Back in 2014, I argued that Anna Kendrick was a half-step away from getting the full Anne Hathaway treatment. I defined said treatment then as "a celebrity suddenly drowning in social-media hatred due to perceived irksome behavior," in line with how thoroughly loathed Hathaway had become in the wake of her Oscar win.
Against all odds, I was wrong. Kendrick dodged a full Hathaway, stayed on top and remains one of our freshest movie stars. She's arguably more popular (take one look at her incredibly engaged Twitter audience) than ever. Now, she's the type who can get everyone buzzing over just talking about playing a Marvel superhero.
In an interview in Net-a-Porter magazine, Kendrick said her brother sent her a Marvel comic — a Squirrel Girl comic, specifically — and suggested she play the character. "I don't know what Squirrel Girl does other than be half squirrel, but I could be half squirrel!" she said.
It's the kind of comment that, had Kendrick fallen the way of Hathaway, would have driven everyone mad. Instead, it set off a wave of cheers.
Kendrick plus Squirrel Girl seems like a fun fit. Unlike Brie Larson, who's a bit too early into her career to submit to the Marvel machine, Kendrick is in the right place and the right time. Why not do a Marvel movie, especially one with as short a shelf life as Squirrel Girl? (Even for the studio that made Ant-Man a hit, more than one Squirrel Girl movie feels like a stretch.)
But the enthusiasm over Kendrick's off-hand quote isn't really about her playing Squirrel Girl — not entirely, at least. Stars talk about potential roles all the time without generating the level of press this tiny comment made. No, this is about something much more frustrating: There still hasn't been a modern superhero movie dedicated to a female character.
What is it going to take? How many Saturday Night Live skits parodying the lack of female-focused superhero movies, or actresses talking about wanting to play superheroes, will it take?
Movies starring women make more money. This is an incredibly easy win for the comic book movie studios, with several ready-made heroes at both Marvel and DC's footsteps (Black Widow! Storm!). It's baffling that all they have to show are Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman, which are scheduled for 2019 and 2017, respectively. Meanwhile, as they wait for more than one female heroine, fans can see a third standalone Wolverine movie, a third Thor movie, or yet another reboot of Spider-Man.
Audiences are reacting wildly to Kendrick merely mentioning playing a minor superhero because female superheroes are something they're desperate to see. Yes, Kendrick would make for a delightful Squirrel Girl, but the film world doesn't really need a Squirrel Girl movie. Really, this is an audience crying out for a major blockbuster — any major blockbuster — starring a woman.
Marvel and DC would be wise to listen. We need more female heroes. These movies make boatloads of money, and thus reach huge audiences. Girls looking for themselves in superhero films should be able to find role models. It's a smart choice, both in audience impact and financial gain.
So no, you probably won't see "Squirrel Girl, Starring Anna Kendrick" on your local movie marquee. But hopefully, Kendrick talking about it will lead to more female heroes on that marque instead. If anyone's off-hand comment could really effect change, it would be Kendrick's.