I loved The Mummy franchise growing up — except 3. I never saw 3 and I don’t know anyone who liked it.
I’ve always loved The Mummy because it’s a combination of all my favorite things: action, adventure, magic, comedy, and romance.
I love those sorts of stories, so those are the stories I write. But today I realized that Evelyn’s character (as well as the lore of the series) was actually ruined for me by the sequel. (I honestly think they went too far with the reincarnation crap in the second film, but that’s me.)
Don’t get me wrong. The Mummy 2 is hilarious and I actually love it. It’s okay to love things that are problematic, so long as we can recognize that they’re problematic without turning into assholes and attacking people who don’t agree with us that our favoritest movie is utterly infallible.
So what’s wrong with The Mummy 2? Eve’s femininity is handwaved in favor of masculinity.
I . . . hate that.
It sends a message that femininity is bad, wrong, and inferior. To gain cool points, women have to kick ass? Um . . . how about no?
Evelyn basically went from this:
Goofy librarian who makes things go boom.
A kick ass reincarnated princess who can suddenly fight better than Rick????
To be honest, the fight scenes are some of the best parts of The Mummy 2, but I can’ just imagine the writers sitting around going, “Man, Eve is pretty worthless. She’s so feminine and inferior. Let’s make her strong and masculine! Let’s make her a reincarnated princess who can kick ass!”
I mean . . . When is being feminine going to be a good thing? When is it going to be okay to not know how to fight? When will it be okay for women to wear dresses and be soft and feminine without someone shaking their head going, “Man, she’s weak! Time to toughen her up!”
Because that’s exactly what they did to Evelyn. And you know what? Evelyn was already strong.
That’s right. Evelyn was already a strong female character!
Being feminine didn’t make Evelyn weak because — shock! horror! — masculinity is not the only valid state of existence! Evelyn’s strengths rested in her intelligence and bravery. She was very smart and very brave and very kindhearted. From a moral standpoint, she was one of the best people in the first film. When the mummy rises, she’s one of the few people who actually wants to stay and stop it, while all the big strong men are running away. Evelyn’s strength of character is what makes her a strong female character.
Masculinity is not required for a female character to be strong.
Evelyn is also not a sexist caricature who exists solely to further the story arc of a male character. Evelyn is a character on her own. She is not a plot device or eye candy. She doesn’t exist to keep teenage boys invested.
Notice how Evelyn is absolutely beautiful throughout the film without being objectified? She is stunning, and we don’t constantly need to see her tits and ass to know it. Men: learn the difference.
Evelyn is portrayed as a human being, which is the second thing that made her a strong female character in the first film.
The entire movie happened because of Evelyn. She wasn’t a side character or a prize or a background decoration. Evelyn was a well-rounded, three-dimensional, fully fleshed out female character. She did not exist for the benefit of the men. In fact, a lot of the men in the film existed to make her interesting, such as Jonathan or Mr. Burns.
Evelyn in the first film was and continues to be — sadly — an anomaly in fiction, especially in film.
Look what happens by the second movie. Evelyn is wearing pants, she’s kicking ass. Why? Because being feminine wasn’t enough. She had to be masculine to be remotely interesting. It was sad to see that happen to her. Because I loved that she was realistically a goofy, clumsy, dork in the first film. She was someone I could relate to and self-insert on. Then we get to the second film, and she’s just yet another clueless man’s attempt to be a feminist.
It’s not character growth. It’s someone trying to be a feminist and failing.
In my series The Prince of Qorlec, Thalcu is a feminine princess who doesn’t know how to fight. And you know what? She never will. Thalcu wears dresses and jewelry and hates violence and still manages to contribute to the plot in meaningful ways that demonstrate her strength.
Because a woman doesn’t have to know how to fight with big guns and be sexed up in skimpy clothing to be valuable as a human being.
“Strong female character” does not mean “masculine.”
Why couldn’t Evelyn have just stayed this way: