Charlie's Angels and the Allure of the Renewal


Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska and Naomi Scott in the upcoming revival of Charlie's Angels

In light of the upcoming Charlie’s Angels film, we take a look back at 2019’s explosive trend of remaking, revising and rebooting familiar titles. From the supernatural horror worlds of IT Chapter Two and Child’s Play to the revisitation of childhood nostalgia in The Lion King, it is undeniable that we have entered into a prime generation for taking the old and making it new. Due to rapid development in technology and CGI capabilities as well as an eagerness to imbue well-loved, classic stories with refreshing interpretations, it is not surprising that many visionary directors have recently contributed to a proliferation of remakes and taken special interest in the form of the seriality.


This idea of reinterpretation serves as a main enticement for director Elizabeth Banks in rebooting the Charlie’s Angels flick, an action comedy that will be placed as the third installment in the theatrical film franchise of the same name. With a gap of almost 16 years since the last film, it will be interesting to witness the differences in approach to representing women onscreen, especially with the presence of a female eye behind the camera. As one member of the angel trio Naomi Scott has revealed in a Vogue interview, “you don’t see much about their personal lives or who they’re dating. It’s about the agency going global, getting into intelligence and tech, whistle-blowing. You don’t see bikini shots of their bums.” Kristen Stewart has also chimed in to this concern with the spy-action genre rather than a fetishisation of the female image as she tells Variety, “it’s kind of like a ‘woke’ version...there’s a kitsch nature to the last ones that was super fun. But nowadays, if you see a woman in combat, everything should be completely and utterly within their ability.”

Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Lui and Bill Murray in the 2000s version of Charlie's Angels

Along with this new angle of representation, many more exciting twists will be incorporated into the storyline, one of them being the international expansion of the Townsend Agency—the spy operation where the angels are currently employed. They will be shown travelling around numerous locations around the globe such as Berlin, Hamburg and Istanbul, working in collaboration with a network of highly-trained women for private clients of the elusive Charlie Townsend. Elizabeth Banks herself has mentioned that one of her motives for reviving the franchise is to present to younger generations this theme of collaborative women over the glorified efforts of a single protagonist. The globalisation of the agency as a security and intelligence service is a clever way to do this, with increased job opportunities as a channel for reaching out to women across the world. The lead single of the film’s soundtrack, ’Don’t Call Me Angel’, from Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey also supports this theme of female collaboration.


A second modern twist is found in the characterisation of John Bosley, portrayed by Bill Murray in the original films, with 3 actors now taking on the iconic role: Sir Patrick Stewart, Elizabeth Banks and Djimon Hounsou. This offers a look at 3 different versions of the same character, taking the cinematic pleasure of viewing popular stars in familiar roles to a whole other level.

Kristen Stewart, Ella Balinska, Naomi Scott and Elizabeth Banks in the upcoming revival of Charlie's Angels

Although embellished with all these new stylisations, the film is far from being disconnected from the classic franchise. Previous angel Drew Barrymore has been announced as an executive producer, providing audiences with a touch of comfort as the star and producer of the original films has cashed in her approval for the reboot. Actress Lucy Liu has also shown support, stating that “I think there’s a comfort level in trying to relive something and also to redo something in the modern time, and I’m always curious on how that works out.”


Whether the new version will become an instant classic and garner critical praise like this year’s Spider-Man: Far From Home or receive disappointing reviews in comparison to the original franchise, we can nonetheless be sure of its contribution to discourse surrounding the nature of the remake—what tropes should be eliminated? What elements should be included? As we meet with future remakes in production, such as Little Women (27th Dec) and Mulan (27th March), these questions are bound to resurface again and again, allowing us as audiences to compare, contrast and contest this idea of cinematic renewal. One more thing to keep an eye out for in Charlie’s Angels is the film’s signature vibrant outfits, with the trailer showing sneak peeks of chic blonde wigs, sparkly party gowns and athletic ninja jumpsuits.


Charlie’s Angels is set to release in UK and US cinemas on 15th November 2019, starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska.



Words by Shir Ariya

Graphics by Aamir Potrick


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