Elizabeth Banks, writer, director, producer, and costar of the new Charlie's Angels from Sony, has delivered an action-packed popcorn flick that's fun, feminist, and queer.
Banks, who previously directed Pitch Perfect 2, has not only brought the decades-old franchise to a new generation, but she's recontextualized it for queer women and women of color, all while keeping with the fun, campy spirit of the original '70s TV series and the films that starred Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, and Cameron Diaz.
The Advocate spoke with Banks about centering women in the film that stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska, some of the feminist flourishes it incorporates, and the discussion around ensuring that Stewart's character Sabina telegraphed as queer in a movie that's more about female solidarity than romance.
"I learned [from directing Pitch Perfect 2] about what I love in movies and television, and that is celebrating women, and especially women at work," Banks says. "I really wanted to tell a story about a group of women coming together through themes of camaraderie, teamwork, sisterhood, sorority. That's truly about modern women who love their job and don't apologize for it."
One of the sociologically relevant pieces of Charlie's Angels is a scene in which a female informant exchanges information, not for money but for menstrual products and birth control in order to help women in her native Turkey. Regarding that plot point in the movie, Banks says:
"One of the great tropes of all spy movies is the informant and the payment to the informant. I was really interested in stories from women around the globe who are less interested in receiving money for information because money can be taken from them by the men in their lives. And they actually need menstrual products and birth control and Pampers and Advil. I was so moved by the idea that there is a network of women around the world that are helping each other get things."
While Charlie's Angels has always been inherently campy, it's never been overtly queer -- that is, until Banks and Stewart chose to include a nod to Sabina's queerness. Banks has also incorporated a few other nods and cameos that are sure to please LGBTQ viewers.
"We didn't really write sexuality into the movie in any way. I didn't want to put labels on any of these characters. I didn't want to make assumptions about any of these women and what their preferences are," Banks says.
"The more Kristen and I talked about it, the more it became more important to just own something. Letting her flirt with that woman and making sure that I put that in the movie, it became really important to both of us," she adds.
"It's a little callout that just tells the entire audience that this movie is inclusive and loves and accepts everyone."
Charlie's Angels is in theaters Friday. Watch The Advocate's interview with Banks below. And watch The Advocate's interview with Stewarts, Scott, and Balinska here.