Which will come Barbie the film, directed by Greta Gerwig, has already developed a cult following thanks to its many exciting set shots from shooting earlier this year. Then finally, the first official footage from the film was released earlier this month.
Featuring just a few shots and no dialogue—save for an introductory voiceover by Helen Mirren—the preview doesn’t give fans much to analyze from the film itself. However, it does give people an idea of the film’s tone, including its approach to the source material.
Most of the trailer consists of an introduction paying tribute 2001: Space Odyssey. The aforementioned narrative plays a prank on a group of little girls with their baby dolls, explaining that they have been a staple of young girls since the beginning of time. Margot Robbie’s titular Barbie herself then makes her debut, wearing the same black-and-white swimsuit that the original Barbie doll from 1959 wore. Finally, a few clips from the film featuring Robbie and several other cast members — including Ryan Gosling, Issa Rae, and Simu Liu — shown briefly, along with the movie logo.
The few brief glimpses we got of the film make that clear Barbie takes a lot of inspiration from toy lines, from clothes to the brightly colored world itself. But it’s not just Barbie’s aesthetic that will be in the film – it’s her spirit, or rather, the spirit of her creator. Barbie is largely seen as a classic “girl’s toy,” and the brand has been criticized for being too conformist to societal beauty standards. But as the trailer shows, Barbie was and is a trailblazer in the toy industry, something that is often overlooked today.
Before Barbie, as shown in the trailer, the “standard” toy for little girls was a baby doll. As well as giving them something fun to carry around and dress up for, the underlying message these dolls marketed toward girls specifically reinforced the traditional gender role of women in charge of raising children and being the caretakers of society at large.
So when Barbie stepped onto the scene, she ticked a different box. Her character is older than her target demographic, meaning she is something to aspire to rather than take care of. She’s a role model, which turns out to be both a good and a bad thing, but it provides an alternative to baby dolls and the parenting expectations that come with them.
Yes, Barbie ended up promoting an entirely different gender expectation – mostly in the looks department – but the brand has also become far more progressive than it’s often given credit for. In addition to simply appearing as an adult doll in a sea of baby dolls, Barbie continues to showcase women who take on roles far beyond motherhood (although there are Barbie dolls that focus on motherhood, including pregnancy). She plays pretty much every sport out there, from those traditionally seen as “girly” like gymnastics and ice skating, to ones like hockey, basketball and boxing. She has had countless careers, such as doctor, chef, director, dancer, news anchor, entrepreneur, teacher, farmer, military officer, firefighter, astronaut, scientist, pilot, cowgirl, and beekeeper, to name a few.
Barbie has also become more inclusive over the years to those who don’t match her original appearance of being fair skin with blonde hair and blue eyes. The first dolls became more racially diverse, and more recently have also launched a wider range of body types and capabilities, with dolls with wheelchairs and even hearing aids joining the Barbie lineup. This is also something that will also be included in the film, with several different versions of Barbie and Ken present, each looking very different from the other.
While Margot Robbie watches The Truman Show and Splash to prepare for roles, films Barbie shape resembles most now it seems LEGO Movie. It is also a film dedicated to bringing the world of a popular toy brand to life, but it has the self-awareness that audiences love for it. It never comes down to self-parody, but incorporates unique aspects of the toy along with elements of how people play and use it, and the culture that surrounds it.
With Barbie is called subversive and the trailer gives audiences a taste of it, one has to wonder if the film will go as far as criticizing the brand itself (if it didn’t go that way in modern times, then at least its past has been less inclusive than it is today). This will push the boundaries further than stated above LEGO Moviethough Barbie it does look more geared towards adults than the film does.
It’s also worth noting that Will Ferrell’s Barbie the character has been reported as the CEO of Mattel, meaning the brand itself will play a part in the film. That said, it should be noted that Mattel Films itself was one of the production companies behind the project, so the film may not be as critical of the toy company as some would hope. Still, with the script being the top aspect of the film that those involved in it hypnotized, something must have made sense. Barbie will surprise audiences upon release.