The Lesson of the Latest 'Ghostbusters' Trailer: Don't Doubt the New Team
There's a lot to unpack in the new trailer for Paul Feig's Ghostbusters reboot, not least of which are clues to the true purpose of Chris Hemsworth's receptionist Kevin (he's not the Janine of the new movie, he's the Dana!) and other nods to the original movie's most iconic ghosts, with cameos from both Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
But more interesting than all of that is the way in which it responds to critics of the movie's choice of heroes.
Heat Vision breakdown
Since it was announced, Feig's choice of Ghostbusters — an all-female team that includes Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon — has provoked ire from a slice of the fan base seemingly incensed at the idea that women can fulfill the fictional career of dealing with paranormal manifestations just as well as men.
While the new trailer doesn't explicitly address the sexism implicit in the fans' complaints — outside of Leslie Jones wondering if a crowd's inability to catch her when she's stage-diving was "a race thing or a lady thing" — it's a teaser that sets out to establish that, yes, these characters are more than capable of taking care of business.
It's referred to directly in the opening dialogue: "Whatever it is, no one should have to encounter that kind of evil," an official tells the team, before adding, "except you girls. I think you can handle it." It's a neat joke, simultaneously playing up the eagerness of others to wash their hands of the problem and let others take it on while stating outright: These characters can do things that everyone else can't.
That's a theme immediately picked up in the next dialogue we hear, with Melissa McCarthy's Abby Yates telling the group (and the audience), "We have a gift. We see what no one else is willing to see. We do things that others can't do. If there's a paranormal problem, we're the ones to answer the call."
The rest of the trailer plays with the notion of the new cast being the best women for the job; a newsreader asks, "Are they to be taken seriously?" following a scene of Wiig getting vomited on. But when the chips are down — "I think the word we're looking for is 'apocalypse,'" McKinnon helpfully offers, although another summer movie already has that one covered, thanks — they're shown to be the ones stepping up, be it with acrobatics, punching ghosts or good old-fashioned proton packs. They're living up to the hype and getting the job done.
To underscore that, the trailer shows Hemsworth's Kevin — an actor and character who could easily be imagined as the protagonist of other, similar movies — utterly failing in his attempt to live up to the team's example. "I was born to be a Ghostbuster, all right?" he exclaims in a classic moment of male privilege, right before getting possessed by a ghost; another moment where a joke about expectations disguises proof that the new Ghostbusters are every bit as good at their jobs as the original heroes.
It helps, of course, that the repeated underscoring of its protagonists' competence is as understated as it is; even just imagining the online outrage that would follow an outright rebuttal to critics is exhausting.
But even more than the new trailer convincing skeptical viewers that the new movie will be funnier than the first trailer made it seem — because, let's be honest, that wasn't the most appealing opener — we can only hope that it will silence all but the most ardent haters as to whether or not the new characters are worthy of handling the legacy of Venkman, Spengler et al.
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