Hollywood has often had a tough time with gender roles. While films like Mad Max: Fury Road and I’ll See You in My Dreams have proven that women can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts in any genre, we fear that it could be a long time before women in Hollywood command the same respect (not to mention paychecks) as their differently-chromosomed co-stars.
Enter Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot, in which the male leads are replaced with four of the funniest women working today, and the female secretary is swapped out for Chris Hemsworth. But is that enough? What other movies should be remade with the genders of the entire main cast switched? The plots of these hypothetical films mostly won’t need to be re-written (beyond some pronouns here and there) because men and women are both human, and humanity is at the core of all great fiction. Films like Alien were written so that each role could be played by an actor of either gender, and writers like William Gibson are famous for writing their female leads as human beings first, and women second.
Let’s enter a brave new world in which heroic male leads are replaced with tough women, damsels in distress are switched out for helpless men in trouble, and other interesting reversals in the dynamics of traditional gender roles. Here’s 15 Gender-Reversed Remakes We Want to See. Some spoilers ahead.
1994’s Clerks is Kevin Smith’s first and most enduring film, a slice-of-life comedy with sprinkled-in bits of profound humanity. Dante and Randall are two regular guys trapped in the young man’s purgatory of having a dead-end job and directionless lives, with a myriad of crazy customers and bizarre hijinks punctuating the day.
Clerks is revered as a modern classic, and its characters, as sexually perverse and foul-mouthed as they may be, are fully-developed and completely believable. Lady Clerks, as well as many of the other films on this list, would show how changing the genders of the lead characters while leaving the actual story completely intact (give or take the sexual misadventures of Dante’s girlfriends) would do little to alter the messages and comedy of the film.
14. Air Force One
“Harrison Ford is the President of the United States.” So says the tagline of Air Force One, one of the best action movies of the ’90s, in which the President’s plane, the titular Air Force One, is hijacked by Russian terrorists (led by Gary Oldman) who want to secure the release of a war criminal from prison. President Ford calls shenanigans on their plan and embarks on a “Die Hard on Air Force One” plot to kill the villains and rescue his family. It’s pretty intense stuff, and, despite the terrorist themes being somewhat less conducive towards popcorn entertainment these days, the movie holds up exceptionally well.
While Air Force One featured a female Vice President, played by Glenn Close, we’d personally like to see a Sela Ward or Sigourney Weaver type star as the President and tell a terrorist to “get off my plane!” If America can accept 63-year-old Liam Neeson as an action hero, allowed to star in three Taken films, then we can get on board with a badass female President.
13. Back to the Future
Marty McFly travels thirty years back in time and has to make sure his parents get together after he accidentally causes his mother to fall in love with him. Meanwhile, he enlists the help of kooky scientist Emmet Brown in an attempt to send himself back to the future. The premise of Back to the Future seems kind of weird when we put it like that, doesn’t it?
While Back to the Future is something of a sacred property to fans, we also know that a remake is an inevitability. It’s going to happen sooner or later, so why not try to shake things up by making Marty a girl (we wouldn’t even have to change the name!), Doc Brown a lady (Blythe Danner, anyone?) and making the gross-yet-charming incest plot revolve around getting her mom to fall in love with her dad after papa McFly gets the hots for young Marty!
If a Back to the Future remake absolutely has to happen (which, to be clear, it does not), then at least do it our way. Swapping the characters’ genders will change things up, while also keeping the spirit of the original intact.
12. His Girl Friday
Here is an interesting case. The original play, The Front Page, has been adapted into no less than four films. In each of them, the role of the no-nonsense newspaper editor, Walter Burns, has always been filled by a man. The second lead, however, Hildy Johnson, was male in the play, but was changed into a female in the film His Girl Friday, the most popular version of the story.
In His Girl Friday, starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, Hildy Johnson is a star reporter, and Burns’s ex-wife, who is preparing to retire and get married to a new man. Burns takes it upon himself to keep her around so she can cover a story and also sabotage her impending marriage. Trust us, it’s a lot funnier than it sounds! Most of the original play, despite the gender switch, was kept intact for this adaptation, and we’d like to take it a step further.
What if shrewd editor Burns is played by a woman (think Supergirl‘s Calista Flockhart), and her ex-husband, intrepid reporter Hildy Johnson, is played by some hot dude, like… Chris Pine? The best part of this hypothetical version of the story is how little would need to be changed from the 1940 version of the story. Great comedies are timeless, indeed.
11. Some Like it Hot
Speaking of classic comedies, Some Like it Hot is one of the most legendary laugh-riots of all time. It broke ground with its hilarious and risque Twelfth Night-inspired premise, of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dressing in drag to elude gangsters, sneaking into an all-female jazz band, falling in love with Marilyn Monroe, and being courted by a dirty old man, complete with tons of gay subtext and a progressive deconstruction of traditional gender roles. Some of the comedy hasn’t aged well (Tony Curtis and Joe E. Brown’s characters are more than a little creepy by today’s standards), but much of the rest film has withstood the test of time. After all, “nobody’s perfect,” right?
