The following is a statement that I wrote regarding the new Ghostbusters movie. It isn't terribly preachy; it is far, far too late to have any impact on the movie's negative critics. But these past few years have meant a lot to me, and this, in part, is why:
***For some reason, people expect to read things on the interwebz re: upcoming media they'd like to consume, and get super surprised at the SPOILERS***
I loved the new Ghostbusters movie (GB2016) for the same reason that I cried at Star Wars Episode 7 (SW7):
Because women weren't doing it the "girl" way: they did the work, succeeded because they were intelligent, strong, dedicated, and powerful.
I cried twice during GB2016: first when McKinnon was dual-wielding vs. ghosts in the fog while the modern orchestral version of the title piece crescendoed; the second at the end of the movie, just before the credits clips rolled. It wasn't quite the uncontrollable sobbing for ten minutes when Rey finally treks up my future private island to present herself for Skywalker's tutelage, and the helicopter camera does a pair of 360* turns as a 12,000 piece orchestra plays the Star Wars theme....
You know: because it's a comedy. But the emotional catharsis was there. The theme of women being powerful because they're *powerful* was there. McCarthy's "Spy" (2015) was the same. I'm the first to admit that I expected Spy to be a slapstick parody on the Bourne and Bond movies--and I was completely wrong! Some of the parody tropes were present (e.g. Statham's tantum in fabula immortal), but the primary theme of that movie was egalitarianism. And, like many women, McCarthy's character is actually strong as a fucking berzerker rage ork. McCarthy and Jones showed off that physical strength in GB2016. (Fun fact: Leslie Jones is just over an inch taller than I am! :} ) Because mass resists force just as muscle applies it. This has been true of male actors for a century! Of *course* it makes sense for Dwayne Johnson to be an action hero; the guy picks up other guys by their scrawny heads, and shakes them until they surrender. And women can do that too.
Many have criticized GB2016 for 'forcing' female actresses into previously-male roles. You missed the point. It's not about remaking our '80s favorites with a female cast. It's about telling those classic stories from our perspective--not sexual, not weak, not different. The same. Egalitarian.
I wonder if people need women to star in our old action movies. E.g. reimagining "Dredd" 2012; retelling "Total Recall" 2012; a new "Mad Max: Fury Road" story 2015. Character development of these star characters was very limited in the '80s versions of these movies. At the time, male stereotypes were cold, focused, and detached. The only character development in those scripts came during the interaction of the male leads and female supports. Every one of these new movies are better than their '80s equivalents, in no small part because the female leads can now dominate character development. They tell stories. They *feel*. And because they feel, they feel human, they feel like real people.
They feel like me, and in turn, I can feel like them.