One thing that I’ve noticed while looking back on the best movies of the 90s, so very, very many of them are made by who we now recognize as a lot of very, very gross people. The decade saw the rise of Miramax and, by extension, Harvey Weinstein. It saw the proliferation of Kevin Spacey as a major, A-list actor. It saw the rise of Bryan Singer as the mainstream director who would eventually oversee the birth of the X-Men movies and leave an indelible mark on one of this century’s most prominent blockbuster franchises.
The sad fact of the matter is that the man that most people know for transforming an unassuming Australian stage actor into Wolverine and bringing Freddie Mercury back from beyond the pale for one last time in the limelight in one of this year’s Best Picture Oscar nominees is, by all credible accounts, a serial sexual assaulter and abuser of minors – allegations and testimonials of which stretch all the way back to 1997 (and again in 2014, and again in 2017, and again just this year). Yet despite these multiple allegations, both independently verified and credibly made, he has been allowed to continue to work in the film industry until very, very recently.
Although it coalesced with other erratic and inexcusable behavior, Singer’s most recent trouble began during the final days of Bohemian Rhapsody’s (2018) production, when the director disappeared from set for days at a stretch, abused his actors and was (per usual) far more trouble than he was worth. Dovetailing with a fresh batch of sexual assault allegations, he was fired from the project with mere days left in the shooting schedule: so last minute that, per Director’s Guild decree, his name remained as the sole credited director on the film.
Public pressure continued to mount against the director, bolstered by the power of the #MeToo movement, but that didn’t seem to get in the way of his ongoing career. Not only did his name remain on Bohemian Rhapsody, but he continued getting high-profile work. Most notable of these new projects was his perplexing attachment to the upcoming Red Sonja movie. Counterpart to Schwarzenegger’s Conan the Barbarian (1982), it’s a hyper-sexualized fantasy beatdown with a badass woman in the lead. And rather than give it to one of the many talented and underappreciated women laboring everyday behind the camera, they gave it to a credibly accused child rapist.
After months of ongoing and immensely valid criticism, we finally have the first, meager trickle of justice down the pipeline. Not only is Singer off the project, but the film itself has been shelved until its studio takes some time to sort out its priorities. In their statement concerning this cancellation, Millennium Films specifically cited the accusations facing down Singer, although that clearly wasn’t a deal breaker a month ago.
Hopefully now that this unpleasant matter has been sorted out, we can get a better director signed up to helm this film: someone who is not a serial abuser for one. Ideally, they’d actually think to put a woman in charge here, something that should be an automatic go-to in general, and certainly in a post-Wonder Woman (2017) world. Baby steps, I suppose, are better than nothing, though, and at least these ones are decidedly in the right direction.