It’s no secret that actress, director, and producer Elizabeth Banks has a history of empowering women in the often discriminatory world of Hollywood. Banks’ latest project is the new Charlie’s Angels reboot starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska. Banks puts a feminist spin on the beloved franchise by centering women’s friendships and power when they work together.
“The movie’s a real celebration of women working together,” says Banks, who wrote, directed and starred in Charlie’s Angels.
Banks explains that building strong relationships between women in real life is the key to crafting convincing relationships on screen. “Everybody trained together at the beginning, and I think that really helped build a lot of the camaraderie that we brought to set.”
And, most importantly, the leading ladies of Charlie’s Angels had complete control over their roles–that level of autonomy for female stars is a rarity in major Hollywood blockbusters. “If they brought something to set, if we wanted to change it, they always had a move. They were always ready,” Banks said when asked about the stunt choreography for the film.
Because women were involved in every step of the process, Banks and the rest of the Charlie’s Angels team made sure the fighting in the film reflected how real women would react in the same situations. “I was able to think about how real women would fight. What are the advantages that women need in order to overcome men who are physically bigger and more powerful? I had a mantra the entire time: ‘The women have to fight smarter, not harder.’”
Unfortunately, Charlie’s Angels failed to reach its goal in the male-dominated box office; with a budget of $48 million, the film made just $8.6 million upon opening. But Banks isn’t fazed–she expected this. “If this movie doesn’t make money it reinforces a stereotype in Hollywood that men don’t go see women do action movies.”
“They’ll go and see a comic book movie with Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel because that’s a male genre. So even though those are movies about women, they put them in the context of feeding the larger comic book world, so it’s all about, yes, you’re watching a Wonder Woman movie but we’re setting up three other characters or we’re setting up ‘Justice League.’”
Banks will keep fighting box-office sexism like her titular Angels fighting evil, but she hopes that audiences will fight with her–by going to see movies that feature women both in front of and behind the camera. “We need more women’s voices supported with money because that’s the power. The power is in the money.”