The Legend of Tarzan has been trending worldwide for the past few days and the movie is currently the hot topic on social media, mainly due to Alexander Skarsgård’s robust abdominal muscles. However, as everyone knows, there is no Tarzan without Jane, and news has leaked that Margot Robbie will be portraying the infamous character in a slightly different light. Yes, Jane will be more independent and assertive, a modern adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs character, and will be kicking ass alongside the eponymous hero.
Hollywood is currently in the midst of a remake/reboot frenzy, and it seems no property or franchise is safe from the re-imagination train. One of the trickiest aspects of a reboot is bringing classic material to a modern, younger clientèle, and adapting it for a completely different audience is never as simple as it seems. Bringing the property into the modern day makes the characters — and the story — more accessible, it resonates more with the viewers, and from a financial point of view this is critical for a studio — a decision that could determine success or failure. With such a high heritage and pedigree based in its roots — after all, the first feature film about the character was made back in 1918 — it’s no surprise that The Legend of Tarzan is one property that is focusing on adapting their product for the modern audience.
First of all, the official poster for the movie was revealed via Twitter this week.
Alexander Skarsgard stars in #LegendOfTarzan. In theaters July 2016. pic.twitter.com/miqe6cC9t0
— #LegendOfTarzan (@legendoftarzan) December 9, 2015
However, a Tarzan movie has always been the tale of two halves, or more accurately, two characters. The primary hero is Viscount Greystoke himself, Tarzan, the son of a British lord marooned on the Atlantic Coast of Africa, who soon becomes feral to survive, but we also have Jane Porter, another marooned civilian who brings out the softer side of our favourite wild man. One common aspect of previous entries in the franchise is Jane’s tumultuous position as the damsel in distress, who Tarzan comes to the aid of on numerous occasions. She usually plays second fiddle in the movie, but would this sit comfortably in a modern day society, one where woman and men are portrayed as equals?
The Legend of Tarzan director David Yates spoke to USA Today, discussed how their modern adaptation of Jane will differ from previous incarnations, and explained how she really will stand out as a strong character, rather than someone who relies on her man.
“[She is] in no way a passive partner to Tarzan. She’s a really strong, assertive, beautifully knowledgeable, very sexy modern woman who can more than look after herself. In a way, it’s a story of two human beings and how they save each other.”
The Legend of Tarzan still retains its original classic roots, by taking place in 1880s Victorian London. However, it’s clear that Yates doesn’t want their version of Jane to take a backseat to Alexander Skarsgård’s Tarzan. It also implies that Jane will have a firm involvement in the action of the film, something Robbie is no stranger to. Fresh off a stint as the deranged Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, and scene-stealing turns in Focus and The Wolf of Wall Street, could Robbie be about to cement her legacy as one of the biggest leading ladies in Hollywood? The actress has seen a meteoric rise to stardom in the past few years, due in part to a cool-headed demeanour and tough lady persona that make the role of Jane a perfect casting, but could this be the role that makes her a household name?
New Film Tarzan (2016) CAst @MargotRobbie as Jane pic.twitter.com/fdtQogCVzh
— Movie/Celebrity/♪ (@rikatk) August 29, 2014
The Legend of Tarzan will not be an origin story, that is already clear. Instead, the film will pick up with the human side of his persona, a man who has spent ten years away from his jungle life in the Congo. Tarzan and Jane have been living happily together in London as husband and wife. He then receives a call back to his old home, and the adventure ensues when Jane and his old friends are put in harms way.
With this storyline, portraying Jane as a strong woman who gets involved in the action is a wise move. Whilst former versions of the character did qualify as spunky movie heroines, they tended not to be very heroic, and always relied on Tarzan to get them out of a scrape. Besides, portraying such a strong female character in the 1880s will certainly make for interesting storytelling. With ass-kicking heroines dominating Hollywood nowadays, and Jane standing tall beside Tarzan, rather than hiding behind him, we can expect Margot Robbie’s Jane to be more smart, intelligent Lara Croft than screaming, cowardly Wilhelmina Scott.
Will Margot Robbie’s Jane be a total badass? Find out when The Legend of Tarzan swings into theatres on July 1, 2016.
By Stuart Keane