The majority of moviegoers rolled their eyes when the toy corporation Mattel announced in 2009 that they had struck a deal with Universal Pictures to develop a movie about Barbie. Mattel had made the announcement. To be sure, Jodie Benson and Michael Keaton would be fantastic in the roles of Barbie and Ken in Toy Story 3, which would be released the year after, but the majority of people couldn’t fathom how a doll known for switching professions and outfits could make for an interesting movie experience.
When you consider the terrible direct-to-video animated films that Mattel regularly produced (no disrespect intended to the genuinely funny Life in the Dreamhouse) and the lengthy development cycle that saw Anne Hathaway, Amy Schumer, Diablo Cody, and other notable names sign on and drop out, it is easy to see why Barbie appeared to be a disaster waiting to happen.
Then, though, there was Greta Gerwig. Margot Robbie plays Barbie, Ryan Gosling plays Ken, and a whole host of actors playing alternate versions of the couple, including Shang-Simu Chi’s Lui, the new Doctor Who Ncuti Gatwa, and Insecure’s Issa Rae. Director Greta Gerwig, who already has two great movies under her belt (Lady Bird and Little Women), brought on an all-star cast. Margot Robbie plays Barbie, Ryan Gosling plays Ken, and Barbie has quickly become one of the most anticipated 2023 films on the internet due to Greta Gerwig’s embrace of the campy ridiculousness of the Barbie brand and her writing partner Noah Baumbach’s participation in the project in the capacity of co-writer.
Given the epic nature of the audience’s anticipation, it is only natural that the first teaser trailer have an epic atmosphere. The famous opening sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey is re-created in the teaser, with the addition of a voiceover by Helen Mirren discussing the history of dolls. Mirren’s voice may be heard saying, “The dolls were always and forever baby dolls,” as the film cuts to pictures of little girls cradling their dolls with innocent-looking faces.
However, as the music from Richard Wagner’s “Also Spoke Zarathustra” begins to play in the background, we see Barbie herself standing there like a monolith. Margot Robbie stares directly into the camera and delivers a knowing wink while dressed in the identical black and white swimsuit that was worn by the very first Barbie doll in 1959. She then goes on to promise an irreverently enjoyable night. This promise is fulfilled in the very last few seconds of the trailer, which show brief shots of Barbies and Kens dancing around their world, which is filled with dreamhouses.