Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)
IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)
IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)
BOTTOM LINE: This movie should be the basic model for female representation onscreen: it offers the bare minimum we should accept for the depiction of women in any story that is not confined to a male-only space (which includes the vast majority of human history and 99.9999 percent of stories than can be told about people in the world). If there must be a male protagonist (and the protagonist here certainly did not need to be male), then at least there should be multiple women in significant roles who are not defined as adjuncts to men or children, and who hold gender-neutral power and authority within the story. There are three such women here, and two others with smaller but essential roles, and while they don’t have much in the way of character arcs on their own, their support of the male protagonist is not romantic, not sexual, and could have easily been provided by male characters.
NOTE: This is not a “review” of The Martian! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of The Martian.