Katniss Everdeen and Merida, the heroines of The Hunger Games and Brave, wield their weapons as naturally as they shoulder their duties to their home and their kinswomen. In a political season full of male politicians questioning a woman’s right to choose, it was refreshing to see two mainstream summer films portray girls who choose to act – and to act bravely. I was particularly struck by the way in which both girls are tenuously positioned in a context of violence – they inflict it in an attempt to defend rather than offend. Violence as self-defense. Katniss goes into battle to protect her little sister (and, by extension, her mother), and Merida goes into battle to protect her girlhood, and then later, to protect her own mother. Archery as their mode of self -defense is also an interesting choice – it is elegant, swift, deadly, but not gory. Furthermore it connotes chivalry, skill and heroism. Katniss’ grace as an archer is set against the other Tributes’ choice of more (visually) violent weapons: knives, clubs, fists. Likewise, Merida defends against a cacophonous backdrop of fighting males with torches, swords and clubs. While generally I don’t support the glamorization of violence, in films or otherwise, it’s also refreshing to see these girls participating in it, rather than victimized by it.
With Elizabeth Banks perfectly cast as Effie Trinket in THG and my favorite Kelly MacDonald voicing Merida in Brave.