Meet the Women Who Helped Bring ‘The Martian’ Home

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This past weekend I saw “The Martian. Despite the movie’s overwhelming male presence, several women stood out vital to the story.

Adapted from Andy Weir’s novel, the film is about astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who is stranded on Mars after his crew presumes him dead. With no way to contact Earth or his crew members, Watney uses ingenuity to survive.

Though the majority of the film revolves strictly around Damon’s character, who takes up the most screen time, Watney’s rescue is owed to the women of the film.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

  1. Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain)
Commander Melissa Lewis. Photo Courtesy of Foxmovies.com.

Commander Melissa Lewis. Photo Courtesy of Foxmovies.com.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to find out that the Commander of the Ares III mission to Mars was a woman. She holds a PhD in Geology and according to the Ares III Mission Guide, Lewis is the first woman to lead a mission to Mars.

It was Lewis’ tough decision to leave Watney behind on Mars, to protect the rest of her crew. When she and her team are informed he is still alive, they decide to go against NASA and implement a risky plan to save their comrade. Ultimately it is due to Lewis’ quick thinking and bold actions that the entire Ares III crew returns safely home.

2) NASA Director of Media Relations (Kristen Wiig)

NASA Director of Media Relations. Photo Courtesy of The Martian on Facebook.

NASA Director of Media Relations. Photo Courtesy of The Martian on Facebook.

Though Montrose’s character does not appear to stand out in the film, her role is important. As PR Director, it is Montrose’s job to hold media press conferences that turn PR disasters into successful publicity. Her efforts not only rallied the masses all over the world to root for Watney, but it also caught the attention of the Chinese whose help was invaluable to the mission.

3) Astronaut Beth Johanssen (Kate Mara)

Astronaut Beth Johanssen. Photo courtesy of FoxMovies.com

Astronaut Beth Johanssen. Photo courtesy of FoxMovies.com

On Ares III Johnson’s role is System Operator and Reactor Technician. It is because of her skills and her role on the ship that the crew is able to view messages from NASA mission Directors Vincent Kapoor and Mitch Henderson, against the orders of Teddy Sanders (Head of NASA).

4) Satellite Runner Mindy Park (Mackenzie Davis)

Satellite Runner Mindy Park. Photo courtesy of The Martian Facebook.

Satellite Runner Mindy Park. Photo courtesy of The Martian Facebook.

It is Park (with Kapoors’ help) who first discovers Watney’s live presence on Mars. She runs the satellites that take pictures of Mars and subsequently monitors him.

In the film, however, Park is disappointingly white-washed. Read more about it here.

5) Deputy Chief Scientist Zhu Tao (Chen Shu)

Actress Chen Shu (in red) pictured at the premiere for The Martian. Photo courtesy of The Martian Facebook.

Actress Chen Shu (in red) pictured at the premiere for The Martian. Photo courtesy of The Martian Facebook.

Zhu Tao’s role is minimal but significant. As a scientist for the China National Space Administration she offers NASA a classified payload booster used to send vital supplies to Ares III.

The Martian“, currently in theaters, is a film filled with funny and tense moments. Despite its male-heavy presence I recommend you go watch!

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