We’re always looking out for the unsung heroes in films, and Evelyn from Universal’s 1999 cult-classic The Mummy is one such heroine. This bookish beauty had more to offer than meets the eye, as she effectively gave the whole damsel in distress thing a new point of view: a worthy scholar, compassionate lover, and overall badass. Cheers love!Knowledge is power–and sometimes knowledge can resurrect a centuries old mummy skilled in the dark arts and prepared to unleash the apocalypse to seek his lover. That’s the basics of The Mummy (1999), the action-adventure film loosely based on the 1932 black and white horror film staring Boris Karloff. It spawned a decent sequel in 2001, a prequel, an animated series, a less-than mediocre third film (which I won’t speak of…), and soon an explosion-heavy, Tom Cruise centered reboot will kick off the Universal MonstersÂ shared universe.A lot happened in pop culture between the 1932 original and the 1999 remake, mainly the representation of female characters in film. Lucky for us, the commanding British actress Rachel Weisz was tapped for a new spin on the damsel role that had original belonged to actress Zita Johann. From there, the sultry and swooning Helen Grosvenor became Evelyn “Evie” Carnahan, an clever protagonist we’ll forever admire for all the reasons.
EVIE IS A REAL WOMAN
From her first moments to her last in the sequel, The Mummy Returns, Weisz gave an energetic and optimistic portrayal of a real woman dealing with some insane supernatural events. Rather than turning her into an imaginary superhero in a world of ancient fact and mythological fiction, Weisz made EvieÂ a realistic character because of her relatable quirks and charming mistakes.We’re led to believe that Evie is utterly hopeless, as her boss at the Cairo Museum of Antiquities hastily proclaims at the start of The Mummy following an accidental domino-toppling of library shelves. But who hasn’t gotten themselves into a pickle before? I know I’ve had my share of epic blunders in grocery stores (sorry not sorry, aisle 5 at HEB). She actively seeks solutions for her mistakes and as the film progresses, Evie becomes more mature, crafty, and domineering–traits that all great protagonists have in common.
EVIE LOVES KNOWLEDGE
As a book nerd since childhood, I appreciate any and all characters who read with a passion in films. While Disney’s Belle and Anne of Green Gables were my bookish film heroines from childhood, Evie was the book nerd I most associated with as a teenager. What Harrison Ford did for archaeologists, Rachel Weisz did for librarians, adding a proud punch of passion to the often stuffy career path as seen on film.
Learning new things and collecting books wasn’t just a random hobby for her–seeking the Book of the Dead was her life’s pursuit and, in The Mummy, Evie’s love of knowledge led to her ironic mistake–Evie craves knowledge with so much chipper excitement thatÂ she singlehandedly triggers Imhotep’s resurrection. No harm ever came from reading a book, huh? And in an era where the men considered themselves the keepers of knowledge, Evie challenged everyone one and everything with her wealth of wisdom.
EVIE IS CONFIDENT
Real talk: Evie was basically surrounded by men in The Mummy, and even more so in The Mummy Returns with the addition of her young son, Alex. But even in the midst of snooty Englishmen who put her down, rude show-off Americans, and a godly big bad literally chasing after her body, she persisted and proved herself–no one puts Evie in a corner!
Yes, she ends up riding off into the sunset and marrying Rick, but not before she saves his sorry ass from hanging to death in jail. Evie wasn’t an object to begin with, whereas the character Helen Grosvenor was included in the original film primarily as a “good lookin’ gal.” Following strong female characters in pop culture before 1999, like Buffy Summers, Alien‘s Ripley, and Star War’s Leia Organa, Evie was a confident, well-rounded character in a mainly male-dominated film playing a significant role in theÂ plot.
EVIE IS FIERCE AND FEMININE
The daughter of a British explorer and Egyptian adventurer, Evie personified the essence of an early twentieth-century feminist–a unique beauty with a brain, proudly dishing out ancient Egyptian Cliffs Notes in a stunning beaded outfit with gorgeous kohl-lined eyes. And let’s not forget those proper British manners.
Sure, she wasn’t the best at throwing a punch, but girl could run, jump, and ride a camel like no one else in The Mummy. Her role expanded exponentially to twenty-first century feminist in The Mummy Returns, which added tons of action-adventure moments to her character, like spear-fighting her Egyptian rival and dangling out of a dirigible. But she was, first and foremost, an enchanting as well as empowering protagonist.
EVIE IS RICK’S EQUAL
Not too many people can outshine Brendan Fraser‘s comedic timing, but Rachel Weisz delivered some equally hilarious moments. Both outsiders in a sense, Rick and Evie are fighting for validation and together they reach their individual goals with a dash of silliness. They become an action-packed power couple–she saves him, he saves her, and they both save the world!In one of my favorite moments of The Mummy, Evie “the damsel” gives herself up to Imhotep in his final form with complete composure–no screaming, no fainting–trusting that Rick, “the swashbuckling hero,” has her back just as much as she had his. They exceeded their original tropes from 1932 with ease. And this mutual understanding went beyond a single life debt–they loved and respected each other as equals and would rather save the world together than go at it alone.What are some of your favorite moments from 1999’s The Mummy? Share the love with us below!
Images and GIF Credit: Universal