Top 5 Times Gender Swapping Roles That Did Not Work Out

"Remember, inside every girl, there's a boy." - Paul from She's The Man

· 5 min read
Posters of various films featuring gender-swapped roles

Modern entertainment increasingly uses gender-swapped performers to play traditionally male or female characters. While this can be a fantastic approach to subvert gender expectations and offer fresh viewpoints on timeless characters, it isn't always successful.

Top 5 gender-swapping roles that failed

In fact, gender-swapped roles have fallen flat in a number of high-profile instances. Here are the top five instances of gender-swapping roles that failed.

1. Black Widow - Taskmaster

A woman in a combat suit holding her helmet
Taskmaster in the MCU

In the Black Widow film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Olga Kurylenko plays the female version of Taskmaster instead of the male counterpart from the comics.

The choice to gender-swap the character may have been designed to support gender equality and representation, but it ultimately failed because of the character's lack of growth and depth.

With no detailed past or motivations like the male counterpart in the comics, the gender-flipped Taskmaster in Black Widow is little more than a one-dimensional antagonist.

The gender of the character appears to have been changed for novelty's sake rather than as part of a well-planned and performed upgrade.

The character's gender is not meaningfully explored, and it makes no important contribution to the plot or themes of the film.

The "villain problem" in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where the villains are frequently undeveloped and solely used as plot devices to progress the hero's story, is also made worse by Taskmaster's gender switch.

This is especially frustrating in the instance of Taskmaster, a beloved and captivating comic book character.

In conclusion, despite the Taskmaster's gender switch in Black Widow having a good goal, it ultimately failed to owe to a lack of character development and depth, feeling like a lost opportunity.

2. The Flash - Red Death

A woman in a suit with a Batman and Flash logo in the center
Red Death in CW's The Flash

The opportunity to tell a Batman tale for the show's last season is being missed by The Flash. Javicia Leslie, who played Red Death in the hit TV show Batwoman, has been cast in season 9 of The Flash.

What's intriguing about that is that Barry Allen loses the Speed Force to Red Death, a villainous Batman from another timeline.

The Flash would have had a great excuse to make Batman an important character in season 9's plot as both an enemy and a potential ally as it introduces Red Death.

The pre-existing bond between Ryan and the Scarlet Speedster is another argument that may be made to support the alteration to the original plot. Barry has never met Batman, although in "Armageddon" he did run across Ryan Wilder.

He already knows her, which gives the show a foundation to work from when the antagonist makes her Arrowverse debut and also permits the creation of Red Death from an existing character.

Yet, given how little they interacted, Barry wouldn't feel any more personally threatened by an evil Batwoman assaulting Central City in season 9 of The Flash than he would if he faced Batman.

3. Ghostbusters (2016)

Four women holding gear in grey and orange suits
Ghostbusters (2016)

The all-female lead ensemble in the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters replaced the film's original male cast from 1984 original.

The movie's execution fell short, disappointing viewers by failing to convey the original's charm and humor.

The female protagonists in Ghostbusters lacked chemistry and comedic timing, which was one of the main reasons the gender switch failed.

The ensemble, which featured talented actors like Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, was unable to replicate the chemistry and camaraderie of the original group.

The film's humor lacked the spontaneous wit and humor of the original and felt forced and artificial.

Additionally, it appeared more like a marketing gimmick than a sincere effort to advance gender equity and representation in Hollywood when the Ghostbusters' genders were switched.

The movie depended on the existing Ghostbusters brand recognition to draw audiences rather than developing unique female characters and plotlines.

This method felt flimsy and made little headway in addressing the more significant problem of gender disparity in Hollywood.

In general, it felt that Ghostbusters' gender-swapping was a missed chance to develop unique, interesting female characters and storylines and instead relied on the worn-out trope of gender-swapping male characters to draw audiences.

4. Ocean's 8

Eight women posing for the Ocean's 8 Official Poster
Ocean's 8 Official Poster

The all-female lead cast of Ocean's 8, the Ocean's Eleven franchise's 2018 spinoff, replaced the male leads from the original films' male casts.

The absence of chemistry and camaraderie between the female characters was one of the main reasons that Ocean's 8's gender-swapping failed.

Although the ensemble, which included Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, all had talent as actors, they could not match the original group's effortless rapport and chemistry.

The heist appeared to be more of a forced attempt to duplicate the original without bringing anything new or original.

Also, it seems that Ocean's 8's gender-swapping was a squandered chance to develop unique, interesting female characters and storylines.

The movie depended on the gender-swapping of the original male characters to entice audiences rather than using the chance to construct fully realized and distinctive female characters.

This strategy struck me as being slack and offering little to the greater problem of gender imbalance in Hollywood.

Overall, the gender switch in Ocean's 8 didn't feel like a real attempt to make something fresh and interesting, but rather like a half-hearted attempt to cash in on the success of the original movie.

5. The Hustle

Two women posing in front of a gold car
The Hustle's Official Poster

As The Hustle seeks to highlight its new gender relations, it frequently fails, often in a literal sense. Let's start with the obvious: Penny is depicted as an obese slob, whereas Josephine is presented as regally beautiful.

Penny's voracious appetite is frequently alluded to, she frequently falls down—on her face, her back, or a pommel horse—and spills food on herself when she's not dumping it on Josephine.

Even towards the end of the movie, her standard con tactic is to dash into the lobby of a posh hotel, exclaim “What are the signs of a stroke? I can’t feel my t*ts!” The filmmakers appear to think we will find this funny beyond all reason.

The complete lack of chemistry between its protagonists, though, is perhaps the most obvious way in which The Hustle differs from its predecessors.

You could sense both their cultural hostility and their grudging admiration for one another with Caine and Martin in particular.

They had an easy, likable groove. In comparison, Hathaway and Wilson almost seem to inhabit different films, taking turns in the spotlight but never truly sharing a moment or improving one another's performances.

This is a terrible remake and another in a line of popular films that pose as feminists but promote the exact opposite.

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