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And All Was Right With the World

Guillermo del Toro Talks About Pacific Rim’s Formidable Female Lead And The Lack of a Love Story


“I was very careful how I built the movie. One of the other things I decided was that I wanted a female lead (Babel’s Rinko Kikuchi) who has the equal force as the male leads. She’s not going to be a sex kitten, she’s not going to come out in cutoff shorts and a tank top, and it’s going to be a real earnestly drawn character…One of the decisions we made as we went along in the process of the movie was, let’s not have a love story. Let’s have a story about two people.” Director Guillermo del Toro on how Pacific Rim deviates from typical summer blockbusters, and how Mako Mori, played by Rinko Kikuchi, will be a formidable, complex character.

Pacific Rim continues to be compared to blockbusters like Transformers, but, if the focus on characters in the most recent commercials wasn’t evidence enough, Guillermo del Toro has set the record strait in his interview with The Star.  Pacific Rim is not a movie set to exploit its female lead or compromise her character any more than it will its male lead, and del Toro stresses that he made decisions at every turn to make sure his Kaiju versus Mecha movie didn’t become just another summer movie. It’s looking more and more like Pacific Rim will focus on adventure and interesting characters, without falling into the glorification of violence and two-dimensional characters that movies like Transformers lead us to expect in our giant-robot-filled summer films. Finally we can watch giant monsters fight Mecha and watch an interesting story unfold!

(via The Star)

Previously in Pacific Rim

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  • John W

    The 12th of July cannot get here soon enough.

  • Ashe

    Yet another reason I’m absolutely thrilled for this movie. And I totally forgot it’s coming out this week, too! SCORE!

    I remember being a little skeptical of the woman potentially being the less-developed, sexy tagalong to the leading man, until I read the above quote in one of his interviews. He’s already aware of the pitfalls that women tend to dive into film-wise, so it gives me some hope we might avoid some of the worst tropes out there.

    I’m fine with some big splashy fun, but even then, some character development and cliche-aversion makes it even funner!

  • Yrro Simyarin

    So why is it that western directors can only write this kind of female lead if she is Asian?

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    I was hoping to hear this… but all the previews I’ve seen of Pacific Rim barely show her. If I wasn’t already following this movie, I wouldn’t know she was a lead.

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    I mean, damn, I haven’t even heard her speak a line. Someone tell me I missed an epic trailer somewhere.

  • RMCoyote

    Argh, I feel like I should be SO EXCITED about this. PoC characters who aren’t stereotypes AND are in the main roles! A kickass female lead who isn’t sexualized! The amazing director!

    But this is where the hole in my geek nature shows because monster wars and robots isn’t a draw for me. Heck, the only reason I was interested enough to go see the first transformers was because I am a sucker for Aliens who aren’t trying to kill us (interest wasn’t enough to send me to the next two). And Gundam Wing because it had mounds of political intrigue.

    If i wasn’t currently broke I would probably go anyway, because it looks like I wouldn’t regret it even though it totally doesn’t ping my ‘OooooOOooh’ button in plot. Maybe after some reviews and seeing awesome gifs I’ll head out.

  • http://arewerobots.libsyn.com/ DarthBetty

    From what I know, directors are often at a loss over control with their trailers. The example I like to give with this is how the Departed gave away a good part of the movie with the trailer and I know Scorsese would NOT have had that happen if he had the option. I hope that this is the case and she actually takes on a larger part.

  • Mina

    I’m so glad to hear this. I was just talking to my brother the other day about how I really hoped they didn’t shoehorn her into a romantic subplot.

  • https://www.facebook.com/OperationHotblood?ref=hl HeroOfGames16

    While I love me some good ol’ romance, I guess it’s for the better. It’s all about hotblooded giant robots beating the living Godzilla out of Kaijus, so there’s not much place for a well developed romance subplot (I rather want no romance at all than a movie that has a crappy romance subplot).

    It’s also nice to see some trope-aversions for a change.
    Anyway, I really look forward to the epic grand summer movie – nay, movie of the year, that goes by the name of PACIFIC RIM!

  • Luna Carya

    I wasn’t expecting any less from Guillermo del Toro.
    And it Irks me that Pacific Rim’s being compared to Transformers.

  • Laura Truxillo

    So let me get this straight–there’s giant robots smashing stuff, GlaDos is voicing the computers, it’s directed by del Toro, one of the leads is a lady…and she DOESN’T have to justify her presence by being in love with the male lead?

    Can I just go get in line now?

  • Foxfire

    Holy crap are you serious? I didn’t even know there was a woman in the show from the trailers (she’s barely shown up at all)

    I’m not going to get excited till after I see it – I’ve been hurt before.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, I was SO disappointed about the last preview I saw. I’m good now

  • Anonymous

    The trailer for this movie looks like the worst mashup of every possible scifi cliché ever thought of. There was so much of everything in there, I was waiting for Betty White to be the female lead. Let’s see if I’ll regret that she isn’t.
    Del Toro has consistently treated his female characters well, even going against the usual genre clichés so I trust him when she says she is a lead. The fact that the studio decided to barely promote the existence even of the character, preferring to sell the “buff” image to their targeted male audience doesn’t necessarily reflect the movie. Although, I’m sure she would have been featured in the trailers if she had been a sex kitten type and/or Megan Fox.

  • Anonymous

    The problem is tricking the audience never works. Because on the one hand, people who are tricked into thinking it’s a mindless action movie for the boys will be bitterly disappointed and people who would have enjoyed the storyline and complexities, will be put off by the silliness of the trailers.

  • Anonymous

    What makes you think her ethnicity has anything to do with who the character is?

  • Anonymous

    It’s being compared to the Transformers because that’s how the studio is trying to sell it: a pimped up better version of the Transformers, with a real director.

  • Yrro Simyarin

    Wow, major negative reaction. This wasn’t meant to be a complaint about:

    1) Female asian characters.

    2) Minority characters in general.

    3) Strong female characters.

    It’s more that I feel that for some reason western authors are much more willing to write this kind of character as an Asian (or occasionally Latina) girl. They are much more reluctant to write this kind of character as a Caucasian girl. And this is really… weird. I don’t think there is or should be an inherent link here…

  • Pink Apocalypse

    I’ve always assumed that it’s due to ‘peripheral sexuality’ in the eyes of white hetero-normative society.

    Modern media (driven almost entirely by WH-N perceptions) relentlessly objectify women and sexualize characters….as a result, most women media deems ‘sexually non-desirable’ or ‘unworthy’ tend to get a better shot at roles with some kind of substance, even if it’s a tired arch-type role. See the ‘wise Black woman’, the ‘fat best friend’, the ‘kindly white matron’. It’s the result of a cocktail of ageism, racism, and sexism.

    Many of the so-called empowered female characters today (some you allude to) are anything but, in my opinion. It’s just a variation of male objectification called the ‘fighting fuck toy’. See anything Jovovich has done for an example.

    Actual, true, empowered, non-objectified female action star characters are very, very rare (see Gurira for an example). But with each film, there’s fresh hope.

  • Anonymous

    Soooo… where to start. SPOILERS!!!!!!

    I saw a free screening of this movie last weekend. Yes, there absolutely is a love story. I dont know how they can get away with saying there isnt. There is absolutely a long sappy too-drawn-out love story that had me rolling my eyes for the last 10 minutes of the movie. I won’t get into the other issues I had with the movie here (there were many). But to claim that there isnt a love story is just flat out DECEITFUL. Its not all up in your face in the beginning, but it is from the middle through the end of the film.

  • Anonymous

    But that’s my point. What makes you think that she was “written” as an Asian character, whatever that means. Casting casts actors. That doesn’t mean that the author has anything to do with the final ethnicity of the on-screen character, unless she is described, named or otherwise qualified as Asian in the script, which we do not know yet.

  • Anonymous

    SPOILERS I’ve seen this film too and feel you’re exaggerating. There is something of a love story, but the film focuses more on the growing bond between comrades aspect. There isn’t even a kiss, just a rather tender embrace. I’ll admit there is some attraction and emotional intimacy too, but nothing beyond what I described ever happens.

  • Nathania Johnson

    It’s definitely written as an Asian character. I saw the film tonight.

  • Nathania Johnson

    SPOILERS I agree that there is a hint of a love interest, though IMHO it was much less than normal, thank goodness. For me the bigger problem was that she was absolutely *not* equal to the male leads. She was also the token Asian lead in a film set in Hong Kong. And there were no other women with more than ~10 lines. I only counted 4 women total with lines, 2 of them day players (<5 lines, very low pay).

  • Anonymous

    SPOILERS A lot of good points. But to be fair, she was the main character’s perfect equal in the sparring match at least. That part made me smile.

  • Pillamelai

    Could you tell me if there is a romance sub-plot? I know this post states otherwise, but I’ve read some reviews, and they all highlight the good chemistry between the male and the female leads.