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How the ‘Evil Dead’ Remake Gender Swapped Ash Without Pissing You Off

How the ‘Evil Dead’ Remake Gender Swapped Ash Without Pissing You Off

Gender-swapped reboots have become something of a *thing* in the entertainment industry, with recent/upcoming takes on films like Ghostbusters, Ocean’s Eleven and even TV’s “Greatest American Hero” flipping the script and turning existing male characters into something we could always use more of: strong female characters.

Of course, there’s been a whole lot of backlash against this progressive and welcome trend, with Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters particularly upsetting the franchise’s core fanbase. Rather than bringing back Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston, Feig instead gave us Abby, Erin, Jillian and Patty; needless to say, many GB fans had already decided they hated the movie long before it was released or a trailer was even shown. Sad, but so very true.

Another gender-swapped reboot, though one that almost never comes up in this conversation, was Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead, 2013’s new take on Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead that replaced iconic badass Ashley J. Williams with Jane Levy’s Mia, a character who, by the end of the film, is familiarly handless and wielding a red chainsaw.

I’d argue, as I tweeted (and Alvarez himself re-tweeted) over the weekend, that maybe the single most admirable accomplishment of the Evil Dead remake is that it gender-swapped Ash without announcing or making a big deal out of it, thereby preventing hardcore fans from going into it with hatred already in their hearts.

In fact, Alvarez pulled off this sleight of hand so effectively that few even noticed.

Many were disappointed by the fact that Ash Williams was not in the remake, but that’s actually one of the most brilliant choices the film makes. It would be impossible to watch anyone else in the role and not compare that person to Bruce Campbell,  so it’s often best for remakes to throw iconic characters like Ash right out the window and start fresh.

Which brings me to one of my favorite aspects of the remake. Though there is no character named Ash, nor one that fully embodies all the qualities of that character, the character’s traits are very much present throughout, as the clever script has a whole lot of fun playing around with the idea of which character is that “Ash” character.

Going into the 2013 remake, it seemed obvious that Shiloh Fernandez’s David was our new Ash. With his short black hair, heroic good looks and familiar-looking blue work shirt, David very much plays the Ash character throughout the majority of the film, as he’s the brother figure who seems most equipped to deal with the Deadite invasion.

A couple of David’s scenes even pay direct homage to Ash scenes from the original Evil Dead, such as him finding a chainsaw in the work-shed and performing a live burial. Further leading us all astray, a scene of David slicing somebody up with a chainsaw was featured in the trailer, though it did not end up in the theatrical release.

But David does not ultimately become the Ash character, a mantle instead taken up Levy’s Mia. While Mia is initially presented as the film’s villain, the tables take a surprising turn in the final act with Mia assuming the role of Ash. With all the others dead, Mia becomes the badass heroine, slaying the demonic creature known as “The Abomination.”

She loses a hand. She equips herself with a chainsaw. She spouts a one-liner.

If Mia had been named Ash, of course, there would’ve been an extreme backlash towards the film. Just as there would’ve been if the marketing tipped its hat to the fact that yes, our beloved male hero has been replaced by a brand new female hero for this particular reboot. Smartly, however, the twist was kept secret… and the name Ash done away with.

But make no mistake, Mia is the Ash of the Evil Dead remake, an ass-kicking, Deadite-slaying heroine who ultimately becomes every bit Ash’s gender-bent equal.

Evil Dead proved that a smart approach is all it takes to make gender-swapping iconic, beloved characters not just inoffensive, but an effective way of breathing new life into old properties. It gave us a female Ash we’d love to see take the lead of an entirely new film franchise, so here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of our new three-lettered hero.

Hail to the queen, baby.



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