Despite all of the controversy, and the overwhelmingly sexist criticism, Paul Feig's all-female Ghostbusters film is still going strong and trucking along to the theaters. Just when you thought the movie couldn't get better than the phrase "all-female Ghostbusters," we get even more good news in the form of the actor formerly known as Thor. That's right, Chris Hemsworth has been cast in the all-female Ghostbusters as a receptionist, because the Hollywood gods are smiling down upon us. But let me say that again for the people in the back: Hemsworth, who is currently best known for playing Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will appear in the all-female Ghostbusters in the traditionally female role of receptionist. I think we need to talk about how groundbreaking that is.
It's not that male secretaries and receptionists have never been explored in a movie or work of fiction before. Just because the job of a receptionist is one that is mainly held by, and traditionally associated with, women doesn't mean that Hemsworth and the all-female Ghostbusters film is the first to buck that trend. However, it's especially important that this is a seemingly deliberate choice that was made for this particular movie — important because of the controversy that surrounds of film, because of what a prolific actor Hemsworth is, and because of what Hemsworth is best known for.
I've complained of it before, but many of the critics who are already looking down at the Ghostbusters film are decrying it as unnecessary ("Why do they need to remake a movie with all women? Why can't they just leave a good thing alone?") or sexist ("Why does it have to be an all-female team? Why can't it be evenly split between men and women?") or stupid ("All-female Ghostbusters? What, are they going to nag the ghosts to extinction?"). The very idea of a Ghostbusters film starring a team of women has rankled people in a way that the original Ghostbusters film starring a team of men never did — because, you know, those movies were totally normal and not sexist in their exclusion of women at all.
Personally, I like to imagine the sexists of the world seeing this tweet on Feig's Twitter and wiping the sweat from their brows in relief, thinking, "Finally, some testosterone in this film! Finally, males are being included again after being so cruelly left out of this — does that say receptionist?" I like to imagine their mouths dropping open in horror, their bodies filling with self-righteous indignation, and then rushing to their own personal Twitters to complain that men are being marginalized unfairly once more in this new Ghostbusters film by being relegated to the insulting role of receptionist to a troublingly all-female team of ghost busting badasses. That's probably not exactly what happened, but I can't imagine that the same people complaining about all the estrogen on the new Ghostbusters team are pleased that Hemsworth is a receptionist in the film.
I mean, look at what People's Sexiest Man Alive is famous for. He is one of the trifecta of Chrises currently starring in his own film series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he plays Thor, the god of Thunder, the brother of Loki, the son of Odin. Those biceps could scare ghosts away all on their own, even without him suiting up as a Ghostbuster. He is, essentially, exactly the kind of actor you would expect to be leading a new Ghostbusters team — not standing around in the background attractively answering phone calls and making appointments for that team. He is more Iron Man than Pepper Potts, is what I'm saying. (Well, sort of. We all know Pepper ran that company.) But not here. Here he is playing a secondary, supporting role (with love interest potential? Who knows?) to an all-female team that is taking the reigns after decades of waiting. Literally, I could squeal, I'm so happy.
It begs comparison to Feig's most recent offering, Spy, in which Melissa McCarthy played an unlikely heroine who rises to the occasion to become the spy no one thought she could be. And by no one, I mean chief among them is Jason Statham, who follows her across the country angrily informing her how ill-suited she is for the job and how much better suited he is for the job — all the while messing up, ending up in danger she needs to rescue him from, or even, at one point, getting quickly knocked out. For a man with such a decorated history, in and out of the Spy universe, of doing death-defying action stunts, in Spy he ended up being a parody of himself who was really there to play a background, supporting role to McCarthy.
And I'm glad that this appears to be similar to the role that Hemsworth will be playing in Ghostbusters, not because I'm not a huge fan of the actor (I am) but because, if I want to see him in the spotlight in the role of an action hero, then I will watch any single Marvel movie. I want McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon to have their time to shine in a universe that has, to this point, been horrifically male-dominated. I want the people who were refusing to see the movie before to come for the Hemsworth and stay for the fine acting of these four hilarious and talented ladies. I want Ghostbusters to be a success, and I want Hemsworth's box office draw to contribute to that success. Even if he's the reason more people come to see the film, he won't be the reason they fall in love with this all-female team. They'll capture your hearts on their own.