The 2013 lineup is all superheroes and crass man-boy bonding. Granted, studios release these types of movies every summer, but usually they’ll at least give us one rom-com or female ensemble movie, or a woman in a role that is not “secretary to an Avenger.” Or so I assumed, based on fond memories of The Notebook and every mediocre Kate Hudson film ever made. This year seemed worse to me, and so I decided to do the math, comparing the number of women in major roles in the last five years of major summer releases with those in major releases from twenty years ago. It turns out that yes, 2013 is a bad summer — but it is far from a record low point. This has been a problem for 25 years now.
And it’s getting worse. “[E]ven when counting courtesy roles, 2013 is the worst year in the modern era, and at 57 percent it’s below the average for the past five years…Less than 30 percent of all movies can bother to write in more than a wife or a sidekick.”
As the article notes, the success of “The Heat” will probably inspire a brief blip in women-led films. And there is one more encouraging note in a Buzzfeed collection of comments from writers about creating interesting, complex female characters. My favorite is Joss Whedon who responds to the question “Why do you write strong female characters?” “Because you’re still asking me that question.”
Even more encouraging is this list of 2013 movies written by women. Studios, take note of the talented women on screen and the writers and directors as well.