What if two women witness a mob hit, dress in drag and sneak into some all-male club of some sort to avoid the murderous gangsters? While there, they fall in love with Channing Tatum and try to avoid the advances of dirty old woman Maggie Smith, all while learning how to subvert their gender roles. That sounds like a winning formula to us. Hollywood, take note.
10. Single White Female
One of the many ’90s thrillers with erotic overtones, Single White Female hasn’t aged particularly well, but its premise is solid and ripe for being remade. The set-up is this: Bridget Fonda’s new roommate, Jennifer Jason Leigh, is crazy and tries to take over her life. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the basic concept. First she gets her hair cut the same way as Fonda’s character, and then she tries to seduce her fiancee, and then people start dying.
The film has already been stolen from a number of times, most notably in 2011’s dud of a would-be thriller, The Roommate. A gender-swapped remake definitely has potential to be interesting and different, in that it could explore the male roommate dynamic of a stranger sharing your apartment, which is more-or-less unexplored in most fictional thrillers. And then, of course, people can start dying.
While it would be nigh on impossible to replicate the process used by Richard Linklater in his ultimate coming-of-age story, 2014’s Boyhood, the cast is so wonderfully varied between the two most common genders that it is a ripe contender to hypothesize what it would be like if it were the same, but different.
More than the boy and his sister, or any of the numerous supporting characters, we’re most interested in how the film would differ if the characters portrayed by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette (Mom and Dad) had their characterizations reversed. In the film, Dad remarries after his divorce and remains romantically content for the remainder of the film. On the other hand, Mom goes through a handful of suitors, whose courtships and subsequent marriages all end poorly, even violently.
Men can be victims of domestic abuse, but one wouldn’t know that by watching movies, in which such situations rarely happen, and, when they do, are usually played for comedy. Were their situations reversed, it would shine a light on a lesser-known angle of domestic violence.
8. Lord of the Flies
Humans are cruel, ugly, and hateful creatures, and the artificial construct of “society” is all that keeps us from reverting to our savage nature. Such is the pessimistic moral of Lord of the Flies, the 1954 novel by William Golding, which has been adapted to the screen twice; first in 1963, and again in 1990.
The story follows a plane full of schoolboys which crash lands on a deserted island. While the children attempt to establish a facsimile of civilization, it doesn’t take long for it all to come crashing down and for the “survival of the fittest” mentality to take hold.
Everybody knows that girls are smarter than boys, but were the island populated entirely by young girls instead of boys, we fear the outcome would be no different, with the strong preying on the weak. Being cut off from society means traditional gender roles no longer matter, which may seem empowering at first blush, but would ultimately lead to the same shocking acts of murder and brutality which permeate the original novel.
7. Reservoir Dogs
Quentin Tarantino has never had any problem writing women. Kill Bill is a glorious ode to the capacity for women to commit acts of (awesome) violence, to say nothing of Jackie Brown. But there is a noticeable lack of estrogen in his first film, Reservoir Dogs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s practically the point of the movie! Reservoir Dogs is all about men and their manly schemes, with nary a female speaking-role in sight, including the one who shoots Mr. Orange. Females are exclusively an off-screen presence in the film, but the movie itself is a deconstruction of masculinity, so… for all intents and purposes, “no girls allowed.”
That being said, this extreme macho-fest would be ripe to be explored from the other side. What if all the characters were women instead of men? Would the story play out any differently? Similarly to our speculation on Lord of the Flies, is there any difference between unregulated testosterone and unbridled estrogen? Maybe, maybe not, but, either way, we’d love to see how such a situation would play out!
1996’s Fear, starring Reese Witherspoon and “Marky” Mark Wahlberg (in his first starring role!) is ripe for being remade; it’s a decent, if unremarkable, film packed with 90s nostalgia and and a wickedly entertaining premise. Reese Witherspoon is Nicole, an saccharine-sweet teenager who falls in love with the bad boy, played by Walhberg. After she ultimately breaks his heart, he reveals himself to be a bona fide nutcase who then stalks her and attempts to murder her friends and family, leaving it up to Nicole’s father, played by William Peterson, to kick butt and save the day.
Now, imagine if Reese’s character were played by a Tom Holland type, who falls head-over-hells for… Let’s say Vanessa Hudgens. After some passionate romance, he breaks things off, and she goes absolutely crazy, leading her gang to attack Holland’s home, where his mother, Laura Dern, fends off the thugs, Straw Dogs-style. That’s a movie we’d pay to see.
We were thinking of recommending Reese Witherspoon to play the mother, but, to her credit, she doesn’t look old enough to play Tom Holland’s mom, despite being only a few years younger than William Peterson was in the original film.
