Trailers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story promised all of us an awesome, female-driven Star Wars story. But in the film we noticed there weren’t many other women. Other than Jyn, the film was mostly male. And that’s not unusual for Hollywood films. In fact, across 2016’s biggest movies, women said only 27% of the words in the films.
Amber Thomas of Medium’s freeCodeCamp analyzed the top 10 highest grossing films of 2016. And what she found was shocking. Because, despite awesome female characters like Jyn Erso, Wonder Woman, and Harley Quinn, women are still hugely underrepresented in these blockbuster films.
And unfortunately for Star Wars fans, Rogue One was the worst with only 9% female speaking characters.
We definitely noticed when we saw Rogue One that, while we loved Felicity Jones’ Jyn, she was usually surrounded by men. And according to Amber’s study, those men said 83% of the dialogue (by word count), and women said only 17%. To make things worse, even though Jyn was technically the lead character, she said 310 FEWER words than Diego Luna’s Cassian. And besides Jyn Erso, the only other significant female character is Mon Mothma, who says only 169 words. And there are seven other male characters that say more than that.
Check out Amber’s fabulous interactive graphic to get a great picture of female vs. male characters in the top ten 2016 films.
It should also be noted that of these ten films, only three had any female writers: Fantastic Beasts (J.K. Rowling), Zootopia (two female writers of seven total credited), and Finding Dory (one female writer of four total credits). And none, that’s right, NONE, featured a female director. The writers, directors, and other creatives help mold and shape a film, so if there aren’t enough women represented in those stages, it’s unlikely women will be well-represented in the finished product.
While we love some of these badass lady characters, we still need to work on this issue that women’s representation is SO disproportionate.
Superhero movies are perhaps the best test for this, because many of them are meant to be an ensemble. Captain America: Civil War, for example, has both male and female superheroes. But only 28% of the characters are female, and the female characters say only 16% of the dialogue. Similarly in Suicide Squad, we saw tons of cool female stars, but when you break down the numbers, it’s a bummer. Women made up only 22% of the characters in Suicide Squad, and they said only 32% of the dialogue.
Only Finding Dory feature more than 50% female dialogue, and NONE of the films made it to 50% female characters.
That’s right, Finding Dory featured 53% female dialogue, and was the only one to break that barrier. But in both Finding Dory and Zootopia, the largest spoken part belonged to a female lead character. It’s clear that there’s still a lot of work to be done in getting women represented on film. And we will keep pushing to ensure that female characters get just as much screen time as their male co-stars.