wall_e

 

I was bored and nostalgic yesterday. I decided to watch Wall-E again. When Wall-E was first released, I was completely enamored. I loved the lack of dialogue, the effects which are probably still the best animation Disney/Pixar has ever done, and the overall story. I loved Wall-E, because he was this cute, lonely little creature (robot) who gets thrust into this huge conspiracy that is way beyond him. It is also a massive political commentary on human waste and consumption. It shows the terrible things that can happen when we get greedy, like the destruction of our planet, and the increase of sedentary lifestyles. Laziness, gluttony, all that fun stuff. However, where this film truly shines is its female characters. All of the characters were strong and well developed, even the robots, but I write about female characters.

I guess that’s a lie, because I’m going to start by talking about Wall-E.

Wall-E is completely unexceptional. He’s not too smart, doesn’t have a variety of skills, and sort of just bumbles through the movie. However, this makes him a strong character because, although he isn’t your normal, garden variety hero type, he’s still the hero. He has a strong personality that you immediately fall in love with, and you’re rooting for him the whole time. His unrequited affection for EVE makes you root for him even more, because you know that he’s the underdog, and you want him to win. He saves the day not for the girl, but because it’s the right thing to do. He just wants to help, and he knows that getting that plant in the holodeck will help. He knows the Auto-Pilot is the bad guy, and that EVE and the Captain are the good guys. He’s just a good person (yes, I’m saying person) who is willing to sacrifice a lot for these people he literally just met. Or hasn’t even met.

Mary is the one of the humans on the ship. While Wall-E is trying to get to EVE, he turns off Mary’s chair, which makes her pay attention to the world around her. She doesn’t want to go back. She loves the Axiom and begins exploring immediately. She eventually meets John, who Wall-E woke up earlier. This is the main reason I like her so much. Although John was “awake” longer than Mary was, Mary ended up being the leader. She takes John to all of the places on the ship she likes, and introduces him to the world. They start a romance because they’re the only two people on the ship besides the Captain who aren’t sitting zombified in their chairs (Again, social commentary). However, she is the initiator and leader of the duo. John, who isn’t any less able than Mary, defers to her judgment, because he respects her as a person. Even at the end, she’s the one who grabs John while he’s falling and then let’s go to protect the children. She is the epitome of a strong female character because she used all of her feminine traits and was still able to do all of that.

EVE is our main female protagonist. We meet EVE, the Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator, when she is deployed on Earth in the city that Wall-E lives in. He’s immediately enamored by her because she’s something that isn’t garbage or a cockroach. However, she shows immediately that she’s no pushover. She packs a nice energy cannon on her arm which she uses pretty indiscriminately. She at first seems to just be another robot with no personality, but we quickly learn that she has a large range of emotions. She is patient, but still has a temper, as evidenced by the tantrum she throws when after searching for a long time she finds no plants. She destroys a whole line of Buy-n-Large tankers just out of frustration. She shows early on that she’s not a woman to be trifled with. She also shows a great dedication to her duty and her position. There is nothing wrong with this. As the movie progresses, she reveals more of her personality. Rather than grabbing the plant and putting it in the Holodeck, she saves the humans from getting crushed. Despite immediately bringing the plant to the captain after reclaiming it, she and Wall-E dance in space (which inspires Mary and John to explore the ship!). She’s the perfect combination of duty and honor. She’s caring and strong. She’s the leader between her and Wall-E, and she constantly feels the need to protect him.

 

Why don’t we have more characters like Mary and EVE? They show that women can fill the same roles as men, and still be feminine. They show that men can be heroes and not be the main actor in an event. Wall-E saves the day, but none of that would have mattered if EVE wasn’t there. They had to work together. This movie shows us that all people, regardless of gender, race (in this case, robot or human), ability (as shown by the “malfunctioning” robots who help save the day with their “disabilities”), and past (as evidenced by Mary and john, despite being zombified by their chairs), can work together to change the world. Plus, neither character is sexualized in any way. They get by on their own merits. We need more movies like this. We need more characters like this.

 

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