Four years after her father's mysterious disappearance, Meg (Storm Reid) discovers a rip in the fabric of time and space—the same one her dad (Chris Pine) stumbled through—and goes on a whirlwind adventure to bring him home.
About halfway through the film, Meg finds herself stranded on Camazotz, a planet shrouded in darkness that's holding her father hostage. Her magical companions, Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) can no longer accompany her, so they bestow gifts to help her on her journey.
"Meg, I give you your faults," says Mrs. Whatsit.
"My faults?" Meg cries.
"But I’m always trying to get rid of my faults!"
"Yes. However, I think you’ll find they’ll come in very handy on Camazotz."
That they do. Withdrawn, stubborn, angry, Meg believes she's not enough in the real world. Not quiet enough, not soft enough, not pretty enough, not good enough. But on Camazotz, a planet that thrives on everyone thinking just like everyone else, Meg's otherness is her advantage.
This is one of the many reasons why Ava DuVernay's big screen reimagination of author Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 classic A Wrinkle in Time is revolutionary.
The children's film has already shattered some of Hollywood's glass ceilings before its release. DuVernay, whose mission is to "feminize fantasy," is the first black woman to direct a film with a budget of over $100 million, and Wrinkle is one of a seldom few sci-fi films starring a woman of color; possibly even the only one centering a mixed race black girl.
Finally, children—especially young women—can see themselves in a blockbuster sci-fi movie. During a press conference, Mindy Kaling detailed her own tragic love affair with a genre that doesn't love her back. "I never saw any representation of a dark-skinned Indian woman, Indian girl, anybody, in anything that I saw," said Kaling. "And it’s a really peculiar thing when you grow up loving something that shows you no love back. It’s such a pure love because you’re not getting anything from it."
Kaling added, "To be part of this, and to be on a green screen stage in harnesses because you’re doing a science fiction fantasy movie, it’s so fun because I finally feel welcomed with open arms to something that has ignored me completely."
While A Wrinkle in Time is a tale of intergalactic proportions; its heart is what makes it truly empowering. When Meg and her jock love interest Calvin (Levi Miller) get separated from her younger brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), the earth begins to violently erupt beneath them. They run, but quickly realized they're trapped.
Meg's days of studying physics alone in her room help her figure out an escape route and shouts her plan to Calvin mid-chase. Calvin, who'd rather try to outrun the threat, is skeptical at best, but Meg stands firm. "Do you trust me?" she yells over the world falling down around her.
And he does. It's a brief moment, but how many times in fantasy cinema can you recall a boy following a girl's lead?
DuVernay discussed how monumental this movie was for girls, but also how vital it could be for young boys as well. "This is something for boys too. Boys need to be able to see themselves be vulnerable and themselves be able to follow a girl and just not always have to be macho."
Co-star Zach Galifianakis agreed, "I think it’s good because it’s nice for young boys, young men even, to see that it is okay to have a sensitive side of you." He added, "I think when young boys in this climate, they are seen as sensitive, they’re made fun of. But that doesn’t mean they’re not—it means they’re stronger to me."
Allowing children to see powerful heroes that are female, or nerdy, or angry, or black, or white, or mixed, or soft-spoken, or stubborn, or all of the above, shows us that our "flaws" are not only what make us special, but empower us to do something that's never been done before. And what's more magical than that?
A Wrinkle in Time is in theaters everywhere today. Watch the trailer below!