The Fast and Furious franchise has come to define a certain type of testosterone-fuelled genre of films that are viewed as something of a 'Boys Club', despite the presence of several strong female characters. Actress Michelle Rodriguez plays one such character in the series, named Letty Ortiz. She explained to Jessica Shaw on SiriusXM's EW Live how the male writers of the franchise often overlook the female characters until being reminded of their existence.

"Guys get excited about their own stories. So it's almost like a forgetfulness. And so it's just kind of like having to remind them gently from the sidelines for years that you exist, you know? And that you're loud and that you're hardcore and that you won't take shit from anybody. All the (male writers) are focused on the guys, period. It's just an egoist natural thing. People just care about themselves usually, or people who look like them or act like them or have the same genitalia, I don't know. It's just how it works."
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The next Fast and Furious movie, F9, has been written by Daniel Casey, a male writer who also wrote the 2018 sci-fi movie Kin. In order to balance out the narrative in terms of the female characters, the studio also brought in an unnamed female writer for the movie, who Rodriguez hinted is a writer for HBO's Westworld, and who, according to the actress's comments on The Jess Cagle Show, brought in a unique worldview to the script for F9.

"She's a freaking awesome African American woman who just gets it, she's down to earth, she's urban. You got to also understand the multicultural aspect of it. It's hard to have a guy from Beverly Hills who maybe sometimes hangs out or listens to hip hop and thinks that he may know what that kind of, you know, rapport is between street kids."

In the past, the female characters of Fast and Furious have been largely incidental to the plot, with Gal Gadot's character leaving the franchise without her absence having any lasting effect on the series plot. It seems this casual treatment of female heroes might change with F9. In the same interview, Michelle Rodriguez also dropped the bombshell that F9 will feature action scenes set in space, although the actress clarified she herself was not going to be part of those particular sequences.

All in all, F9 is shaping up to be something really different for the popular franchise. The female characters are going to be better written. Dominic Toretto's team will venture into space. The fan-favorite character of Han will be making his return from the dead. And John Cena will join the series as Dom's vengeful younger brother.

Directed by Justin Lin, F9 features Vin Diesel, John Cena, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel and Sung Kang, with Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron and Cardi B. The film is expected to arrive in theaters April 2, 2021. The Hollywood Reporter.

Neeraj Chand