In a rumor that chills the hearts of movie buffs and other multi-celled organisms everywhere, MTV UK is reporting (via The Sun) that Megan Fox has been cast as Catwoman in the next Batman movie.
I know; it made me ill, too. Try breathing into a paper bag for a second. I’ll wait.
Now, take heart: the chances of this actually happening are slim. Every dark-haired actress in Hollywood has been rumored as the next Catwoman (I’m Team Rachel Weisz, by the way), and Megan Fox is in general a lightning rod for casting gossip. Since her talents (both of them) first came to fame in Transformers, Fox has been rumored to be in the running for Wonder Woman, a Bond girl, Fathom, Hack/Slash, and Buffy, so if she got even half the roles she was rumored to have, she’d be busy for a good long while—too busy to thrust her way onto the Batman set. (I hope.)
However, this rumor is indicative of deeper issues, in which Megan Fox is a convenient cipher.
It’s no surprise that Fox is famous entirely for being hot, and seems to be happily aware of the fact that her castings are based on looks and not on talent. It’s something that no one pretends to deny; Michael Bay has admitted that Megan Fox’s audition for Transformers involved her coming over to his house and washing his Ferrari as he filmed it. (You keep it classy, Bay.)
This list of casting rumors is therefore much more interesting (and more suspect) than the norm, because it means that despite a general consensus that she can’t act, Fox has transcended her supporting roles in Transformers and Jonah Hex and is now being regarded as the kind of star who can open a big-budget movie.
Cue Hollywod exec: “Talentless and hot, you say? Shake down some comic books!”
It would be naïve to say that Fox isn’t tailor-made for comic books, where women’s waists are often smaller than their heads and series like Marvel Divas are believed to appeal to a female audience. And it’s hard to make an argument that women would be more drawn to SF and action movies starring decent actresses, since there’s too little evidence; Hollywood generally doesn’t think of women until it’s romantic-comedy or Oscar season. For now, no lack of acting talent can offset the box office value of a girl who looks like she stepped out of Marvel’s Swimsuit Issue.
There has been plenty said about how hard it is for nuanced portrayals of women and minorities to find success, both in comic books and in greater Hollywood. Given that the chances of dumpy-superheroine narratives catching on this year are slim, it’s no shock that most upcoming projects call for women who are either an object of the hero’s lust or a heroic object for the audience to lust after. However, isn’t there something fundamentally wrong with the fact that ALL FIVE major projects can be cast with the same woman—and for whom each character is usually the only woman in an otherwise male world?
What would it take for Hollywood (and comic books, and SF) to wake up to the idea that women might lay out some box-office money if the female stars could act and had something to do besides the hero?
And most importantly, how will I ever forgive Christopher Nolan if this Catwoman rumor is true?
Genevieve Valentine is an incurable movie and TV nerd whose fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Federations, and more. Her first novel is forthcoming from Prime Books. Her appetite for bad movies is insatiable, a tragedy she tracks on her blog.