4 Pop Culture Icons Who Were Originally Meant to Be Women
No matter how many times you point out that Batman doesn't have manboobs, or that Jason Bourne never wank-stalked his ex-girlfriend on Facebook, some people will always dismiss stories with ass-kicking female protagonists because they "just can't identify with them." That's why Hollywood had to stick Wonder Woman with two male chaperones before finally letting her appear on the big screen. But hey, it could've been worse. For instance, they could have decided to make Wonder Woman a man, which actually isn't as implausible as it may sound.
In fact, it turns out that plenty of your favorite fictional characters were almost women until someone came in and said, "Hmmm ... needs more penis." Like with ...
I don't hate Spider-Man 3. I do think it's a bad movie, but it admittedly had some good stuff in it. On the other hand, the film couldn't have fucked up Venom any more than it did, even if the entire finale was just 10 minutes of him being brutally sodomized to death.
Or did that actually happen, and I just repressed it?
What really baffles me about it is that, despite being a cool villain and all, Eddie Brock (the version of Venom used in the movie) isn't really that complicated of a character. Simply put, he's the anti-Spider-Man: Peter Parker is a scrawny nerd, while Eddie is a religious bodybuilder; one is a colorful, optimistic wisecracker, while the other falls into a deep depression and contemplates suicide after losing his job and journalistic credibility. Now compare that to Topher Grace's Eddie Brock: a whiny, sarcastic twig who at one point actually begged God to kill Peter Parker for him.
"There's 20 bucks in it for you!"
The whole "Spider-Man's opposite" thing becomes even more obvious when you consider that David Michelinie, one of Venom's creators, originally wanted the character to be a woman. But not just any woman: a pregnant woman about to give birth, whose husband is hit and killed by a taxi because the driver got distracted by Spider-Man. In the story that Michelinie envisioned, this would then cause the woman to go into labor on the street, and lose the baby, her husband, and her sanity all in the same night.
But I'm sure that getting fired was equally devastating for you, buddy.
After getting out of the hospital, this proto-Female Venom (Fenom) was supposed to bond with the alien symbiote, the source of Venom's power, and become a sinister villainess whose main thing was that she didn't trigger Peter's spider-sense, and could thus attack him from the shadows.
It's also worth mentioning that the comic book symbiotes have the ability to "give birth" to other symbiotes, which would fit beautifully into a story of an insane, grieving mother who lost her child. Unfortunately, Marvel editor Jim Salicrup thought that a woman, even when smeared in extraterrestrial vegemite, wouldn't be a believable threat to a teenager with spider superpowers. That's when Michelinie reworked the idea and came up with the Eddie Brock Venom, effectively robbing us of a chance to see a truly unique baddie beat both Spider-Man and 1980s comic book sexism harder than some readers would've beaten their dicks to this character, probably.
James Bond. You know him, you love him, which is why it's so ridiculous to suggest that this legendary lady killer could ever have been a killer lady. But speaking of things that are ridiculous: you know what else is ridiculous? James Bond.
"I said ridiculous."
Or at least, that's what the producers of the first (planned) Bond movie thought. In 1955, Gregory Ratoff optioned the rights to Ian Fleming's Casino Royale, hoping to turn it into a hit action movie about a suave British intelligence agent. But there was a problem. After carefully studying the book, which he probably should've done before shelling out money for it, Ratoff found Bond's character incredibly unbelievable and "kind of stupid." Those were actually the exact words of Lorenzo Semple Jr., who was hired as the movie's screenwriter, and who also kind of had a point. Think about it; if you'd never heard of James Bond, would you ever buy the idea of an internationally-recognized spy whose entire personality consisted of killing people and ejaculating, probably often at the same time?
That's why, at one point, Ratoff and Semple seriously considered making their James Bond a woman -- Jane Bond. They even went as far as choosing an actress to play her: famed starlet Susan Hayward, who, according to Ratoff, owed the producer a favor and would totally be up for the role. And yeah, with an attitude like that, it's obvious that Ratoff wanted to take Bond's ridiculousness to its inevitable conclusion, and turn the entire movie into a comedy based on the "hilarious" notion of "a woman spy?! *monocle drops into champagne glass*"
"What's next? Movies about women harassing men in the workplace?
On the other hand, at the time, Hayward was an accomplished dramatic actress famous for her portrayals of vicious alcoholics. So maybe Ratoff and Semple did understand Bond's character, and could have delivered a good spy flick with a female lead.
But sadly, the movie never made it out of pre-production, and a few years later, Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli came out with Dr. No, where Sean Connery's fantastic performance made it impossible for audiences to associate James Bond with anything other than a gigantic, STD-ridden cock.
Still, I can't help but wonder how modern pop culture would look like if Jane Bond had actually seen the light of day. Mostly though, I really want to know what penis innuendo names the movie would have come up with for Hayward's Bond Boys. So far, I've come up with Richard Thick, Penn Island, and Crotch O'Plenty, but feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments section.
Wouldn't it make so much more sense if Spock was a woman?
