Unafraid To Stir The Hornet's Nest: How Greta Gerwig Dared To Make A Barbie Movie

Unafraid To Stir The Hornet's Nest: How Greta Gerwig Dared To Make A Barbie Movie
Image credit: Legion-Media

The director wanted to project different attitudes towards the titular doll, who is perceived as both a 'hero' and a 'villain'.


  • Barbie became this year's most successful film despite all odds.
  • Greta Gerwig was cautious about the public's perception of her film.
  • It was a huge leap of faith for the director.
  • She expected criticism for alleged anti-male bias.

It's been almost five months since Barbie hit theaters, and many more films have premiered since then, but Greta Gerwig's comedy remains the ultimate hit of 2023. After earning a mind-blowing $1.44 billion at the box office, it's both the year's and Warner Bros.' highest-grossing production, which is a feat considering it's a non-franchise film. What's more, it's bizarre that a movie about a children's toy would be so popular.

Set in fictional Barbieland, a radical feminist utopia where every woman is a Barbie who can be and do anything, and every man is just an embellishment, Greta Gerwig's film follows Margot Robbie's Barbie as she suddenly falls into a depression that ruins her perfect world. Wrapped in hilarity, the film explores the themes of mental health and patriarchy, sometimes ridiculing our society's male-centric norms a little too much. Needless to say, the director had her own concerns before taking on Barbie.

Greta Gerwig's Doubts About Making Barbie

Though the Barbie director is currently basking in the adoration of fans and reaping the rewards of her labor, she admittedly had certain concerns about the success of her production when she began working on it.

'There is, like, a moment when you're like, "Wow, I'm way out there". Like, if this doesn't work, it will be very public,' Greta Gerwig said laughingly of her concerns about Barbie. 'It will be an extremely public one [fiasco]. You know, you might as well take those big swings. I mean, literally the worst thing that can happen is it's terrible, nobody likes it, and it bankrupts the studio. How bad [would that be]? As bad as not making it [the movie]? Maybe not.'

Is Barbie a Man-Hating Film?

According to Gerwig, she immediately understood the impression her comedy might make on some people, and she simply dared to ignore such possible misconceptions.

'There were lots of questions about, like, "Should we be saying this or walking into this stuff?" But my feeling was people already know it's a hornet's nest, we cannot make something that pretends to be other than that,' the director commented on her picture being a risky enterprise.

After all, Barbie is a comedy, and it is meant to make fun of everything it depicts. But certainly it was never meant to be misandrist.

'The movie is meant to be a big-hearted thing even though it's poking fun at everyone. I've planned this in my head, I'll just say it. I thought, "Well, this is not man-hating anymore than Aristopanes' Lysistrata was man-hating," which does not sound like a sick burn when you say it outloud like that,' Gerwig said, alluding to the famously provocative Ancient Greek play.

Source: YouTube.