A debate is brewing about whether ‘toon hitmakers Pixar are unfairly focusing on male heroes for their films.
Both sides are arguing their case, and while all the leads from the team’s movies are unquestionably male, they haven’t skimped on great female characters. Let’s look at the list...
The Girl: Bo Peep, Toy Story (1995)
Why They're Great: Bo Peep is traditionally limited to the old nursery rhyme about the muddy-headed shepherdess who can’t keep track of a few sheep.
When everyone knows sheep are pretty stupid and generally roam about eating and bleating and not doing much else.
But in Toy Story, John Lasseter and co give her a twist as a toy – she’s headstrong, the voice of reason and a credible love interest for Woody (Tom Hanks). And she’s a take-charge kind of gal – using her crook to grab the lad when she’s after a little alone time.
How It Would've Been Different If They Were A Bloke: We worry that without a balancing, level-headed female around to curb their wilder instincts, the toys would turn into a Lord Of The Flies-style pack and roast Buzz on arrival just to see his smug plastic face melt.
Children everywhere: traumatised. It would be funny, though.
Next: Princess Atta
The Girl: Princess Atta & Dot, A Bug’s Life (1998)
Why They're Great: Yeah, she’s a Princess. But Atta is still in line to rule her entire colony and she barely tolerates the slack-planning Flik (Dave Foley) before he returns to save the place. And even when he does, she’s right there helping out.
Oh, and she’s voiced by Seinfeld’s Julia Louis Dreyfuss, so she’s funny with it.
Dot, meanwhile, is a kick-ass, adventure-hungry sprite with a take-no-crap attitude. What young girl wouldn’t want to be like her?
Except for the short lifespan of an insect, of course.
How It Would've Been Different If They Were A Bloke: Atta would long have overthrown Phyllis Diller’s elderly queen in a blood-fuelled coup.
When Hopper and co turn up, Atta would launch an all-out attack, resulting in massive ant casualties, turning the movie into a metaphor for the Iraq War and giving American windbag pundits something to talk about for months.
It would still be better than Antz. Eat it, Woody Allen.
The Girl: Jessie, Toy Story 2 (1999)
Why They're Great: Livewire cowgirl Jessie (voiced by the equally lively Joan Cusack) is the perfect companion for Woody, even though they don’t actually end up together (she takes a liking to Buzz).
Good-hearted and courageous where it counts, she’s no second fiddle and, after she’s betrayed by Prospector Pete, is only too happy to deliver justice.
How It Would've Been Different If They Were A Bloke: Brokeback Toys ‘R’ Us.
Children everywhere: confused. Parents everywhere: astonished.
The Girl: Roz, Monsters, Inc (2001)
Why They're Great: Roz rocks.
She’s as tough as old boots, and refuses to let her colleagues (especially the Billy Crystal-voiced Mike Wazowski) get away with anything. And that’s before she’s revealed to be the head of one of the most important forces in Monstropolis – the Child Detection Agency.
She’s like something out of a Bruckheimer film, only better written.
How It Would've Been Different If They Were A Bloke: Since Roz is pretty much the most masculine, commanding character in the film, nothing would change at all.
Well, Mike probably wouldn’t try flirting with the male Roz.
He’d try sports talk or something.
The Girl: Dory, Finding Nemo (2003)
Why They're Great: Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) is the sort friend you want by your side at all times – funny, loyal and, when the chips are down, this fish is brave.
Sure, she has memory issues, but she gets a healthy chunk of the plot and is a big part of helping reunite Marlin (Albert Brooks) with his pesky, wayward sprat sprog.
Oh, and she speaks whale. Sort of.
How It Would've Been Different If They Were A Bloke: Nemo the movie would have been a much more traditional buddy comedy, and therefore fairly unspectacular.
Dory likely wouldn’t have bothered to help and Nemo would be in Darla’s clutches, doomed to a short, painful life in a tiny tank with only a plastic diver for company.
Next: Helen Parr
The Girl: Helen Parr / Elastigirl, The Incredibles (2004)
Why They're Great: Helen Parr ( Holly Hunter) is more than a match for her often bumbling, yet super-strong husband, Bob.
We see her in the opening segment handily taking out criminals and then, after she’s settled down and raised a family, goes right back to kicking arse when they’re in danger.
Plus, she ends up sticking with the superhero life at the end.
How It Would've Been Different If They Were A Bloke: We love Elastigirl – she’s surely a solid, if stretchy, role model.
But if she were a man, the Parrs’ union would probably be illegal in several states. Wonder what Metroville policy is on gay marriage?
Hopefully, as superheroes, they’d be able to push for changes to the law. By, you know, throwing cars at politicians and stuff.
The Girl: Colette, Ratatouille (2007)
Why They're Great: She’s a woman surviving and thriving in a male-dominated world – the high-pressure, ultra-ego-fuelled kitchen of a fancy French restaurant.
And more than that, she’s better at her job than most of her colleagues. Plus she rides a cool motorbike.
True, she eventually goes a bit dreamy-eyed at Linguini, but she soon snaps out of it once she realises the truth about his ability.
How It Would've Been Different If They Were A Bloke: Ratatouille would be more like Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares with a little less swearing but a lot more French people.
And we doubt Remy would survive long after he gets shoved into an oven and roasted alive.
The Girl: EVE, Wall-E (2008)
Why They're Great: She’s slinky, sexy and modelled after an iPod, so she’s guaranteed the geek vote, even though she’s a robot.
Dedicated, strong and smart, she’s light years ahead of poor, slow Wall-E.
Plus, how many women do you know equipped with a powerful blaster in one arm?
How It Would've Been Different If They Were A Bloke: Considering that most of the “male” ‘Bots in Wall-E’s world were either conspiratorial (AUTO), neurotic (MO) or stupid (the security droids), the film would be more of a Three Stooges-style comedy.
So more like Short Circuit, then. And that means Steve Guttenberg would replace Fred Willard. Run away!
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