Dan Trachtenberg's "Prey," the seventh film in the "Predator" film series, stars Amber Midthunder as Naru, a 1719 Comanche woman who finds herself facing off against a towering space alien that aims to hunt human beings for sport. Ever since 1987, the aliens seen in the "Predator" franchise have become pop culture staples, cropping up sporadically all across the pop culture map, appearing in movies, video games, and comic books. They are typically presented as deadly and aggressive. They do not converse with their human prey. Their only flaw appears to be their hubris; too often, Predators underestimate their homo sapiens quarry.
That is certainly the case with Naru, a character whom the Predator rarely avoids attacking because it does not see her as a threat. Her tenacity, skills with a tomahawk, and peerless tracking skills would dictate otherwise, however, and Naru will spend the climax of the film drawing more than a little bit of green glowing blood from the extraterrestrial interloper.
Midthunder has been acting professionally since age four — she also had a notable role in the FX series "Legion" — but it may be "Prey" that finally springboards her to superstardom. Naru is a compelling, capable, heroic character, possessed of both the steely determination required of an action movie hero, but also the humanity and humor of an actual person. That she is able to hold her own — both physically and charismatically — against a recognizable movie monster like the Predator proves Midthunder's ability to carry a sci-fi movie.
This made us at /Film want to rack our brains for other notable sci-fi heroines — all throughout film, TV, and literary history — that Midthunder would feel comfortable in. We came up with the following seven.
The Empress Of The Blazing World
"The Blazing World" was written by Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle, in 1666. While what we think of as science fiction hadn't quite been invented yet — many critics hold Mary Shelley's 1818 novel "Frankenstein" to be the first sci-fi novel — "The Blazing World" does belong to a genre precedent called Utopian fiction. The genre was named after Sir Thomas Moore's 1516 speculative essay "Utopia" which imagined a fictional country where things seem to work a little better than in his native England.
"The Blazing World" has a little bit more of a story, as it follows an unnamed kidnapped woman who is made the empress of the titular Blazing World, a distant land populated by anthropomorphic animals. The first part of the book is about her coming to power and understanding her kingdom. The second part is about her gathering of philosophies and deeper knowledge. The third part is about her waging war against the human world using submarines, flying birdmen, mermen, and explosive stones as weapons. She is hailed as a deity.
The main character grows from being a victim into being the benevolent philosopher queen of a realm too glorious for Earth. Cavendish was clearly writing a political treatise on how the ideal government is meant only to protect its citizens from both attack and the injustice of castes and social strata. She was a lot like Thomas Hobbes in that regard.
In a world that has already given us stylized film versions of "The Green Knight" and "The Northman," there's no reason a colorful, FX-heavy superheroine story — starring Midthunder — shouldn't be made.
Helena Glory From R.U.R.
Karel Čapek's 1920 sci-fi play "R.U.R." is perhaps most famous for introducing the word "robot" into the popular lexicon. The robots in "R.U.R." are not strictly mechanical beings, however, but more resemble programmable fleshapoids, kind of like the Replicants in "Blade Runner."
The premise of "R.U.R." is simple, and a lot of its story was borrowed in Fritz Lang's seminal sci-fi film "Metropolis." Set in a robot factory, robots are churned off an assembly line with their free will installed, but also an insidious sense of placid compliance when it comes to serving their human masters. One of the central figures of the play is Helena Glory, the daughter of the president of an unnamed industrial superpower, and herself the president of Humanity League, a cabal of rebels who wish robots to be treated fairly.
Over the course of the play, the robots revolt. Helena is given a robot clone. Years pass. Humanity eventually falls. The final part of the play sees Helena's robot clone paired with another robot named Primus, the two of them the first of a new age and a new species.
This kind of broad sci-fi allegory is somewhat out of fashion in cinemas — most sci-fi films these days tend to be action-heavy fantasy pieces — but it certainly has a place in prestige television where shows like "Raised By Wolves," "Westworld," and "Foundation" regularly ask the heavy questions. Midthunder could play the dual role of Helena and her own robot clone — a revolutionary and the vanguard of a new age.
Molly Millions From Neuromancer
Note: The above picture is from the 1995 film "Johnny Mnemonic." The character of Molly Millions does not appear in the film, but she does appear in William Gibson's original novel on which the film is based.
William Gibson's 1984 novel "Neuromancer" has become such a seminal work in sci-fi that it's hard to imagine why it hasn't yet been adapted to TV or film. Regardless, Gibson's influence has been felt throughout sci-fi entertainment ever since, having directly inspired any science fiction story that deals with a dystopian computerized future of computer hackers, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. You can bet that "The Matrix" wouldn't exist without William Gibson. Indeed, "Neuromancer" features a computerized virtual world that can be accessed directly by the brain, nicknamed the matrix, so there you are.
In the original novel, a hacker named Henry Case had his brain damaged as punishment for hacking into his employers' computers and stealing their money. His adventure begins when he teams up with the coolest woman on the planet, Molly Millions, an off-the-grid cyberpunk razorgirl with retractable finger razors and mirrored eyeballs who offers to cure Case if he does a little hacking for her on the side. The two of them uncover a conspiracy of human consciousnesses stored inside computers and malevolent machine intelligence.
And who should play Molly? Midthunder of course. She's certainly charismatic enough.
