Earlier this year speculation arose that Man of Steel might be genderswapping Jimmy Olsen. There’s no Jimmy in the movie, the theory goes, but there is a Jenny Olsen, and she’s seen in the trailer running away from an explosion with Perry White, which would seem to suggest that she has something to do with the Daily Planet. After that initial rush of “OMG they might genderswap Jimmy Olsen, that would be so cool!,” the whole thing kind of died down.
Until now. If this new detail we’ve seen is true, you can count that rumor as…
[possible spoilers behind the cut, unmarked]
The information comes courtesy ScreenCrush, which posted several new Man of Steel pics this morning, one of them of White (Laurence Fishburne) and Olsen (Rebecca Buller). Along with the pics there’s this (emphasis mine):
“…there are still a lot of ‘Man of Steel’ surprises in store. One of those surprises is the confirmation below that Clark Kent’s longtime pal and Daily Planet colleague Jimmy Olsen has been replaced by Jenny Olsen (played by Rebecca Buller). Jenny is reportedly not a straight genderswap of Jimmy Olsen but instead is described as his sister (but if she’s replacing Jimmy in the film, then isn’t it essentially just a genderswap?).”
Now, we don’t know where they got their information or how accurate it is. Jenny being Jimmy’s sister isn’t confirmed, but as things stand now Jenny-as-Jimmy isn’t looking likely. Like ScreenCrush says, if Jenny’s replacing Jimmy it is, effectively, a genderswap—so why the extra step of making Jenny Jimmy’s sister? If you want Jimmy’s role in the film to be filled by a woman, then just make Jimmy a woman. Jeez louise, it’s not that hard.
That said, maybe the reason for the sister thing is that they’re holding Jimmy in reserve for a sequel? But if they’re going to bring Jimmy in anyway I see no reason for inventing the sister character. Maybe there is one. Maybe this all makes sense and David S. Goyer, who wrote the screenplay, has a really good reason for what looks on the surface like his completely unnecessary creation of a brand new character because he wanted Jimmy, but a lady.
I’m still going to send a side-eye Goyer’s way while listening to sad music in memoriam of Man of Steel‘s lost genderswap opportunity, though.