"Hell no." -- A scarily large portion of the internet.
Think about it, though. What is Spock's main role in Star Trek? To be the cold, logical counterbalance to Captain Kirk and his macho bravado. That's why whenever the two of them were on screen, their conversations usually went something like this:
Kirk: "I'm going to fly the ship and/or my penis into that alien thing."
Spock: "Captain, it is inadvisable to fly the ship and/or your penis into that alien thing."
And then Spock would misunderstand a simple figure of speech, and everyone would laugh because smart people fail on English is hahaha. My point is: if Spock is meant to be the yin to Kirk's wang, wouldn't it have been more logical if Gene Roddenberry had just made him a woman? Actually, it turns out that he already did just that in the original pilot episode of Star Trek, "The Cage," by introducing a female character called "Number One" (Majel Barrett) who was Spock in everything but name and genitalia.
Particularly in the silly hairdo department.
Although "The Cage" was rejected by NBC, a lot of its elements did ultimately make it into the show, like a brave Captain of the USS Enterprise (Christopher Pike) having adventures in space with his rational-to-a-fault first officer (Number One). Now, the pilot did also feature Leonard Nimoy as the ship's science officer, called "Spock," but he was nothing like the character we know today. No, he fucking smiled in that episode, and used colloquialisms, and was generally all eager and happy about life. It was pretty disgusting.
Number One was the unemotional genius with a mind as sharp as a calculator made out of razor blades, and she was supposed to be the show's "Spock" (Well, either her or Nichelle "Uhura" Nichols, but that one's up for debate). There was just one small problem with that: NBC executives and test audiences hated Number One and generally thought that she was a giant number two, ultimately forcing Roddenberry to write the character out of the show.
Roddenberry would later make it up to Barrett by marrying her.
And so, in the next pilot -- this one featuring Captain Kirk -- Number One was nowhere to be seen, but all her cold logic suddenly seemed to have been rolled into Nimoy's Spock, creating one of the most enduring sci-fi icons in history. This means that if Number One wasn't written out, there would still be a male Enterprise officer called "Spock," but he wouldn't be the archetypical emotionless alien that you picture when you hear the name now. That would have been Number One, the true "Spock," whom men in the '60s could fantasize about without feeling weird later on.
Oh, who am I kidding? They could have done that with Nimoy anyway.
I'm definitely not the first person to notice that Star Wars suffers from a distinct shortage of female characters, though I wouldn't go as far as calling it a "sausage fest," because honestly, a festival dedicated entirely to sausages sounds pretty darn amazing to me. An entire galaxy populated by what seems like five women? That's more like my personal version of Hell.
Though I suppose that's not so bad in a world where telekinesis exists.
The weird thing is that, initially, the original trilogy was not only supposed to feature more women, it almost had a female main character named "Starkiller." Yeah, I bet you didn't know that George Lucas wrote the first draft of Star Wars by repeatedly smashing his penis into a typewriter. That would certainly explain the name, and why there is Starkiller concept art out there that shows her kneeling in front of proto-Han Solo while he holds a lightsaber and sports a rather magnificent beard.
"Dude, didn't you see the necktie on the doorknob?!"
Unfortunately, other than her apparent fascination with Han Solo's solo ham, we don't know much about Starkiller, other than that she might live on the second floor, because her first name would obviously have been Luka. That's right: Starkiller was actually the early prototype of Luke Skywalker, whose sex change has been, without a doubt, one of the most important things ever to happen to Star Wars.
Lucas played with tons of different ideas while developing his movies, but in the end, he realized that underneath all the craziness about Sesame Street puppets teaching a kid battle magic to fight his cyborg samurai father, he was essentially making the age-old story of the Hero's Journey.
To somewhere besides Bootyville, that is.
And the thing about those stories is that they require the audience to project themselves onto the protagonist, which is why Luke Skywalker, the hero of the Star Wars journey, had to be a bland everyman. Not a 16-year-old girl in love with a much older guy, because those stories only succeed if the guy is a vampire, apparently.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Star Wars starring Luka Starkiller wouldn't have been a good movie. However, I am saying that it wouldn't have been Star Wars. They either would have had it focus entirely on the romance between Han and Luka (essentially making it Grease ... in Space!), or they would have cast Han Solo in the role of the relatable everyman. The problem with the latter is that it would require stripping him of any personality, and thus making it impossible for Joss Whedon to later remake the character in the form of Firefly's Malcolm Reynolds, which on reflection is much closer to my personal version of Hell.
But while we're on the subject of alien gender swaps, it would've been nice if Lucas hadn't changed his mind about making Darth Maul a female Sith warrior modeled on Maggie Cheung in The Phantom Menace. But I suppose he was just really committed to not accidentally making an awesome movie, so that's one point to Lucas for consistency.
And minus a million for denying us a Sith Maggie Cheung.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more from Cezary, check out 6 Awesome Theories That Totally Change Famous Characters and 5 Iconic Movie Scenes Almost Cut for Idiotic Reasons.
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