Exploring Wrinkle in Time Femininity

After seeing A Wrinkle in Time, I was overwhelmed by the fact that this is an entire blockbuster movie that acts as a celebration of women. Even more special and unique is that women of color are always at the forefront of this movie, with director Ava DuVernay leading the charge.

A Wrinkle in Time is very much a movie for children and everyone clearly made the choice to remove most of the darker themes and scenes from the book to create a charming family film. Less focused on being a exact mirror for the book, DuVernay has made A Wrinkle in Time into more of a modern fairytale. A fairytale by women, for young women.

A Space by Women, for Women

Disney and DuVernay’s turn towards the lighter side of A Wrinkle in Time is certainly an attempt to reach a broader audience. And that’s okay. Children’s books are often adapted into darker fare that the youngest of children can’t enjoy. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson were two franchises whose books could be read by elementary school aged children, but whose film adaptations catered to a older demographic. By keeping this adaptation as accessible to younger viewers, DuVernay is able to strengthen the themes of that she wanted the film to focus on. This is a film about how any girl could be her own hero and that believing in yourself and your capabilities, even when you are surrounded by doubt and no matter your age. I’m glad that DuVernay made those choices, even if they alienate older audiences – it’s so important for the film’s message to be able to reach as wide of a female audience as possible.

Ava DuVernay’s work within the industry has always been focused on creating inclusive spaces for women and people of color, whilst also making opportunities for female directors and other marginalized creatives within the film Industry. Her work on Queen Sugar – an OWN network TV show – has spearheaded the trend of all female directors on prestige TV that is currently being utilized by shows like Jessica Jones.

DuVernay brings this philosophy to A Wrinkle in Time. Driven by it’s mostly female cast (Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Gugu M’batha, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon(, this film is full to the brim with strong women and strong women of color. What makes A Wrinkle in Time truly special is that Meg Murry is played by a young woman of color, Storm Reid. To see a black girl save the universe, to place the fate of the world literally in the hands of a pre-teen black girl…it’s is a huge statement from a studio like Disney.

No Damsels in Distress Here

Too often in fiction, girls are damsels in distress, in need of saving by someone, usually a man. But A Wrinkle in Time hinges on Meg Murry’s ability to save the men in her life. Of course, she isn’t doing it alone. The Mrs’, played by Winfrey, Kaling, and Witherspoon, are there to help her along the way. They are three strong women who also just-so-happen to be the universe’s strongest warriors.

The men in this movie are, for the most part, useless. Gangly Calvin, played by Levi Miller, follows Meg around and tells her how pretty her hair is. He’s there for moral support, I suppose. Mr. Murry, played by Chris Pine, is literally a prisoner, gone for four years, while Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Mrs. Murry keeps it together and takes care of the children and her family. Even little Charles Wallace, played by Deric McCabe, finds himself captured by Evil itself and Meg has to save him. A Wrinkle in Time isn’t be shy about its intentions.

A Brand New Meg

The casting of Storm Reid as Meg Murry is a huge deal. As someone who was a young black girl interested in all things science fiction and space, I think a movie like this would have blown my mind. What I loved about Meg’s character is how her troubles were not just your average “girl in middle school problems,” but specifically a young girl still coming to terms with how her black identity doesn’t quite conform to the white beauty standards around her.

Meg is a tomboyish black girl in middle school with glasses and natural kinky, curly hair. Throughout the film, she often comments on how she wishes she could wake up as someone else. We see her insecurities bubble over after being relentlessly bullied by a white girl in her class, played by Rowan Blanchard. This is the rare major movie to put these concepts front and center.

Late in the movie, Meg is confronted by the evil alien being known as IT, which presents an image of what it thinks she wants to be. IT promises that he can turn her into this “new and improved,” popular Meg. She is wearing a fitted trendy dress. Her hair is pin straight. Her glasses are gone. She is more confident…everything our Meg isn’t.

But what caught me in this moment was her hair. As a young kid, I went to a mostly white middle school and high school. Any natural style I would have would be mocked. I was told my braids looked like snakes. If I wore my afro, they’d ask if I couldn’t find a comb. It got to the point that all I wanted was to straighten my hair, to be like everyone else, to call less attention to my blackness. In this moment, we see Meg’s desire to do the same, to hide her identity and conform, as IT says. But she rejects that fake version of herself, embracing that she is loved just as she is and that she is beautiful just as she is.

Storm Reid’s acting and her identity as a black girl added so many levels to the character of Meg Murry, levels that book Meg simply doesn’t have. The changes made to her character make the film something more people could connect with and empathize with. Specifically, people who need to meet this character and learn what she learns.

It also felt profound to see myself on screen, to know that both myself and Meg are enough. This may be a children’s movie, but Ava DuVernay clearly knew that I, and countless other adult women, needed to see this.

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