Oh, it could be worse. I could think of her in Catwoman instead. Honestly, I’ve admired her for years because she collected her Razzie in person. My fondness for the Razzies themselves has diminished since then—it must be nice getting that much attention for going after all that low-hanging fruit. Not to mention the transphobia and misogyny. Still, there is something to be said for a person willing to stand up and say, “Yup, this terrible movie I was in sure was terrible.”
Now, you can’t blame her for wanting to take the role. Either role, really. As Catwoman, she doubtless saw herself as an heir to Eartha Kitt, and why wouldn’t you want to be an heir to Eartha Kitt? As for Storm, think about how Storm has been done in the comics and how Storm was done in the animated show of my childhood and ask yourself if she had any reason to assume the role would be as terrible as what we got. Both of those roles should have and likely did leave her with the expectation that she’d be the first black woman to be a success in a superhero movie.
Sure, a lot of people probably think she should’ve stuck to Serious Dramas. Goodness knows she proved herself in them. Yes, the Oscar for Monster’s Ball, which she brought to the Razzies ceremony. (Did I mention I love her?) And of course her debut performance in Jungle Fever, which is one of the all-time great debuts. She is fantastic. An incredibly talented actress. Now, we would here get into a conversation about roles for women her age, and black women in general, and black women her age, in Hollywood, and that’s a mighty depressing conversation at the best of times.
But this time, I’d like to ask why she should have to do that kind of role. I mean, great if she wants to. And an Oscar for a Serious Drama is definitely better than twelve episodes of a Who’s the Boss? spin-off, which she did in 1989. But one of the things you have to say about Halle Berry is that she has always taken a wide variety of roles. She’s a Bond girl, after all. She’s done comedies and dramas and a terrible animated movie that I saw in the theatre. And if she wants to play a superhero, why shouldn’t she play a superhero? Even leaving aside their cultural weight, it’s a persistent kind of snobbery to say people are wasting their talents when they’re clearly just . . . acting in movies they want to act in.
Okay, so she later (at the Razzies, in fact) blamed her agent for Catwoman. One can only assume for convincing her to do it without reading the script first. It tells you a lot that the X-movies never quite seemed to know what to do with Storm, one of the easiest characters to get right. I can think of a dozen aspects of the character that they could have emphasized any one of which would have been better than “stands there looking pretty and not saying much.” Not that Halle Berry is bad and standing there and looking pretty, you understand, but there was so much more they could have given her.