I’ll admit it. I was disappointed with Rachel Weisz’s character, Dr. Marta Shearing, in The Bourne Legacy (2012). Weisz is a terrific actor. In Legacy, she plays a character who is weak. It didn’t make sense to me because Weisz brings a strong presence to all her roles. It’s who she is as an actor and as a human being. It also didn’t make sense in terms of her character. Female doctors have come a long way, but have to complete rigorous training then still face bias. I’m not saying it’s impossible but it’s challenging for female MDs to be Perils of Pauline stand-ins. Even in the face of Jeremy Renner’s well sculpted biceps.
When I left the theater, I realized that my objections to these kind of characters are actually very complex.
Certainly, there is nothing wrong with writing about weak female characters. They exist. But there is something very wrong with constructing a(nother) two dimensional stereotype. In movies, there still aren’t enough female characters or enough diversity in their characterization (age, range, gender, size, orientation, etc.). It puts those who care about these things in the awkward position of putting unfair weight on individual movies like Legacy, since it’s very difficult to figure out how to address the broader problem.
There’s the rub.