Elizabeth Banks Brings Feminist Flare to “Charlie’s Angels” Reboot

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“Good morning, Angels.” “Good morning, Charlie!” The call-and-response quote known by so many capped off the trailer for Elizabeth Banks’ new, feminist reboot of Charlie’s Angels.

If you’ve never seen Charlie’s Angels, either the two films from 2000 or the 70s TV show that preceded it, you might not get the hype that’s burst up around Banks’ new take on the series. The campy spy-thriller reboot can best be described as “James Bond meets Ocean’s 11,” with an all-female cast of kickass fighters, hackers, and saboteurs.

The Angels franchise has some understandably bad connotations though, particularly among feminist critics. The original show garnered 5 seasons in the 1970s and has enjoyed continued appeal among long-time fans, but the 2000 reboot was an absolute flop, getting half a star out of five from Roger Ebert and a 5.5/10 on IMDB. Its 2003 sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, did even worse.

It isn’t hard to see why; on the surface, something about a den of sexy all-female spies living together at the beck-and-call of an older gentlemanly handler seems very Playmate-ish, even when the girls are the lead stars. For most non-fans, the franchise was written off a long time ago as a product of its time, and not thought of again.

Elizabeth Banks wants to change that impression, though, and so does Producer Max Handelman, who explained the challenges and goals behind keeping the upcoming film a part of Angels canon while also updating it for the 21st Century.


“40-plus years ago, a small detective agency was formed with three women who were all underestimated, invisible, not given the proper opportunities,” Handelman said, “and from that the agency grew to 2018, where we are today, and what has happened since.”

To Banks and co, Angels has a clear opportunity to work with its original intention, that being a series that empowers women by acknowledging their place in the world and showing them use that to their advantage. But in 2019, that place has changed for the better.

And Banks reflects that with her own supporting role as one of the film’s three Bosleys, or handlers for the Angels (the other two being played by veteran actors Djimon Hounsou and Sir Patrick Stewart).

According to Handelman, Banks’ role in the film is an important symbol, evocative of a woman’s role in the workplace not ending when her “field work” is checked in and, on a more societal level, when her appeal to the male gaze has faded.

“Once you’re done being an Angel you’re not just done. So her character’s graduated or been promoted to becoming Bosley.”


Banks also has no interest in giving audiences what she calls the “obligatory training montage”; the explanation, or possibly justification, for why female characters are badass and capable in a film.

“They just are. Ethan Hunt […] just is. When you first meet Jason Bourne, he just is a total badass. So when you meet [stars Kristen Stewart and Ella Balinksa], they’re just trained, badass women.”

Added, “We don’t have to prove to you why they are who they are,” which seems to be a pointed jab at the armchair critics shouting “Mary Sue” at female leads from Star Wars to the recent Ocean’s 8 revival, which shares a lot in common with Banks’ film.

Finally, Banks is intent on playing down the tropes of seductresses and love entanglements. While she believes feminism is “baked into the DNA” of the Angels’ franchise, those older stories relied heavily on the leads sleeping their way into the enemy’s good graces.

“We play with that trope and then we dismiss it pretty early on in the movie,” Banks said. “The women in this film use their brains and their wits. We had a mantra which was we are going to fight smarter, not harder.”

As for the romance side of things, Banks claims the focus is elsewhere, but some homage is paid. The premiere trailer shows Balinska’s character flirting and being called out on it in a lighthearted moment, but to hear Banks describe the film, that may be all we get in the romance department. In fact, Balinska describes her relationship with this character (played by Noah Centineo) as more of a “brother-sister” dynamic.

We’ll have to see exactly how well this combination of old feminist flare and new feminist aesthetic clicks, when Charlie’s Angels drops on November 15th.

Are you excited to see Kristen Stewart and Elizabeth Banks in the Charlie’s Angels revival? What do you think of the first trailer? Check out our video coverage of this story, and let us know in the comments!

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