5. Die Hard
It’s hard to overstate Die Hard‘s influence on action cinema. After much of the 80s were chock full of huge muscles and macho posturing, Bruce Willis’s turn as everyman John McClane was nothing less than a revelation. McClane bled and retreated from battle, cut his feet on broken glass, and was otherwise unprepared for the action and violence he wound up participating in. Willis was not known for being an action hero at the time, which is precisely why he was so perfect in the role. McClane was out of his element, but he was the only one who could fight back, so he did what he had to do. It’s righteous machismo without all the bells and whistles and baggage which makes its contemporaries feel so dated; Die Hard is revered as a timeless classic.
Let’s remake Die Hard with an unexpected female lead. But we don’t want to see a waif-fu star like Summer Glau in the role or a tough-gal like Gina Carano, since we already know she can kill everyone in any room she happens to walk into; we want someone who’s going to bleed in every scuffle, and who would reinvent themselves, not as just another action hero, but as a regular lady who happens to be around when an action hero is needed. Bruce Willis was starring on Moonlighting (decidedly not an action show) when he was cast in the original Die Hard, so give us something equally unexpected, someone who will raise eyebrows like Michael Keaton in Batman. Who would you like to see as a female John McClane? And remember, no matter what you think up, at least it can’t possibly be worse than A Good Day to Die Hard!
4. The Expendables
The Expendables, Sylvester Stallone’s pet passion project, was a celebration of the greatest action heroes of the past and present, and co-starred such legends as Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, and Jason Statham. The sequel amped things up, featuring Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger fighting side-by-side in an epic shootout (the latter two had mere cameos in the original film), and an awesomely out-of-nowhere performance from Jean Claude Van Damme. Who knew the Muscles From Brussels could really act? The Expendables 3… Well, aside from a diabolical Mel Gibson at his most villainous this side of real life, that film is largely considered to be a huge step down from its predecessors.
An all-female version of The Expendables has been “in development” for some time, with names like Meryl Streep, Milla Jovovich, and Cameron Diaz having been courted for lead roles. We’d drop the tentative ExpendaBelles title and make it a straight-up ripoff, with someone like Meryl Streep or Linda Hamilton being Stallone’s female counterpart with her own team of lady mercenaries. No contrived reason for the all-female makeup of the team, just women shooting guns and stabbing fools for 100 minutes, punctuated by witty banter and a heavy-handed thematic story, just like its progenitor.
3. Léon: The Professional
In Luc Besson’s 1994 action/thriller, The Professional (known as Léon), Jean Reno plays a hitman who takes young Natalie Portman under his wing and trains her to become a killer so she can get revenge on corrupt DEA agent Gary Oldman, who killed her family.
While there’s some exciting action, much of the film focuses on the complicated relationship between the stoic hitman and his tween protégée, complete with some serious (and seriously icky) sexual tension. Swapping the genders of its two leads would be interesting for the audience, some members of whom might learn about their own double-standards at the prospect of a would-be romance between a twelve-year-old boy and a grizzled hitwoman.
In the original script for The Professional, Reno and Portman actually become lovers, but that’s gross, so they fortunately cut that element from the film. It would be equally gross the other way around, but it would be interesting to see how the audience perceives an identical relationship with the genders reversed.
2. Ocean’s Eleven
Whether we’re talking about the original Rat Pack caper or the George Clooney-led remake, Ocean’s Eleven is, before anything else, a “cool” movie. Frank Sinatra/George Clooney stars as Danny Ocean, a master thief who organizes one hell of a heist, with his ten friends and accomplices all playing integral roles in the masterfully executed crime.
An all-female remake of the core concept has been in development since October 2015, with Sandra Bullock set to star and Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games) directing, and Clooney and Steven Soderbergh (director of the remake trilogy) producing. We hope they keep the focus on “cool” like in Ocean’s Eleven and Thirteen, while staying away from the poor choices which were made on Ocean’s Twelve. The main characters in Ocean’s aren’t great because they’re men; they’re great because they’re cool, a trait which transcends gender. Here’s hoping the new film views its leads as human beings first, and women second.
1. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a family classic which plays to all ages and somehow holds up despite being very clearly a product of its time. There’s something about the time-traveling adventures of the two lovable slackers which keeps the film and its sequel adorably charming. While we eagerly await the long-in-development Bill & Ted 3, we can play make-believe and imagine a remake starring female versions of our favorite dim-witted metalheads.
Bill & Ted are just your average metal-loving teenagers, so transposing their characters into young women shouldn’t be difficult at all. Billie & Tess, as we’d imagine them, would be virtually identical to their male counterparts, give or take a chromosome and some extra hairspray (it is heavy metal, after all). All it takes is a little rock and roll and a lot of love to make the world a better place, regardless of what you hide in your pants.
Do you agree with our choices and rationales behind them? What movies would you like to see remade with a gender-swapped cast? Sound off in the comments below!
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