Disney rightfully scaled back on Calvin as a "hero" in "A Wrinkle In Time" — and good, because that's Meg's job
For many young women out there, the first time encountering a female protagonist — let alone, a female hero — was reading through the pages of A Wrinkle In Time. Meg Murry is an incredibly relatable character, and even though the story was first published back in 1962, her journey to rescue her father, and along the way really rescue herself, is one that continues to deeply resonate with audiences.
Disney’s new movie, A Wrinkle In Time, very much follows that same vein: Girl questions herself and her decisions, girl realizes that she’s worth way more than what she believes, girl ends up saving the day and becomes the hero she was all along. Meg Murry (played by newcomer Storm Reid) shines as young Meg, and while yes, in the end *she’s* the one who saves the day, she doesn’t do it all alone. Along for her travel through time and space, Meg’s got her younger brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), along with her new friend/budding crush, Calvin. (Levi Miller).
The easiest way to describe Calvin is to call him Meg’s “sidekick,” since the story isn’t about him saving the day; it’s about Meg. That’s actually something that was discussed early on when planning the film adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time, because, originally, producers considered giving Calvin more to do in the movie, and forging him into a “hero” role, too.
But thankfully, that did not happen. HelloGiggles sat down with Wrinkle’s screenwriter, Jennifer Lee — who is also behind such Disney classics like Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, and Zootopia — and couldn’t help but bring up the best line in the movie, and one that really sums up the relationship between young Meg and Calvin. At the very end when Calvin tells Meg, “You did it,” and Meg replies, “I sure did.” That’s very much what Lee was going for throughout the movie: Calvin taking a back burner to Meg in order to fully support her.
“[That quote] was amazing, and it was really great the way Disney embraced the conversations we had [about Meg and Calvin] and the instinct of the go-to [hero] being the male character, and how much there were early conversations of giving Calvin more,” Lee explained. She was certainly willing to flesh out more of a story for Calvin, and change his struggle at home from a mother to a father, but everything else still had to be about Meg. “I’m like I’ll do that, but when it comes to the journey, let’s work past our comfort zone and let the female be the hero. Let the young girl be the hero and everyone embraced that.”
Keeping Meg as hero of the story was never a problem behind the scenes, as all Lee was trying to do was capture the truth of the young girl’s struggle.
“There was never a moment where I felt pulled back from the things we wanted to push [with Meg] and say this is true,” Lee continued. “Women fight their own battles and they fight them often without support, and so let’s show the triumphs that they can achieve. Everyone was supportive of that, which was great. There’s the truth I want. I always want to write with truth, and [write female characters] who also have the great obstacles put in their way.”
As for Calvin, he’s not the one who can take credit for saving the day, but he still has his own journey, one that Lee was keen to get into the film as well.
“Levi embraced [the character], and Calvin has a wonderful role to play in this but he doesn’t have to be the hero…It’s not that I want to diminish the male characters in stories, but often they don’t get the support they need either. I think I’m always going to keep going to those truths, and to things that inspire me. I can’t see a world where I’m not supporting a character that way, male or female, in terms of the journey. That’s the true journey they have to have.”
Meg Murry herself, Storm Reid, echoes this same thinking, explaining to HelloGiggles that Calvin’s support and sheer belief in her definitely shapes both their characters,
“I feel like Meg and Calvin have such a beautiful connection and at the beginning of the movie. Meg, of course, secretly wants to be friends with Calvin, and wants to have a connection with him. Through their journey she’s finding herself and loving herself more…and when she gets home, and she did achieve this beautiful thing, he knew that she could do it all along. She just had to make that realization for herself…and it was really moving for her and him. Because she was like, ‘Yeah, I did, and you believed in me the whole time.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I told you so.’”
A young boy supporting a young girl, because he knows *she’s* the best one for the job — and the best one to save the entire universe from the forces of evil? More movies like this, please. A Wrinkle In Time is now in theaters.