It’s become something of a trend in Hollywood to switch up genders with big name properties. Perhaps the highest profile example of this came in the form of Ghostbusters — and it came coupled with a whole lotta criticism from fans. Despite such criticism, that hasn’t really stopped the industry from moving forward with this strategy. Also in development is a female-led Ocean’s Eleven spinoff, as well as a female-led 21 Jump Street spinoff. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se, but it definitely feels a bit lazy. Rather than cast a bunch of talented women in a bunch of “me too” franchises, why not create some of their own unique properties for them to spearhead?
It’s with that question that we come to The Mummy, an upcoming film that stars Tom Cruise and is set to kickstart an entire Universal Monsters shared universe of films. In addition to being noteworthy for its Marvel-esque ambition, the film is also notable for one thing: it’s female Mummy.
That’s right. Instead of going with the traditional male Mummy (in the vein of the original 1932 film, or its 1999 remake), they opted to go for actress Sofia Boutella in the fully-wrapped regalia. So what’s the reason for this? It’d be easy to blame this on the lazy aforementioned Hollywood trend, but it seems like that isn’t the case.
Speaking with CinemaBlend, The Mummy’s director, Alex Kurtzman, explained the real reason for this gender swap.
I’ll let you in on a secret. There was a moment when I had sort of rendered a design that I liked for a male version of The Mummy. And in that version of The Mummy, the Mummy had been born with a skin pigmentation that at the time would have made him really sort of an outcast. And I thought it was an interesting backstory, because it began to tell the story of someone who had been bullied, which I found topical. I was reaching for a way to make the Mummy a character who is relatable, understandable, and that spoke to issues that we're dealing with now.
Well, that certainly would have been quite the interesting approach. Of course, there was only one problem, and that came in the form of Apocalypse of X-Men: Apocalypse fame. This made it necessary for Kurtzman to rethink his next move.
I was going down that road, and then I saw the end of Days of Future Past. And they had the character that Oscar Isaac wound up playing as a boy, and it was, I kid you not, the exact same design. And I was like, 'Oh, man! That is not good!' And actually it was the catalyst, it was the moment of, 'Okay, not only is this not going to be different enough, Bryan Singer just did it, I definitely don't want to go down that road.' I had had that voice in my head for some time to make it a woman, and that was the moment where, the minute I saw that post-credits scene, I went, 'We have to start over.' I don't want to mess around even remotely with anything that feels familiar or feels like it's been done. I have to go in totally new territory.'
That indeed would be the quite the kick in the pants to make things work in a new way, but as we’ve always said here at LRM Online, oftentimes the best creative decisions are made out of restrictions and necessity. Kurtzman seems to have the same mentality.
In a way it was very helpful to me, because it made me take that leap. And once we took that leap, the story presented itself in such a beautiful way, such a different way. A lot of the decisions, you spend a lot of time talking to people and you think it through as much as you can, but ultimately it comes down to what feels right. And the minute I allowed myself to let the Mummy be Ahmanet, it just felt right. And that's the best way for me to say it.
Obviously, we have yet to see the finished film, but based on what we’ve seen in the trailer, the move from male to female looks to be a strong one. It certainly helps that Boutella has already played a couple strong women on screen before. This is no “me too” type of Mummy. She seems to have her own flavor of scary, and we’re excited to see just how it all plays out.
What do you think of Kurtzman’s comments? Do you think it was a good move to switch from a male Mummy to a female Mummy? Let us know your thoughts down below!
The Mummy hits theaters on June 9, 2016.
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SOURCE: Cinema Blend