Back in May, when 20th Century Fox announced that they would be rebooting The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I hoped they would do the right thing and change the men to women for a change of pace. And it looks like sometimes the stars align: in an interview with Collider, producer John Davis talked about the Extraordinary Gentlemen reboot: "Just by going back to the roots and making it authentic to what the fan base was really excited about. It’s female-centric, which I think is interesting," he said. Can I get a "hell yeah?" One problem, though: the original source material, sadly but not surprisingly, hardly features any female characters, save for chemist Mina Harker from Bram Stoker's Dracula. But no matter: late 19th century literature is rife with female protagonists that would be perfect to team up, Avengers-style, to save the world from evil.
The original 2003 film starred Sean Connery, Naseerudin Shah, Shane West, Peta Wilson and more in the film adaptation of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's comic series. The League is comprised of literary characters brought to life in the Victorian/Edwardian era in the late 19th century, banding together to defeat evil — a steampunk superhero movie, not unlike Sherlock Holmes (he's not in the League, but the villain of the film is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Moriarty).
The update with women is both long overdue and probably exactly what the series needs, although Davis and the rest of the team are going to have to take some creative liberties with the source material to make it female-centric. There are plenty to choose from, though — and here are some suggestions:
Charlotte Bronte's titular heroine is one of the strongest women in Western literature. By the end of her bildungsroman, Jane has forgotten more about adversity than you will ever know — and has held her own in the face of misogynistic, 19th century men.
If you haven't read Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, you should — the 1891 Thomas Hardy novel is sexy and scandalous. Tess is a maiden that's ousted from society just because she loses her virginity before she weds, but she is ultimaitely, obviously, a good woman. Fighting the double standards of patriarchy would make fighting an evil villain a cakewalk for Tess.
So technically, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen focuses on characters from the late 19th century, and Pride And Prejudice was published in 1813. But every superhero film needs some comic relief, and who better than Lizzie Bennet, who's smart as a whip and has the sassiest wit in England?
Perhaps the most tragic Russian woman in literature. I wouldn't be opposed to Keira Knightley reprising her role as Anna for The League. They could easily make her the villain if they wanted to.
The original spinster! Miss Havisham is from Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, and she is perhaps the best example of the "woman scorned" trope, and it would be amazing to see that subverted in a superhero film. Plus, she wears an ancient wedding dress.
Whoever the women end up being, let's hope that the reboot does them justice. It's looking promising, though. Davis also said that his inspiration from the film comes from a recent victory in feminist filmmaking: "I love female characters, point-of-view characters in action movies. I thought Mad Max was great. I think you can always find a fresh way of doing something and going back to the basics," he said. VICTORIAN LITERATURE: FURY ROAD.
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