Disclaimer: I'm on some meds that have a me a bit out-of-sorts just currently. So pardon me if this doesn't make a lick of sense.
Over at Observations of the Fox, Mr. Wenman bemoans the lack of female-lead nerdtastic action/adventureentertainment and toy tie-ins. Being a not-quite-powerful-and-influential member of the blogosphere, I have some friends who would desperately like to be movers-and-shakers in the Hollywood scene. And they fairly consistently point to a glass ceiling/glass floor dichotomy in how women are treated in popular entertainment. For while, yes, Arwen must now wield a sword and be the one who carries Frodo in the chase to the ford, and the engineer or hot-shot pilot must now be a tough-as-nails or ice-princess woman, the leads must still be male. The successful woman must still be defined by her relationship to a guy. If two female characters are alone and chatting on the screen, they must be talking about a guy.
And this isn't likely to change. As movies go international (if there's ever a “John Carter” sequel, it'll be because of the international audience), as the tastes of the American public continue to diverge and broaden, the fabled Taste Makers have become befuddled Taste Chasers. What does the American public want? Nobody seems to know, and that's not even tackling the Russian public or the Chinese public, or the French public or... So is it any wonder that the people who are risking their own cash swerve towards conservative, tried-and-true options at every decision gate?
There is some grounds for hope. We will get sequels to “The Hunger Games” and there's a chance that Joss Whedon might get a freebie from the studios after “The Avengers.” I don't buy toys and I don't understand that market, but it does seem to me that the gender bifurcation there is a defensive crouch as well. How does that market even work without the solid, five-hour block of Saturday morning cartoons they had when I was a kid? Is everything movie tie-ins now? LEGO certainly seems to have gone that route.
Hollywood is trying to give us decent sci-fi (and is almost succeeding; “Prometheus” I am so looking at you), which is more than I expected from them. Maybe they'll drag the toy manufacturers with them? In the meantime, however, the day when there's one of these in every home can't come fast enough.