The Wheel and Axle

Chris and Chris

by on Jul.18, 2016, under Film & TV

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I have newfound respect (and love) for both Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pine.

Both A-list leading Hollywood men, they willingly accepted work as second fiddle to women.

I’d hire him. Wouldn’t you?

Hemsworth is currently in the Ghostbusters remake/reboot, which has stirred some controversy because of its all-female lineup. When the cast was announced last year, misogynists everywhere came out of the woodwork to decry the film without having even seen it – pretending that the anger is borne out of the “raping of their childhoods” (seriously) when in fact their issue is that four women not Angelina Jolie or Milla Jovovich would be kicking asses in an action/adventure film.

Yes, twerps will deny this, but their YouTube and Facebook comments are extremely telling. Misogynists will never admit they are misogynists. I might take them a bit more seriously if they already watched the movie, but all the vitriol had been happening for almost a year before the movie’s first trailer even appeared, and all their credibility is now lost in a sea of hatred all over the interwebs.

None of this matters to Hemsworth, who – despite his unquestionable place as a current hot leading man – supports the four women by taking on the role of the well-meaning if somewhat himboish receptionist Kevin Beckman. In the previous iteration, this role was that of Janine Melnitz, portrayed by Annie Potts as a gum-chewing, somewhat bimboish, but always adorable secretary. Both characters are ultimately useless (in the movies, anyway, because Janine was developed in the cartoons and became kickass therein).

Based on more recent online comments I’ve seen, naysayers now cry foul and claim “man-hate” because Kevin is a bumbling moron subject to leering eyes and that the movie is supposedly some kind of misandric exercise in putting down the males of the species. Apparently, for these morons, it’s okay for a woman like Janine to be a useless secretary – but not Kevin because, I guess, the morons feel threatened and emasculated seeing an alpha male become nothing more than eye candy and the butt of jokes by women.

Thankfully, Hemsworth is smarter and more secure than that, and he obviously relishes and enjoys the role so much. Watch out for those closing credits.

Riding behind Wonder Woman

Meanwhile, we have Chris Pine taking on the iconic comic book character Steve Trevor opposite to newbie Gal Gadot in next year’s Wonder Woman. Like Hemsworth, Pine has also built a career out of being one of Hollywood’s current top leading men – perhaps even more so with a wider filmography under his belt.

For the first time, Pine takes a backseat to a leading woman. Now, one can argue Princess Diaries 2 was really Anne Hathaway’s movie and Pine was support, but that was a romantic comedy. What makes Wonder Woman different is that it is an action movie, a genre dominated by leading men where – even when there are strong female characters involved – the women take a backseat (see: Black Widow in any of the Marvel movies released so far).

Not so with Wonder Woman, where the leading man is a key component of the mythos while still being a support to the empowered female lead.

Have we never wondered why the Resident Evil series has never had a stable leading man? Or why no Angelina Jolie-led action movie has had a true leading man (see: Salt, where the husband is a cipher who dies; Tomb Raider) or the leading man is on equal footing with her (Mr. and Mrs. Smith). It seems Hollywood has generally avoided having the male love interest or leading man be eclipsed by the female lead.

If Wonder Woman will take its cue for Steve Trevor from the comics – any of the various iterations across 75 years – then we are looking to finally have an actual solid love interest who will be crucial to the story while unmistakably allowing the action heroine to be the true star of the show.

Now, one can argue that the movie may deviate from that Steve Trevor, but Chris Pine’s statements about the character are indicating otherwise. It seems we will have the Steve perfectly described by current Wonder Woman artist Liam Sharp: a compassionate, fearless, and tough man who is completely secure in his masculinity that, even if Wonder Woman will need to rescue him and literally carry him in her arms (as most classic portrayals show), it will not be an affront to his masculinity. He continues to fight the good fight despite being a mere mortal fighting alongside an all-powerful Amazon.

And Pine pretty much embodied this ideal when he agreed to breathe life into Steve Trevor. His security in his own masculinity and his status as a leading man is not threatened by playing support not just to a woman but to a neophyte actress. In the process, they empower each other, which is the heart of the Wonder Woman story.

Quite unlike those online misogynists who recoil at the thought that women can actually be the stars of an action or comedy film with men firmly in the background.

In an industry where the likes of Sean Connery would insist on making Alan Quatermain the leader of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in the movie version whereas the source comic book material had the woman Mina Harker as its leader (and Quatermain as a washed up opium addict), it’s refreshing to finally see A-list leading men secure enough with their masculinity that they have no issues playing support for the long overdue empowerment of more female leads.

❤️ Hemsworth and Pine! ❤️

Watch out for my full review of Ghostbusters. Hint: it’s awesome.

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