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Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful In my review of “Oz the Great and Powerful,” I mentioned that one of the things that rubs me the wrong way is the character of Theodora, played by Mila Kunis.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet and wish to remain unspoiled, you might want to stop reading here.

When Oscar “Oz” Diggs (James Franco) crash-lands in the faraway, magical, colorful land known as Oz, the first person he meets is Theodora. She reveals that she’s a witch, and it appears that she’s a good witch.

She’s even wearing cool leather pants and a dashing red jacket – kind of a departure from the long, flowy gowns women wear in these types of stories. Score one.

But after one night with the charming Oz, Theodora immediately gets clingy and decides they’re going to spend the rest of their lives together. After all, he’s the long-awaited Wizard of Oz, a.k.a. the king, they’ve been expecting, and she’ll be his queen. They’ll rule over Oz together, and everything will be wonderful.

Oz being Oz, he doesn’t exactly go for that idea. He wants the riches and power, but he’s too much of a ladies’ man to stick with one woman for the rest of his life. When he rebuffs her, Theodora goes ballistic, starts throwing fireballs, and eventually turns into that putrid green Wicked Witch we know from “The Wizard of Oz” (though due to rights issues, Mila Kunis’ green is much prettier than Margaret Hamilton‘s green, but that’s a matter for another story).

Frankly, the fact that Theodora would go nuts after a mild flirtation gone wrong  — to the point of turning evil and terrorizing Oz FOREVER! — doesn’t exactly bode well for the female set. Plus it sends the wrong message to young girls.

Sure, fairy tales have historically gone the route of women needing a big strong man to protect and rescue them. Only recently did Disney start delivering strong princesses like Merida, the free-spirited, independent archer from “Brave”; Rapunzel, the fearless explorer from “Tangled”; and Mia Thermopolis, Anne Hathaway‘s princess who decides she doesn’t need a man to run the kingdom of Genovia in “The Princess Diaries.”

With a chance to re-imagine the beginnings of the great land of Oz, it seems like they missed a perfect opportunity to flesh out the character of Theodora beyond the “woman scorned” role. I guess they needed some reason to turn her into the Wicked Witch, but couldn’t it have been something besides being shunned by Oscar Diggs?

On the other hand, I love Michelle Williams‘ character Glinda, who’s strong and wise, even as she’s still very feminine and gentle. She kind of made the movie for me.

What do you think? Am I expecting too much from the story? Are you ok with Theodora turning evil because of a man? 

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23 COMMENTS

  1. I haven’t seen the movie yet but wanted to read your review anyway. I don’t like that such a simple matter turned her evil and green. I think even Annabelle, who is only 7, would roll her eyes at that one. (But ever notice how little it takes for someone in a crime drama to kill someone with a pair of scissors? It’s not much–in tv/movies anyway). I loved Brave and so did Annabelle–girls riding horses, shooting arrows, and NOT wanting to be a princess were all things she could stand behind. 😉 You’ve still piqued my interest tho.. have to see the flick.

    • It wasn’t so much him scorning her that made her turn green and pure evil, her sister fed her a cursed apple which Destroyed what was left of her heart. Now since she no longer had a heart her body was poisoned by the evil and then turned green.

  2. Being a man in a world where men who obsess over women are referred to as stalkers or worse, a woman cast in that role is a refreshing change. Whats sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose!

  3. While the point made in this article is relevant, there are about a million things that are sexist about “Oz the Great and Powerful” that it failed to mention. 1) Every female character in it was naive and gullible (ex: the little girl at the beginning, all the girls that Oz gives the music box to, all the witches in some way). 2) When Oz arrives in the town with the good people of Oz, there are 3 groups of people. There are the munchkins, the simple folks (with women only baking and sewing), and the smart people. There were no female Tinkerers! They were only good for sewing and making food, not for using their brains. That is incredibly sexist!

  4. I agree that the plot was thin and rushed there–that Theodora really became the woman scorned quite quickly, and her dependence on Oz was ridiculous. But she’s also not the heroine, nor the character that young girls *should* or *would* be looking up to, in this film. She’s one of the villains and therefore has multiple fatal flaws, including it seems this weak obsession with a man after spending one night with him. Glinda is really the great and powerful woman behind the man, and the character that girls will probably look up to most (as it seems you did!). Of course, I don’t really think EVERY woman in EVERY movie or work of art needs to be a glowing example for young girls of what they should aspire to be, either (let’s have them look within themselves and to strong figures in their own lives for that!). Nor do I think that if there are weak female characters the work of art should immediately be written off as sexist. There are all kinds of women out there including–yes! Le gasp!–ones who pine for the wrong guy. Kind of funny, actually, that the movie shows young girls what awful things might happen to them (and their skin-tone and noses) if they get too obsessed with a d-bag.

    • I concur with everything you said. I was looking for reviews do to the fact my husband saw one that said “OZ uses his powers to “bed” the women and he didn’t want our kids to see such a thing. Doesn’t sound quite so bad after all.

  5. I didn’t think the movie was that sexist for different reasons, but in the case of Theodora, I would understand why people would feel that way if the people who made the movie hadn’t emphasized what sort of character she would be. Theodora is innocent and naive, so said by everyone even her own sister. She herself believed that she would be alone for the rest of her life, so when Oz came and showed interest in her, it was probably wonderful. Secondly, she didn’t suddenly start throwing fireballs. Theodora was heartbroken and as a good witch, she didn’t like hurting others. It was because of her sister that she became that way with an enchanted apple. Mayby i’m just very empathetic, even to make believe characters, but I thought their way of handling Theodora was nice because of how well it tied to Oz and her conflict with him. Reading another comment, I do think some people are reading too much into what gender certain extras are, and how they act. By calling this movie sexist, you’d be calling thousands of other movies sexist at the same time.

  6. My six-year-old granddaughter loved Brave. This prequel does not sound attuned to the world today and the young women who must learn to live in that world. I think I will recommend that she read the Wizard of Oz and imagine what came before.

  7. Jane,
    I was reading this just after receiving a prospectus inviting contributions to an academic collection on how women are portrayed in film/tv and the effect of that on how women are viewed in general. wonder if anyone wil decide to write about OZ?

    (aside: one of the subject areas was a rather gloomily phrased question wondering if there are any strong women characters in film/tv today. Glinda could be one, sounds like; I’ll bet you could come up with others. my immediate thought was Kate Beckett…)

  8. You clearly missed one of the major plot points and are trying to push feminism simply for feminism’s sake by trashing a great movie and taking things way out of context… (major spoilers follow if you haven’t seen the movie!) After Oz broke Theodora’s heart she never threw any fireballs or went psycho etc, she cried and got all depressed (which is understandable considering how betrayed she felt, it has nothing to do with gender). Her sister, the true wicked witch, then offered to give her an enchanted apple which would take the pain away by making her heart impenetrable, and out of impulsiveness, not to mention trust in her sister, she took a bite. She was characterised as being naive, not as a woman but as a character, whereas her sister was the savvy one as she immediately saw through Oz while Theodora still naively believed he was the prophesised wizard and could bring peace to the land etc. It’s not a case of sexism, she was simply an optimistic idealist. What turned her evil was the magic apple, which withered away her heart and all good inside of her, leaving nothing but hatred and twisting her physical form into the vile green witch we all remember. Her motivation to eat the apple was to escape the pain of betrayal, but that’s not what turned her evil, her wicked sister saw to that.

  9. It kinda upset me that becoming ugly made the two witches evil, and the one who stayed feminine and beautiful was the one who rules – along with the con artist who becomes king.

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