Summer Glau puts up a fight in the film 'Serenity,' a spin-off of the TV show 'Firefly.' (Sidney Baldwin)
Suddenly Hollywood is hot for female action heroes.
Too bad it doesn’t have many proven veterans from which to draw.
This week a film called “The ExpendaBelles” was announced. It’s going to be produced by Sylvester Stallone and is apparently intended as a companion franchise to “The Expendables” movies (a third one is due in August, since “The Expendables 2” made $305 million worldwide).
There’s only one problem. “The Expendables” cast was able to draw on a long, long list of aging and current action heroes — Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, etc.
“The ExpendaBelles” doesn’t have a pool that deep. In truth it has at most a puddle.
There are only two fully bankable female action stars. Angelina Jolie, who hasn’t really done straight-up action since 2010’s “Salt” and probably remains the most in-demand female star on earth.
And Jennifer Lawrence, who already has two major action franchises — “The Hunger Games” and “X-Men” — and is probably the second most in-demand female star on earth.
These ladies don’t need the work, thank you.
There is one bonafide female action star from the ’80s — Linda Hamilton, who rocked “The Terminator” movies. Unfortunately, she’s rumored to be tied to another female “Expendables”-like movie that also stars Katee Sackhoff from “Battlestar Galactica” and martial arts whirlwind Gina Carano (“Haywire”), two other obvious choices when it comes to gals mixing it up.
That puddle keeps shrinking. Because who in Hollywood ever thought women could bring in crowds as action heroes? Well, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” just passed $860 million worldwide, so they’re thinking it now.
Luckily, there are plenty of women who might jump — or punch — at the chance. Especially if “The ExpendaBelles” turns out to have a comic edge (it’s being written and directed by the team that made “Legally Blonde”). They may not be established as action stars, but they can probably make the transition.
First off, Joss Whedon’s TV shows always featured strong women. Eliza Dushku (“Dollhouse,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) is an obvious choice, as is Summer Glau (“Firefly”).
Michelle Rodriguez (“Avatar,” “Fast & Furious”) always seems to be up for this stuff and Carrie-Anne Moss (“The Matrix”) doesn’t seem to mind shooting guns.
But the franchise is going to need at least a couple of bigger, more veteran names. Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu both pulled off the “Charlie’s Angels” movies. Sigourney Weaver powered the “Alien” franchise.
Geena Davis certainly has the athleticism (check her out in “The Long Kiss Goodnight”), and she’s all about empowering women in film.
But the one person the people behind this film need to start hounding immediately isn’t really known for many action roles. Just one, really. In it she plucked out an eye, sliced her way through dozens of people, stretched a tongue and killed her lover-mentor-enemy.
No women has ever been more deadly on screen than The Bride in “Kill Bill Vol. I” and “Kill Bill Vol. II.” Uma Thurman should lead “The ExpendaBelles.”
And even if not, somebody needs to put a sword back in her hands. Let her lead the charge of the coming female action heroes.