September 12, 2017
As Charlize Theron's much hyped "Atomic Blonde" has lost almost all it's theaters after more than a month, while barely inching it's way to $50 million domestically and only an additional $39 million internationally, it is time to ask a simple question.
How, in the summer of "Wonder Woman," could a comic book adaptation of Antony Johnston and Sam Hart's 2012 "The Coldest City" by Oni Press – revolving around Charlize Theron in kickbutt mode as a spy who has to find a list of double agents who are being smuggled into the West on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 – not been a resounding success? Especially when you consider the recent success of comic book films, R-rated films like "Deadpool" and "Logan" and a cast featuring the likes of John Goodman, Sofia Boutella and James McAvoy, in addition to Theron.
Given the hunger for action films with female leads and a historically weak August and Labor Day at the box office, why didn't more people rush out to see "Blonde" and guarantee a new franchise?
While a confusing narrative and odd soundtrack had something to do with "Blonde" performing below expectations, the key Theron demanding a change to her character of Lorraine Broughton from the way she is portrayed in the comic in a way that made her less relatable and even unlikable.
Probably the most talked about scenes in "Atomic Blonde" – in which the focus is supposed to be on Theron's extremely skilled and lethal spy – is one in which Theron's Lorraine has sex with another female spy, played by Sofia Boutella. Her character is so inconsequential otherwise, it's not even worth remembering her name.
Really hot and progressive and cause for celebration, right?
Uh, that would be a no.
For starters, the character of Lorraine in the comics, on which the film is based, does not have any indication – let alone a scene – in which she has lesbian or bisexual tendencies. For another, it takes a female character who is able to dish out and take as much punishment as a man, and reinforces the stereotype that if a woman is into sports or considered a warrior, then the woman must be a lesbian or have some lesbian tendencies or inclinations.
Don’t get me wrong, obviously, such women can be lesbians, bisexuals, pansexuals, asexuals, straight, or whatever; my problem is assuming someone is homosexual based on gender stereotypes. I know plenty of women who love sports and could kick your butt who are happily straight. One of the problems with the "Atomic Blonde" scene is it reinforces the stereotype that such women must at least be "kinda gay."
The idea was pushed by star Theron, who was quoted by "Variety" as saying, "It made perfect sense. It just suited her. It just felt there was a way through that relationship and the fact that it was a same-sex relationship to show a woman not having to fall in love, which is one of those female tropes. ‘It’s a woman; she better fall in love — otherwise, she’s a whore!’”
This is pretty offensive. So, she needs to be in a same-sex relationship to show a woman not having to fall in love? As if she couldn't have a Lorraine Dude to demonstrate she doesn't need to get emotionally attached? Only a same-sex relationship could drive that point home? That seems to say a lot about what Theron thinks about same-sex relationships.
But wait, there's more. In the story, Theron also says, "Finding Sofia, that was a slam dunk. There’s something about her that’s so broken and vulnerable. It works."
Yes. It seems Boutella's spy does get emotionally involved. If Theron really wanted to show that female spies can be just as detached as male ones, why make Boutella's character more of a vulnerable puppy? Why not take the James Bond route and make her lovers her equal?
Also, by emphasizing this scene, people are sensationalizing what would be considered normal if Theron's character hooked up with a male spy. One reviewer breathlessly stated, "Theron's Lorraine locks lips, legs and labia" with Boutella's character. Others have said, "This scene is soooo hot!" Somehow, I doubt these reviewers would be acting like 8th graders talking about sex if the love scene was with, say, Tom Hiddleston.
Though Theron has literally rolled her eyes at comparisons between her Lorraine and James Bond, it's also pretty ironic that Daniel Craig's Bond has been strengthened as a character and a franchise by actually loving Eva Green's Vesper, while Theron seems to think having a same-sex relationship and showing there is no love involved somehow empowers her character.
Maybe she can be more like 007 if there is a sequel.