Mendelson refers to Entertainment Weekly's behind-the scenes story about Salt, and discusses how the article "is a group pat on the back" for "supposedly amazing progressiveness" since Angelina Jolie plays a part originally written for a man. But the article also includes this tidbit from director Phillip Noyce:
"In the original script, there was a huge sequence where Edwin Salt (the original male protagonist) saves his wife, who's in danger," says Noyce. "And what we found in the new script, it seemed to castrate his character a little. So we had to change the nature of that relationship." In the end, Salt's husband, played by German actor August Diehl (Inglourious Basterds), was made tough enough that he didn't need saving, thank you much.
So… If Tom Cruise plays an action hero, he gets to save his wife, but if Angelina Jolie tries to save her husband, she's castrating him? Interesting. Also interesting: The casting of August Diehl as the husband. It's impossible to know what kind of process the filmmakers went through to choose a "husband" for Evelyn Salt, but take a look at this guy:
Out of all the actors they could have chosen, it certainly seems that the filmmakers picked someone who doesn't fit the traditional ideal of a "manly man." He is not the rugged, brawny type. In fact, he looks like someone who might welcome the help of a strong woman, especially if it's his wife (a CIA officer and possible Russian spy).
The history of film is teeming with damsels in distress. This is 2010: That the filmmakers decided to change a script to showcase a strong woman and yet rob her of her chance to turn the tables and rescue a dude in distress is not only bizarre, but disappointing. There have been films in which a woman "saves" a man emotionally, but why have a kick-ass action heroine if she doesn't get to do all the things the guys do? If Evelyn Salt's husband seemed helpless, would audiences worry that he wasn't good enough for her? And what does that say about what we expect of men… and women?