MGM made an unprecedented move this week and it has to do with their reboot of the Tomb Raider series. They announced that Marti Noxon will pen the action film — and yes, Marti Noxon is a woman. The news that the studio was rebooting the female centric action series was alone great news, but handing the reigns of film over to a female writer is better than anyone expected. And not just any woman either. Noxon has a history with strong female characters, having worked her way up from writer to show runner on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Saying this news is a boon for women in film is an understatement. It’s not often that women are afforded the chance to make their mark on blockbusters, never mind action films. However, what makes this news exciting is that MGM have hired a woman who may finally be able to write a realistic and compelling action heroine. While Buffy is the brainchild of genius Joss Whedon, Noxon was an important element on the series, writing several classic episodes. Her specialty seems to have been walking the line between the action driven and the emotional, which has been lacking in female action characters.
It’s also the kind of line blurring that will be necessary for the reboot as this version of Lara Croft seems to be much more complex than previous ones. When Crystal Dynamic launched the new game, they aimed to bring us a more genuine and authentic Lara.
"Certainly from our perspective, we want to take you on a journey of breaking [Lara] down and then building her back up again," Crystal Dynamic's Karl Stewart said.
They seem to have accomplished this feat, giving Lara a rich backstory, and more importantly, a great foundation for the film that is to follow.
What Noxon is poised to bring is the emotional complexity, conflict, and no holds barred action that was seen in her previous works, and since the end of Buffy has been reserved for male action heroes almost exclusively. While I am a fan of Angelina Jolie’s incarnation of the character, I like many others think there was something missing. Jolie did an admirable job, but the story just wasn’t enough to make Lara anything more than two dimensional. It seems this is a problem for many action heroines. They are either stripped of their femininity altogether or are merely set dressing, at least according to James Cameron. Jolie’s Lara was more than once accused of being sexist, a charge with which I can’t wholly disagree (the short shorts and padded bra speaks for itself).
Perhaps that has more to do with the two men who wrote it than the character. Hopefully in hiring Noxon the new film can avoid the sexist trappings that seem to be ever present when dealing with women and action films. While Lara is a sexy character (and that shouldn’t change) Noxon’s approach isn’t likely to focus on her sexuality — an element the previous films seemed to dwell on, though it’s hard not to with Jolie. And from the controversy that has surrounded the release of the game, it looks as though a woman’s guiding eye is necessary to get this film onto the big screen.
Noxon is poised to bring us the ultimate female superhero because we need her to. Not to put too much pressure on her, but a commercially and critically successful reboot would mean the sceptics can’t claim women driven action films are not appealing to audiences. It would open the door women have been banging on for years, but to little avail. More importantly, it would give the viewing public a realistic yet entertaining heroine to admire and invest in. From the sounds of it this Tomb Raider will be a little Indiana Jones and a little Marvel Superhero. Let’s hope that she will become as iconic as both and give women in film a chance to make their mark on the action genre.