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A Few Suggestions That Will Make Barbarella Better…Maybe

On Intro to Geek, I expressed my loathing for the 1968 film, Barbarella starring Jane Fonda. The practical and special effects were darn right awful, the acting left much to be desired, and the heroine was actually no hero at all. Despite some genuinely silly moments in the movie, the movie itself was just one big, moving, slightly censored Tijuana bible based on a science fiction comic. Probably the only few good notable bits of trivia to come out of this movie is that the villain’s name, Durand Durand, inspired the name of a particular pop band in the 1980s, Barbarella is the first female comic book character to ever be adapted onto film, and…I’ve got nothing else.

Since 2010, the idea of remaking Barbarella has been kicked around so much, it might as well be a soccer ball. The latest news we heard was last year when Drive director Nicholas Winding Refn expressed an interest in bringing the science fiction’s sex kitten to the small screen, and maybe bring along Christina Hendricks along for the ride. I’ll remain cautiously optimistic about whether or not a Barbarella remake will ever come to light, but while we wait for more news to trickle in, here are some ideas that could instantly make the TV show better than the movie:

1. Turn Barbarella back into an outlaw.

In the original French comic by Jeane-Claude Forest, Barbarella planet hopped throughout the galaxy as an outlaw rather than a secret agent of Earth. Being an outlaw opens up a wider avenue for hijinks and conflict, especially from both sides. And although these are more mercenary and bounty hunter type angles, I can see Barbarella fitting into the Firefly or Cowboy Bebop scene pretty well. Outlaw Star comes to mind as well, and that show has guilds of bad guys!

2. Barbarella needs to actually do something.

In the 1968 film, Barbarella came off more as a bumbling damsel in distress than anything else. I don’t recall her actually performing any sort of heroics. She instead stumbles into captivity time and again only to get away because she is either able to withstand a death-by-snoo-snoo-machine or she is saved by some guy who did it all for the nookie — I’m sorry, that was a terrible 90s reference. We need a strategist, a fighter, an ace shooter who fancies herself a larger-than-life shot gun and name it Vera. Let’s turn her into a bad ass combined with the grace and keen wit of Inara from Firefly and the tough as nails, take no sh*t from no man attitude that can only be matched by Wonder Woman. Can you imagine if Inara and Gina Carano were made into one person, and THEN became Barbarella? Has cloning been perfected yet? Can we make Inara a real person?

3. Keep it light.

I know the tendency might be to take a more serious, darker approach, but to that I say, “Eh…not so much.” When the use of a woman’s sexuality is in the overall subtext of the show, it’s best not to either scare men off with a true Emma Frost approach to sex (manipulative and domineering) nor have mothers hide their children’s eyes while they rabble on in disgust over all the soft-core porn action on their flat screens. In regard to drama and action, I think it wise not to overwhelm ourselves with another Battlestar Galactica. Though great and awesome…that approach might not work for Barbarella. I say keep the tone lighter rather than have a full-on serious action show. Firefly had enough humor in between the more serious and action-packed scenes to keep us from feeling drained. I’d almost go as far as taking the tone to the level that SyFy’s Eureka had. It was smart, quirky, and an overall joy to watch when it wasn’t on an extra-long hiatus. Just add a few aliens and you’re golden.

Syfy’s Lost Girl could be a perfect model.

4. More adventures on Lythion.

In the movie, the icy location was not called Lythion. Instead it was merely dubbed Planet 16. Her being there in the first place held no real relevance either. What I did like about Planet 16 was all creepy children armed with homicidal wind-up toys. Let’s expand on that, please? Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t mind a few horror-themed episodes. Speaking of horror, Lythion is where an earlier villainess resided. Known as the Gorgon, this character had the ability to change her face to resemble any person who had the misfortune of looking at her. This could play out to be an exciting episode where Barbarella has to capture the Gorgon and find out where the bombs are hidden. Or the Gorgon is an interstellar thief with a penchant for leaving bodies as her calling card. I’m just shooting ideas out in various directions (like a Storm Trooper!). These are how ideas are made, kids.

5. Lets try to keep our pants up.

I know Barbarella is all about love, man. Sex was happening all over the place, and most of the time for no reason. The comic itself was all about the sexual freedom that took place at the time. Despite all the criers for abstinence, I’d say America is pretty liberated from its once prudish nature. The comic was also a counter cultural piece for that era. For today’s audience, instead of concentrating on sex, we should see what else there is to explore. I’m sure it will come to any one of us, but right now I’m drawing a blank. What left is there to counter? What new concept can we explore? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Sex is great. We love sex blowing up on our screens, just ask the internet. But for the sake of preventing our eyes from accidentally popping out from too much rolling, sex needs to be there for a reason — at least sometimes if not all the time. In an interview, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staple’s, creators of the comic book series, Saga, they state that “…everything we put into the book is there to advance our story, not (just) to shock or titillate….” If you know anything about Saga, it’s a science fiction/fantasy hybrid that exhibits quite a few racy scenes. Even Apple tried to drop the digital version at some point. The same goes for the constant tearing off all of Barbarella’s clothes. Once was fine during the movie. Metal teeth were biting at her to eat her flesh. After that it became too much.

Do you watch the porn, or does the porn watch you?

So there are my ideas. Do you have anything else you’d like to see brought to the table if they decide to follow through with this remake? Feel free to start the conversation below in the comments section.

The Author

Christina Janke

Christina Janke

Host of "Intro to Geek" on Shauncastic.com. Her love of all things Mass Effect knows no bounds. She also carries an obsession with comic books, video games, and quirky television shows. Her heroes are Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Gail Simone, and hopes to be just like them when she grows up.

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