Blockbusters that passed the Bechdel Test did better overall in 2013 than those that failed.
It’s fairly well accepted that popular Hollywood films tend to suck when it comes to portrayals of women. Often, if a woman isn’t treated like a goal or a prize for a man, their sole purpose in life is the pursuit of one. It’s an ugly habit of the film industry that somehow persists despite the fact that women (half the freaking human race) are just as deep, intellectual and complicated as men.
That being the case, if 2013 was any indicator, the reign of the vapid film female may be coming to an end. A recent analysis of the year’s 50 most successful blockbusters revealed that movies featuring women in more substantial roles by-and-large made more money than their more masculine counterparts. The analysis involved running the included films through the Bechdel Test. For those not in the know, the Bechdel Test simply asks whether a movie has two or more women in it who talk to each other about something other than a man. Popular 2013 films that passed the test included The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Man of Steel and Elysium. Among the failures you can count Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and Pacific Rim.
It’s worth noting that both the successes and failures were split into two tiers depending on just how well/poorly they did in the test. Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 3, for instance, both just barely passed. A special exception was also granted to Gravity on account of it only featuring two characters with the primary focus being on a woman. Altogether, the films that passed the Bechdel Test managed to gross a $4.22 billion. Comparatively, the failures only accumulated $2.66 billion. It should be noted that the test isn’t perfect, of course. For instance, while Pacific Rim technically failed, you could make a good case for it possessing one of the coolest female leads for an action film in ages. Likewise, The Desolation of Smaug actually added a completely new female character to a story that otherwise would have been a Dwarven Sausage fest. Nonetheless, the results are certainly interesting and we’ll be eager to see how 2014 stacks up comparatively.