With The Fate Of The Furious getting its digital release, franchise star Michelle Rodriguez has taken the opportunity to call for better treatment for the women in the series, while also casting doubt on the future of her character, Letty. In what’s essentially an ultimatum, the actress has asked for those behind the films to “show some love to the women of the franchise,” in order to draw her back for the next instalment.
Whether she’s asking for better treatment of women in terms of the script, or in terms of salary, she makes a good point. Michelle Rodriguez has been a core part of the Fast & Furious franchise since it launched in 2001. Of the eight films in the series, Rodriguez has appeared in six of them – including the most profitable instalments, Furious 7 and Fate Of The Furious.
In fact, taking into account her role in Avatar as well, Michelle Rodriguez is in the rare position of starring in no less than three of the top 20 highest grossing films of all-time, in terms of worldwide box office. So, while she may not be a name that can open a blockbuster film on its own merit, she is certainly a talented and highly influential voice.
The Fast & Furious franchise has long been hailed as an example of how an inclusive approach to casting can yield high profits. But, with her comments here, Rodriguez perfectly pinpoints the fallacy of Hollywood’s version of big budget inclusivity, in that it largely seems to apply only to male characters. While the Fast & Furious films do indeed provide ample opportunity for a diverse male cast to shine onscreen, the way in which women are presented in those movies leaves a lot to be desired.
The point is that it’s not simply about who’s cast, it’s about the nature of their character, and the function of that character within the story. While the Fast & Furious films do feature more female characters than most – now including Charlize Theron’s villain – the majority of them are essentially passive in their actions and impact. Rodriguez’s Letty is one of the few exceptions, in that she’s been a significant character for an extended period of time, but it’s important to note that these comments by the actress are referring to women in the franchise in general – not just Letty.
Hopefully, as The Fate Of The Furious hits the home entertainment market, those behind the franchise will heed the comments of Michelle Rodriguez and actively seek to bring about the evolution of the testosterone-driven movies. After all, if these films are already so profitable, imagine what would be possible if more of an effort was made to include interesting women who exist outside relationships with men.