but it’s rare to find a female character in film given the same chance.
“I am sick of stories where there are a bunch of fully realized male characters and one female character, whose primary characteristic is simply being ‘the girl’ or the personality-less object of some man’s affections,” Gunn wrote.
“Great male characters, from Michael Corleone to Marty McFly to Han Solo to the Joker, are never perfect and never one-dimensional. They are sometimes heroic and sometimes villainous and often deeply flawed. But they always reflect the fullness of the world around us. I do not think that is true of the majority of female characters in films.”
The director added that while he has had “varying degrees of success” in writing female characters and making sure their characters are central to the story he’s trying to tell, he’s dedicated to trying to do better.
“I can’t wait for you all to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with Gamora, Nebula, and Mantis in action, where we not only pass the Bechdel test, but run over it and back up over it again and again in an eighteen-wheeler truck,” Gunn wrote. “And where their stories and the men’s stories don’t come at the expense of each other, but are interwoven in a way to strengthen and optimize all of them.”
Despite Gunn’s words, the director has been criticized in the past for his portrayal of female characters on screen. In 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy was criticized by some for its portrayal of women and the way male characters interacted and reacted to the female characters on screen. The Daily Dot wrote that while The Avengers had fewer female characters on screen, it treated them better than Guardians. Writers were quick to point out that before Guardians of the Galaxy had gotten underway, fans were skeptical about the director — who had previously penned posts like “50 Superheroes You Want To Have Sex With” — and how he would treat female characters on screen.
Still, Gunn said in his post that he’s committed to bettering his own stories and the characters he writes, asking others in the industry to do the same. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 hits theaters July 28, 2017.