The Charlie’s Angels franchise returns to the big screen this year with a brand new film starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska and Elizabeth Banks. Elizabeth Banks isn’t just acting this time around though; she is also one of the film’s credited screenwriters, and this will mark her second time directing a film. Elizabeth Banks is also producing the new Charlie’s Angels through her Brownstone Productions and she brought a specific pitch in mind for the reboot, as she explained:
I thought you could expand the world beyond three women on the beach in California and relaunch it as a global spy franchise. I thought about [the detective agency's faceless boss] Charles Townsend as the basis of it, and the '70s, which is when I was born, and the women's movement over the past 40 years. And I thought about what a really wealthy man who was a benefactor to these women in the '70s would have grown that organization into over 40 years.
The previous Charlie’s Angels films and TV shows have primarily focused on a trio of women, Charlie’s titular Angels, working for the Townsend Agency, a crime-fighting detective agency. The new film will also center on a trio, but for her pitch, Elizabeth Banks took that concept and blew it up, reimagining the Townsend Agency as a global enterprise, with spies, Angels and Bosleys all around the world. Thus the film can also act as a sequel and not a total reboot.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Elizabeth Banks mentioned the women’s movement over the past several decades and how if the wealthy and mysterious Charles Townsend had this agency in the '70s and was supporting these women back then, what would his next steps have been. The thought being that Charlie would have wanted to expand the success of the agency beyond just three women in California, and over the decades it would have grown into a global spy organization.
So Elizabeth Banks’ pitch for Charlie’s Angels expanded out the world of the story to give it a different feel and dynamic from the previous iterations. But she also wanted to update the property for modern times and create a film that felt more true to life for women in the world today. Explaining her approach, she continued:
I went back to the original idea in Charlie's Angels, which was that women were in the workforce. And all of the things that I feel are happening in the women's movement right now, whether it be #MeToo, or — I say this in a time of dire straits for women's rights in this country right now — but I feel like all those things are happening because women are in the workforce in greater numbers than ever in human history. I just wanted to make a movie about women at work, working together. I wanted to make a movie that was not about their boyfriends that they didn't see enough, or the cats they didn't feed, or the mother that they didn't call, because I don't worry about those things in my daily life. And so, in that way, I felt like we were updating the idea of Charlie's Angels.
With the increase in women in the workforce over the decades, 47.3% labor participation in 1976 when Charlie’s Angels premiered, versus 56.8% in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Elizabeth Banks wanted to make a movie about women doing their jobs and working together. Those jobs just happen to be for a spy agency fighting international crime.
It’s also pretty clear that Elizabeth Banks didn’t want to make a movie that failed the Bechdel Test or one that used the same tired stereotypes for female characters. So don’t expect Kristen Stewart or Naomi Scott’s characters to be lamenting about boy trouble or their relationships with their mothers while they thwart evil. It’s encouraging to hear because those clichéd things can bore an audience that has seen them countless times if not done exceptionally well.
Instead, the focus in Charlie’s Angels will be on the Angels working together and their relationships with one another.
Obviously Elizabeth Banks’ pitch for a new and updated Charlie’s Angels worked because she got to make the film and it releases on November 15. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all this year’s biggest movies.