Change is good.
At least, that’s my opinion . I had a very interesting debate the other night regarding change, specifically that which comes when adapting books or comics to movies or television shows. The crux of the debate circled around whether or not it was ‘okay’ to change the race (or gender) of an iconic character. It revolved specifically around that of Roland Deschain from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, and the Doctor from Doctor Who.
On my side of the argument I said yes. Yes, it is okay to change race/gender so long as the character is still intrinsically similar. Do I think that a retelling of the classic Captain America story should have the role filled by a woman? Well, maybe not. It would be a different story simply because of the time and place that Captain America originates from. With a different race/gender, the character would have a much different experience of events, and while the personality might survive, it would still be a different story. But then again, maybe even that’s okay – a new take on an iconic character could be a breath of fresh air and allow the movie to touch on new issues.
But Captain America example aside, when the race/gender of a character has NO bearing on personality? At that point I think it’s a FANTASTIC idea to break the mold. I love re-imagined adaptations/interpretations (when they are well done). In the case of Roland Deschain, and similarly Johnny Storm in the most recent Fantastic Four movie, or with a female version of the Doctor, I don’t feel like gender or race would make much of a difference to who that character is. And hell, even with my initial example I still concede that even then the personality could endure, and to me that’s the most iconic part of the character:
Who they are as a person and the actions that define them.
So fuck it. Why can’t we have a black woman be Captain America? Couldn’t she still fight for justice and the American dream and take down Nazi’s of any era? Sure her backstory would be different, how she came to fight in the army during that time and the trials that she faced, but is it really so wrong to re-imagine those things?
I’ll admit that mistakes have been made recently with other movies trying to reboot a franchise with a gender-flipped cast (coughGhostbusterscough), and while I’m not against the premise of an all woman team replacing a previously all male team, for the love of god why can’t it be done right? If you want to change something, change is all the way! We didn’t need a remake, we needed a new start. Make them the daughters. Pass the fucking torch. Give us women, give us minorities, but give them their own movies too, don’t just steal from the past cause you’re too lazy to make a brand new movie for fear or failure. Create something new for them.
You know what movie did a great job of this in my opinion? Evil Dead. I love me some Bruce Campbell, and nobody will ever be able to replace his amazing Evil Dead movies, and so they didn’t even try. What did they do instead? Made something DIFFERENT. They didn’t try to capture the same feelings and exact same story as the original. Sure there were call backs and some scenes almost shot for shot identical, but it was different enough in tone that it didn’t matter. It was clearly a ‘remake,’ but it was done right.
So either make it different enough to stand apart, or make it a continuation I say.
Change is good though people. But, for all the naysayers who think that a different race/gender is killing an iconic character, please tell me why you think that way. Who the hell could have looked cooler than Idris fucking Elba?