Bend and snap-back: what can we expect from Legally Blonde 3?

by Lucy Sherburn |

In 2001, the world met the fabulous, determined sorority girl, Elle Woods, dressed in pink and perky as can be. When she first graced our screens, she was portrayed as the typical popular girl, a character often written as a superficial trope, and one who could have easily been the subject of a frilly substance-less rom-com. In order to pursue her former boyfriend, Warner, Elle Woods takes a turn into law and subsequently gains an impressive reputation as one of Harvard’s brightest. However, from the very beginning of the film, Elle Woods takes no prisoners, taking down snide sales assistants one day, and supporting her friends the next. She makes sure she defies the label of ‘dumb blonde.’

Legally Blonde is a fabulous blend of humour, romance and brazen feminism. It doesn’t take much searching to find a treasure trove of articles naming Elle a ‘feminist icon.’ She’s a feisty character who doesn’t compromise on her principles, or her sense of style, to excel in the world of law. She’s a character not shaped by society’s expectations of women or (in the end) a shallow love story, but by her own grit and motivation. So, with the announcement of Legally Blonde 3, we’re left to wonder where this character might go.

Reese Witherspoon at the Oscars | Flickr

‘Legally Blonde 3’ will, thankfully feature Elle Woods, played by Reese Witherspoon. This is particularly fortunate in the light of the terribly trashy teen flick ‘Legally Blondes’, featuring the British, twin cousins of Elle Woods, a spin off which is widely considered to undermine the original franchise. With Witherspoon on board, the film itself is off to a strong start, and so the world looks forward to reliving the peppy plots she delivers.

While our lead actress will remain the same, there is also exciting change as Mindy Kaling, creator of ‘the Mindy Project’, will co-write the film. This is alongside ‘Brooklyn 99’ writer (and, much like Elle Woods, Harvard alumnus) Dan Goor.

Much like Elle, Kaling has also been dubbed a feminist icon, with Marie Claire naming her the ‘accidental new voice of feminism.’ In ‘Late Night,’ written, produced by, and starring Mindy Kaling, ideas around inter-sectional feminism, ageism, tokenism and other issues are boldly and tactfully tackled. Might Mindy Kaling be the perfect writer to bring Elle Woods into the present day? Will she weave ‘Legally Blonde’ into new waves of feminism and perhaps explore how she’s matured in the seventeen years since the sequel, ‘Legally Blonde: Red, White and Blonde,’ film was released?

Mindy Kaling | Wikimedia Commons

When looking at bringing Elle into the present day, the first question we might ask ourselves is where, practically, is she now? Its been 17 years since ‘Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde’ showed her getting ‘Bruiser’s Bill’ passed, putting an end to animal testing. She’s an established political force, not to be messed with and happily married to her devoted, supportive, but not-too-meddling husband, Emmett. After their wedding, he asks Elle where she wants to live. ‘I think I know just the place’, Elle slyly suggests, as the camera pans to the White House gloriously pinked-up as it basks in a sunset glow.

In 2015, Vogue reported that Witherspoon envisioned Elle as the President of the United States: ‘I think it’d be kind of a cool thing to have her be a Supreme Court justice or someone who runs for office.’ Having progressed from sorority girl to lawyer to campaigner, it would be fitting to see Elle bring her trademark ‘bend and snap’ to the world’s political stage. Perhaps Kaling and Goor can shine a spotlight on how a blend of unabashed femininity and savvy feminism might enrich the post of POTUS. Indeed, could there be a better, mainstream, pop-culture challenge to boorish Trumpist flag-waving than through the light-touch enlightenment that these writers offer?

Or, might we expect Elle to have adopted a role as prosecutor for the people, taking on institutions and injustice with shrewdness and sequins? Whatever her position, with Kaling and Goor in the writing seats, we can be sure that Elle’s feisty, feminist attitude won’t be dampened, and nor will her perky, fun spirit. We look forward to seeing her back on our screens, making the world a better and pinker place, one ‘bend and snap’ at a time.