Pink, Pink, Pink! Greta Gerwig’s Upcoming Barbie


Although it’s only scheduled to hit theaters on July 21, 2023, the new Barbie live-action has already caused quite a commotion on the internet. Fans are eagerly awaiting more information about the plot and cast of the movie from news outlets. Everyone’s excited, and if you aren’t, you should be. I, for one, cannot wait for this movie. Not a lot is known about this upcoming film; however, let’s take a look at what is known and what you can expect from next year’s Barbie: and all the reasons to be excited.

The movie appears to be about a Barbie doll – yes, the famous doll most of us have owned at some point – who lives in “Barbieland” that is kicked out for not appearing “appropriate” or “perfect enough” for their world. Consequently, Barbie sets out on an adventure to the “real world” (based on what we know, shot in LA), where she learns important lessons about the value of a person’s individuality and personality compared to their appearance. Although this might seem like a bit of a cliché, rumors point towards a slightly more complex plot: this film might actually be about the multiverse.

Yes, you read that right: a multiverse of Barbies.

Aside from the two protagonists Barbie and Ken (Barbie’s well-known boyfriend), it’s rumored that a series of other Barbie and Ken’s from other universes might play a significant role in the film. These will look different from the main, blonde, dolls and will be played by different actors. 

These themes may seem ambitious and impossible to have in a cohesive and realistic movie: the ideas of the multiverse and Barbie dolls aren’t ones that often go together. This is especially hard in a movie where the expectations are as high as they are for this one. However, some of the names behind this film suggest that maybe it can be done.

Barbie will be directed by Greta Gerwig and co-written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach. For those who aren’t familiar with them, Gerwig is best known for writing and directing her Academy Award-nominated films Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019) and starring in Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha (2012). Baumbach also wrote and directed Marriage Story (2019) and The Squid and The Whale (2005), earning Academy Award nominations for both. All of these are exceptional films that portray really raw characters with complex issues. Still, here is the most interesting part: Baumbach and Gerwig are married, and this is the first project that they’re writing together. 

Even though their combined talents will certainly add a lot to the film, it is Gerwig’s individualistic artistic tone that makes her the perfect director for this movie. For starters, this film is an embrace of femininity. According to images of the film and the information known, Barbie will have A LOT of pink and stereotypically-feminine characteristics. Although most overly feminine media are seen as less valuable, we can safely predict that Gerwig will ensure that the hyper-femininity that Barbie appears to contain will be portrayed as something just as real, valid, and powerful as any form of masculinity.

More importantly, however, Gerwig has shown to always create a rawness in films, whether it’s from in front or behind the camera. Lady Bird, for example, is known for its authentic portrayal of an average girl’s senior year in high school: not one with soulmates and a physically-flawless protagonist, but one with real, deep internal struggles. It is exactly this authenticity and rawness that makes Gerwig the perfect person to direct Barbie. Writing and directing this film is not an easy job: it is very easy to fall into stereotypical, over-told stories of superficial skinny and blonde girls and a protagonist who’s supposed to be awkward but is society’s definition of beauty. Therefore, Gerwig’s strengths will be necessary to make a concept that’s very artificial and unconvincing (Barbie dolls) into an authentic story that applies to the real world.

Baumbach has similar characteristics as a filmmaker. His movie Frances Ha also portrays an imperfect (and very awkward) protagonist dealing with the average daily struggles of a young adult. From this film to Marriage Story, Baumbach has consistently shown an above-average ability to create characters and stories with complex issues that go beyond clear right-or-wrongs. Although all of this will be essential in the making of Barbie, the film is also very different from his previous movies. Barbie will be an opportunity for him to use his strengths on a concept outside of his comfort zone. 

If the combination of Academy Award nominees Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach isn’t enough to get you excited, all you have to do is to take a look at the cast. Academy Award-nominated Margot Robbie (I, Tonya, Suicide Squad) is set to star in the film as Barbie alongside another Academy Award nominee, Ryan Gosling (La La Land, The Notebook), who is set to play Ken. Also joining the cast are America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), Emma Mackey (Sex Education), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), Will Ferrell (Elf), Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings), and Alexandra Shipp (Tick, Tick… BOOM!), among others. Finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without Gerwig’s true partner in crime: the star of both Lady Bird and Little Women, Saoirse Ronan. 

Although the concept of the film might seem odd or unconventional, the cast and crew behind this prove that this is a movie to look out for. The combination of these people is arguably one of the strongest ones in all of Hollywood currently and it sets expectations high.

A few sightings of the shoot have also created a commotion and more reason to look forward to this film. In late June, the cast and crew were seen on Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California, shooting what appears to be Barbie… roller skating. Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling were seen wearing pink and neon outfits alongside America Ferrera and Will Ferrell roller skating. Gerwig – known for dressing according to the shoot – was present and wearing none other than a pink romper (iconic!)

These sightings, however, caused what perhaps may be the most controversial topic about the film right now: Ryan Gosling’s bleached hair. Many people have criticized his appearance in the images, often saying that he doesn’t look as attractive as usual. However, it’s important to keep in mind that Gerwig’s goal – different from that of the directors of other Gosling movies – is not to make him attractive. Instead, it is to deliver an authentic portrayal of the character. Now, although how good he looks is arguable, we cannot debate the fact that he truly looks like a doll dripping in wax. 

Finally, a small teaser of the film was released just around a month ago, not nearly enough of one to be considered a trailer. The clip opens with a 2001: A Space Odyssey parody, where a voiceover dramatically narrates the beginnings of the culture of dolls in the world until revealing Barbie (Margot Robbie), standing larger than all those around her. Then, a series of clips of the movie flash, one after the other. None of these are enough to suggest the plot; however, they are more than enough to understand the tone and color of the film: extremely camp and vibrant, as expected.

Overall, this movie – more than entertaining – might also discuss relevant topics in today’s society. Aside from promoting the embrace of femininity as powerful rather than fragile, it’ll probably discuss the topic of identity and discomfort in society: both extremely important and relevant to anyone in society but particularly teenagers.

Even though the premise of the film might seem unconventional to some, any fan of director Greta Gerwig can affirm that it is her tone and artistry that will make this film unlike any other movie made. While a lot is still unknown, the Barbie movie is filled with multi-time Academy Award nominees, from the writers and director to a large part of the cast. Who knows? Maybe this will be the movie that’ll finally gain them their Oscars.