While a film of "Neuromancer" might feel dated in a world that already saw something as bad as "Ready Player One," perhaps a visit back to the source could provide a refreshing new angle. After reinventing sci-fi, surely a look back is warranted.
Ruby, The Galactic Gumshoe
Perhaps obscure, Ruby the Galactic Gumshoe was the brainchild of writer Thomas Manual Lopez, founder of the ZBS Foundation, a 1970s not-for-profit radio drama enclave located in New York. Lopez brought the medium to a new level, offering hours-long audio epics that incorporated elaborate stories, large casts, awesome electronic music, and amazing sound effects.
The first "Ruby" introduced the world to the titular sci-fi detective who lived on the distant planet of Summa Nulla, and who investigated widespread, secret crises that frequently involved insidious semi-deities from other dimensions. In "Ruby 3," she investigated a god of duality that was pushing its dark energies into the local malls, causing them to grow across the land like a fungus. Ruby's cases often dealt with spiritual energies being drained from humanity.
Ruby was herself sassy and sarcastic and took very few of her missions entirely seriously. She loved getting into fights, and would never be seen without her Smith-Attaché Godzilla Blunderbuss Blaster. Also, Ruby could, due to a quirk of her genetics, temporarily slow time, allowing her to occasionally duck out of the way of flying fists or bullets. Picture "Blade Runner" by way of "Futurama," and you might have an idea of the world of Ruby.
Ruby's world is complex and expansive, and also fun and whimsical. She's a sci-fi heroine too few people know about. Perhaps a film starring Amber Midthunder as Ruby could grab the public's attention. She's currently starred in 10 unique stories. Go to the ZBS website and download a couple.
Max Guevara, A.k.a. X5-452
James Cameron's "Dark Angel" may be one of the most popular sci-fi TV shows of the 2000s that no one talks about anymore. The two-season show starred Jessica Alba as a genetically enhanced super-soldier who was constructed in a lab a decade previous. Now in the far-off future of 2019, Alba, going by the name of Max Guevara, scours the ruined dystopian cities — an electromagnetic bomb shut down the world's computers back in 2009 — looking for other survivors from the same lab. As a front, Max makes a living as a bike messenger. Naturally, there are bad guys lurking in the shadows, seeking to locate the super-soldiers for their own nefarious purposes.
The show has something of a cult status, and there's no reason why it should not be rebooted. Dark, dystopian sci-fi action picture about a genetically enhanced super-assassin who makes a living as a bike messenger? It's like the futuristic version of "Premium Rush," and that's not a bad thing.
Prior to "Dark Angel," Alba had appeared in films like "Camp Nowhere," "Never Been Kissed," and "Idle Hands" before "Dark Angel" provided her with a proper breakout. Now that Amber Midthunder has broken out in her own right, perhaps she could take up the mantle in a cinematic "Dark Angel" reboot. Perhaps it's time for Cameron to expand "Dark Angel" from the small screen to the big one. That is if he's willing to hand the project to others while he makes more "Avatar" sequels.
This one might be mere fan speculation, but what if Matt Groening's and David X. Cohen's long-running animated sci-fi comedy series "Futurama" were, through some strange twist of fate, given a live-action film adaptation? Considering the satirical nature of the show, a live-action "Futurama" might only be presentable — like "Lightyear" — as a film to have emerged from within the fictional "Futurama" universe. Fry, Leela, Bender, and the Professor would, then, become the fictionalized subjects of an in-universe action movie.
Amber Midthunder could play the live-action version of Turanga Leela, the one-eyed pilot who keeps her thickheaded co-workers from being distracted. Leela is a fun character as she is a blue-collar schlub who works at a delivery company, but is also a capable action hero, proficient in martial arts and Maverick-like spaceship stunts. She is often seen laying waste to pushy concert-goers in a mosh pit or, should the situation call for it, a band of attacking yetis.
Elaborate special effects would be required to give Midthunder one gigantic eyeball, but facial-altering special effects have long been used to realize characters like Thanos or the Na'Vi. It seems a gigantic, melon-sized eyeball should be easy enough. Midthunder is a forceful enough actress that a giant eye would be no detriment.
The "Star Wars" franchise seems hellbent on exploring every last, minute historical detail contained in the story that began with "The Phantom Menace" and ended with "The Rise of Skywalker." Multiple side characters have been given their own TV shows, and single lines of dialogue have been expanded into entire movies. So much time and energy has been spent placing a microscope over the Skywalker saga that "Star Wars" has begun to feel limited and insular. Where, some fans ask, is the expansive new part of the universe beyond those related to Luke Skywalker?
Here's a way to expand: the character of Jocasta Nu (Alethea McGrath), who appeared in "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones" as a Jedi librarian.
A librarian is an odd profession to see in "Star Wars," as there appear to be few instances of people reading books or, indeed, any printed words at all ("Star Wars" seems to feature no English-language background signage, even). The rarity of Nu's profession is worth exploring. What was she like as a young woman? What was Jedi life like some fifty years prior to "The Phantom Menace?" How did Jocasta become a librarian?
The pitch, then, is a Jocasta Nu prequel series with Midthunder as a young Jedi, just entering the order. These are the days when the Force is stronger and violence is at a low ebb. A "Star Wars" story without war in it? What a concept. What "Star Wars" fan isn't interested in the utopia of Jedi life, long before the Empire was a glimmer in Palpatine's eye?
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The post Sci-fi Heroes we Want to see Amber Midthunder Play Next appeared first on /Film.