Michelle Rodriguez made a gutsy move by demanding more for the blockbuster franchise’s female characters.
According to Box Office Mojo, The Fate of the Furious has, as of June 26, grossed upwards of $1 billion worldwide. Combined, the Fast and Furious franchise’s eight films have earned more than $5 billion worldwide. The Fast films are some of the most popular among moviegoers all around the world. So, something must be really wrong if star Michelle Rodriguez is thinking about walking away.
And she didn’t just air her grievances: Rodriguez also hinted that she’ll leave the Fast franchise unless things change.
"“F8 is out digitally today, I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one. Or I just might have to say goodbye to a loved franchise.”"
Letty, Rodriguez’s character, made her first appearance in 2001’s flagship The Fast and the Furious. Since then, she has reprised her role in four of the seven Fast sequels. After 16 years, the actress obviously knows her character — and every other character — inside and out. By now, she’s definitely familiar with the movies’ formula: (Car Races + Explosions + Family + Villain) – Subtlety = $$$. Letty and the films’ other women do get in on the action, but the male leads get much more screen time and story to work with.
With a decade and a half of good work under her belt, I don’t blame Rodriguez for wanting female characters to participate more in the equation’s Car Races and Explosions — and a little less in the Family portion. In fact, I think it’s pretty ballsy of her to acknowledge Fast‘s issues with women, voice her concerns, and consider giving up the high-profile and mountains of cash the franchise has provided over the years.
It might seem like a novel idea, but women like action flicks and go to action flicks. You don’t need Wonder Woman‘s Lasso of Truth to figure that out. I won’t deny that Fast and the Furious is geared towards male audiences. But that doesn’t automatically mean women are uninterested.
Women comprise 51 percent of the population, and the MPAA reports that they represented 52 percent of all moviegoers and bought 50 percent of all movie tickets in 2016. Yet only 24 percent of the highest-grossing films that year were led by female characters.
Rodriguez is right. Big budget films like Fast and the Furious need complex female characters. The franchise needs prominent ones that get to do more than tag along for the ride or remind the male characters about their morality. Male viewers aren’t responsible for the Fast franchise’s entire $5 billion; women pitched in, too. So Rodriguez’s desire for more for Letty and her female co-stars to do isn’t only reasonable, it’s sensible. It’s what the audience deserves.