Tomb Raider comes out this Friday, and with it, all the usual bullshit that accompanies female led films. When the first promotional images were released, I wrote about my anger and disgust over the comments made about Alicia Vikander’s body. I’m still just as angry and disgusted, as similar comments are still being made. But I’ll get into that later. I’ve been following the promotional tour for the movie, which consists mostly of watching a lot of interviews, gushing over Alicia Vikander’s premiere looks, and reading a lot of articles. There was one piece in particular that I came across that I found very encouraging.
In her review of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Amy noted with no small amount of anger that there is far, far too much rape and sexual assault happening to women in film, and she’s absolutely right. Not only is it all over the damn place, but it’s almost never handled well. Does something bad need to happen in the plot? Does a female character need to overcome some kind of obstacle? Or better yet, does a male character need something to be angry about? Rape a female character. I tried to remember the last time a piece of media actually examined the effect of rape and sexual assault on women and had a hard time coming up with something.
Which brings us back to Tomb Raider. When the rebooted version of the Tomb Raider video game—the one this new movie is based on—came out in 2013, it caused quite an uproar amongst fans. So much so that even I, someone who doesn’t play video games at all, heard about the controversy. Before the game’s release a producer revealed that a sequence depicting how Lara Croft first came to kill someone showed that she did so in order to protect herself from being raped by a man who had kidnapped her. Because of course.
Alicia Vikander, who was familiar enough with the video game to have heard about this scene, said in an interview that before she made the movie she wanted assurance that sexual assault was not going to be part of the story. Thankfully it hadn’t been written in, but I was glad to see Alicia being open about wanting to speak to the screenwriters. She signed on to this film right after her breakout year and subsequent Oscar win so she definitely had the pull to raise a fuss about it, and she used that pull to ensure Lara Croft wouldn’t fall prey to such a sexist trope.
Director Roar Uthaug added that “It’s nice to have action scenes between a woman and a man without there having to be something sexual to it.” Indeed it is, even though that’s a depressingly low bar.
Sadly, just because the filmmakers realize that female characters deserve better doesn’t mean that everyone else does. The post I wrote about those first promotional images was published almost exactly a year ago, and even with the #MeToo and Time’s Up changing a tremendous amount since then, the sexist assholes are going down swinging.
A valid question, and one we all ask ourselves even though we already know that the answer is “unfortunately not.” People with much more patience than myself have written many eloquent essays about the ways insecure men lash out at women. I don’t have the space for that here, so instead I’ll simply say: Listen up dickheads. Women do not exist to be your boner fodder, and Alicia Vikander would never so much as sneeze in the general vicinity of your existence.
I’ll see Tomb Raider over the weekend and will share my thoughts on it next week, but I’m already very much inclined to enjoy it. The creators are doing right by their female character, and the misogynists are enraged. That alone is worth the ticket price.