Bring out the Females and the Young!
One of the things I love about romance: Female characters drive the action. This shouldn’t seem like a revolutionary idea, but over at the Cineplex, all the action films have state of the art special effects and female characters that might as well be wearing bouffants and pearls. Take Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. There is a lot of talk about “the females and the young,” as in, “Leave the females and the young” and “oh, no, the females and the young!” The human and simian females don’t have a lot to do, acting-wise, besides looking all Susie Sad Eyes at their heroic man and apefolk. Yeah, sure, the main human female character is supposedly a doctor who worked for the CDC, but all she actually gets to do in the film is open a bag and pull out some medicine (without asking any questions about her patient’s condition. If that’s CDC protocol, that explains how the simian flu wiped out the human population).
The problem here is that the writers thought that telling us that the character is a doctor makes her seem more competent and intelligent. It doesn’t. You need to show a character using medical skills to make them seem competent.
And it’s very satisfying, watching characters display competence.
The original Planet of the Apes, which came out in 1968, was a lot less sexist. Dr. Zira played a pivotal role and displayed intelligence, competence and bravery. In fact, she took the lead in confronting orangutan scientific authority, backed up by her husband. (The original novel, by the way, was written by Pierre Boulle, author of The Bridge over the River Kwai).
What do you mean, our roles are smaller in the reboot?