Jennifer Lawrence Gets Reminded That No, ‘The Hunger Games’ Wasn’t the First Female-Led Action Movie

Jennifer Lawrence invited pushback on social media today after stating in an interview between herself and Viola Davis that Katniss Everdeen was essentially the first female action hero.

While the conversation with fellow actress Viola Davis covers a number of subjects, the excerpt Variety chose to excerpt was of the “Winter’s Bone” and “Causeway” star stating that “I remember doing ‘Hunger Games,’ nobody ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie before.”

That provably incorrect statement unleashed a deluge of online pushback, with responders throwing out various examples of big action movies with female leads. Variety eventually took down the offending tweet, a rare move in a media ecosystem that sometimes prioritizes outrage-driven engagement.

Also Read:
Jennifer Lawrence Gets Candid on Gender Pay Gap and Roe v. Wade: ‘I Can’t F– With People Who Aren’t Political Anymore’

To the surprise of nobody with a working knowledge of social media, Twitter unleashed a barrage of counter-examples, with the likes of “Terminator 2: Judgement Day,” “Aliens,” Angelina Jolie’s “Tomb Raider” films, Milla Jovovich’s six-film “Resident Evil” franchise and the likes of “Kill Bill,” “Atomic Blonde,” with a few folks shouting out Pam Grier’s 1970’s Blaxploitation classics.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

https://twitter.com/AisleSeat/status/1600538146180980736

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

The issue is not that a young actress stated offhand that her big action franchise was a trendsetter or groundbreaker when she first began playing Katniss Everdeen back in 2011.

Heck, she may have felt that way as a teenager or been told by higher-ups that a film like “The Hunger Games” was the first of its kind. Her comments about hearing that women could relate/would relate to a male action hero but that men wouldn’t/couldn’t relate to a female action star is the very definition of conventional wisdom.

To the extent that the faux pas matters beyond folks online getting “mad online” at a famous actress claiming that her big movie was the first of its kind (see also: Rebel Wilson arguing in 2019 that “Isn’t It Romantic” was the first major studio rom-com starring a plus-size woman), it’s that kind of pop culture amnesia that has pervaded much of the entertainment industry in the 2010s and now the 2020s.

Sony had to convince audiences that Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” is totally different from Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” because it’s focused on romance, features a sympathetic villain who becomes a father-figure to Peter Parker and offers rousing scenes of New Yorkers coming together to help the web-slinger. Warner Bros. sold “The Batman” as the first time the Dark Knight was shown to be the world’s greatest detective.

Every new James Bond movie sells itself as having the first Bond Girl who’s not just a damsel-in-distress or booty call. Every Disney Princess movie sells itself as offering the least conventional Disney princess ever. The core of the “Halloween” (2018) marketing campaign revolved around an ignorance of the existence of “Halloween: H20” (which also had Laurie Strode confronting generational trauma and battling Michael Myers decades after the initial confrontation). It’s an almost necessary requirement for selling and promoting endless reboots (or legacy sequels) of the same IP over and over again, namely convincing audiences that what’s old is magically new again.

This is also indicative of the mentality that pervades the industry as well, so that (for example) every new female-led action franchise (“Wonder Woman”) or female-led comedy IP (“Ghostbusters: Answer the Call”) is seen as a do-or-die, zero-sum test case no matter how many like-minded films have scored before. The folks in Hollywood clinging to conventional wisdom are only all too willing to accept the notion that every new “Hunger Games” or “Resident Evil” is the first of its kind. That way, if such a film fails, they can more easily chalk it up to the notion of big movies for/about women not being as reliable commercially as stereotypical macho melodramas.

Even years after “Bridesmaids,” “Ocean’s 8” and “Girl’s Trip” are still seen as a “test” for female ensemble comedies.

In essence, Lawrence’s statements, while not a grand moral offense, are indicative of Hollywood’s ongoing vices, namely trying to resell new version of old IP by convincing audiences that it’s entirely different than what’s come before and in finding any excuse to write off the success of a “not a white guy” franchise success as anything other than a fluke.

Also Read:
How Disney Animation Lost the Box Office Crown to Universal for 3 Straight Years – With No Turnaround in Sight | Chart