In news that is both great, and carved directly from common sense, Elizabeth Banks is forging ahead with her blossoming directing career, by apparently entering negotiations for the director’s chair of a Charlie’s Angels reboot for Sony.
With the big screen update of the TV show 21 Jump Street having been incredibly successful – creating a franchise for Columbia and MGM in the process – it seems Sony would like to try its hand at doing the same for the popular female-led action adventure tale, breathing new life into a movie franchise that stalled over a decade ago.
The original Charlie’s Angels series ran from 1976 to 1981, and starred Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett – although, Fawcett was replaced by Cheryl Ladd after the first season. The lead actresses played skilled private detectives working for an elusive, unseen supervisor called Charlie, with the assistance of a trusty sidekick named Bosley. Charlie would communicate with the team via a speaker, and the women would often find themselves tasked with dangerous and risky missions.
The premise was brought to movie theatres in 2000 by director McG, with Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu ad Drew Barrymore filling the lead roles – followed by a disappointing sequel in 2003. Drew Barrymore went on to executive produce a TV version of the show in 2011, although only 4 episodes ever aired. None of these updates ever achieved the kind of lasting popularity enjoyed by the original series, however, so with a welcome surge in female-led film projects (Gravity, The Heat, Spy, Pitch Perfect 2, Ghostbusters, and Wonder Woman, to name a few examples), it is unsurprising that Sony wish to resurrect the Angels.
Ordinarily, such an announcement would warrant much eye-rolling and bemoaning of the lack of originality in Hollywood. However, the combination of Charlie’s Angels and Elizabeth Banks is the type of union that seems so obvious, it is surprising that it has never happened before. The reason it is possible now, of course, is that Banks made her feature length directorial debut with Pitch Perfect 2 earlier this year, and earned the second largest movie opening ever achieved by a female director. The film was well-received, and Elizabeth Banks was critically acclaimed as the person calling the shots. In terms of directing quality films about women, Banks is currently winning.
The Charlie’s Angels project has yet to find a writer, which brings us to the next reason why Elizabeth Banks is perfect for this directing job. She is, it seems, drawn to female writers – with Pitch Perfect 2 having been penned by Kay Cannon, and another project Banks has lined up, Red Queen, being adapted by Gennifer Hutchison. The mind boggles as to the level of greatness that could be achieved if a Charlie’s Angels movie were to be actually written from a female point of view.
The premise of Charlie’s Angels was always a lot of fun – save for the fact that the women were instructed by a disembodied male voice in each situation. For all its depictions of capable, smart women, the inclusion of this infamously condescending ‘Charlie’ was a constant reminder of patriarchy – seeming to say, ‘You girls can play action hero, but only because this untouchable, powerful man provides you with that opportunity’. Each scene in which he featured felt engineered to remind the women of their lesser station. Perhaps, if Elizabeth Banks takes the helm of this reboot, ‘Charlie’ could be a shortening of ‘Charlotte’? Either Kate Jackson or Jaclyn Smith could fill that voiceover role quite admirably – as could Banks, herself.