It’s long been a staple of movies that men seek revenge when some tragedy befalls them. Think of films like Death Wish, where the killing of the main character’s entire family sends him over the edge into vigilantism. The system is always failing white men, who then have to take matters into their own hands.
That such stories have been so common for so long is at least in part responsible for some of the societal problems we face today. These aggrieved white men tried to be good but were forced to go outside the law by the politically correct socialists who want to rehabilitate people instead of jail them and refuse to shoot someone on sight before they are allowed due process in a judicial system awash in corrupt judges and slimy prosecutors.
You can see how that would, when taken along with everything else, add to someone’s burgeoning victim complex, causing them to see everyone in authority along with anyone who doesn’t look like them and share their anger to be seen as the enemy.
Recently, more female characters have been allowed to take on roles that see them seizing power for themselves, often by exacting some level of revenge on those who have wronged them.
Consider a few examples.
Widows (2018) – Four women come together to pay off the debts left behind when their criminal husbands are killed or disappear, plotting a major heist that will allow them to control their own destiny.
Peppermint (2018) – After her husband and child are killed, a woman returns to take down the organized criminals responsible since the justice system was unwilling or unable to do so years ago.
The Hustle (2019) – Two female con artists work together to take down the men who have wronged them – and others like them – over the years
The Kitchen (2019) – Three women are left on the edge of collapse when their husbands are sent to prison, finding the key to survival involves becoming criminals themselves, seizing more power than their husbands ever dreamed of.
Hustlers (2019) – Tired of having to scramble and compromise, a group of night club dancers set out to turn the tables on the Wall Street bros who have everything while they worry about making enough for food and rent.
On that list you’ll find story elements common to the male-centric movies of both the past and present, as well as the future. So it’s not that anything new is generally being done here, it’s just the women are finally being given some agency in their own lives beyond “suffering wife who encourages her husband to go out there and get the son of a bitch who did this” or “helpless woman who has to enlist the aid of male hero cop who will help her finally find justice.”
What’s unfortunate is that these movies are finally arriving at a time when non-franchise blockbusters are tanking left and right at the theatrical box office. Of the three that have already finished their release lifecycle, Widows was the most successful with $42 million domestically. The Kitchen performed poorly in its opening weekend and Hustlers’ fate is uncertain due to the financial problems reportedly plaguing Annapurna Pictures.
While there’s a bigger issue of movies that glorify vigilantes and criminals as empowering and justified, that women are finally able to take on these roles themselves is a marked step forward. Let’s hope there are more of them to come, whether they hit theaters, Netflix or other distribution, so that women see they can take charge of themselves and are allowed to feel emotions every bit as deep and sometimes troubling as men have long been free to.