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Recently, Fast & Furious cast member Michelle Rodriguez made some public comments regarding dissatisfaction with how women were being treated in the franchise. Now, the director of the last movie has responded. F. Gary Gray was the man who directed Michelle Rodriguez in The Fate of the Furious, and, while he doesn't discount her concerns, he does defend the way the most recent film portrayed women since that's the only one he was part of creating. According to Gray...
I have nothing but love for Michelle. That is something I imagine she's addressing with the powers that be. I hope it all really works out for her. I can only speak for one film. I've only directed one film. I think with Fate of the Furious in particular, I think we did a pretty damn good job with how we treated the women. Especially given that Charlize Theron, I believe, delivered one of the best performances from an antagonist in the franchise. I got a chance to work with Helen Mirren -- who was awesome, she has a great cameo -- and Charlize, Michelle, Nathalie Emmanuel. You can't really speak for each individual character, but I thought there was a strong performance from everyone involved.
There's certainly an argument to be made that The Fate of the Furious did a better job with female characters than most parts of the franchise, as F. Gary Gray explains to Entertainment Weekly. While the film was short Jordana Brewster, the only other major female character through the bulk of the franchise beyond Michelle Rodriguez, it added the series' first female villain in Charlize Theron's Cipher. Brought back Nathalie Emmanuel from Furious 7 for an appearance, and had a significant cameo from Helen Mirren. Also, since the majority of Vin Diesel's scenes were separate from the rest of his team, it gave all the other members of the squad a bit more time to shine, including Rodriguez. Though it needs to be said that Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson were clearly given center stage.
Having said that, even if Michelle Rodriguez feels like Fate of the Furious was a step in the right direction, and we have no indication that she does, it doesn't mean that she's confident that things will continue in that direction. The purpose of her making such a public statement on Instagram was obviously to make people, including the producers of the series, notice that maybe more could be done with the women of the franchise.
It will be interesting to see what happens next. Michelle Rodriguez leaving the Fast and Furious franchise would be a clear signal at this point that the next two movies that are planned are not looking to give women the place she feels they deserve. Fast and Furious 9 is currently set for a Spring 2019 release.