This weekend, the Veronica Mars movie premiered, bringing the saga of the most famous Kickstarter-funded movie to a close. The film has been met with nearly universal praise yet has only raked in a meager $2 million in box office sales. It’s unclear what the movie’s total earnings will be, since it was released simultaneously on Video on Demand, but, regardless of the dollar signs, this movie is likely the most successful fan-funded films to date. Not only does the movie give the fans what they want, but it actually manages to improve upon the series itself in the few places that needed tweaking.
For those who may be unaware, the movie is based on a three-season-long TV series of the same name, which focuses around a teenage girl who joins her father’s private investigation business after her best friend is murdered. The show is beloved by fans for its witty, on-beat dialogue, its realistic, dynamic and lovable characters, and its realistic portrayal of some real-world problems. The movie delivers on all those goods, and much more, delivering a powerful female character who rescues herself—and everyone around her.
When the movie begins, we are told that Veronica finished up college at Stanford, then graduated near the top of her class at Columbia. She is interviewing for top-tier law positions in New York. Gone are her beachy curls and dramatic eye makeup, replaced with stick-straight hair and a flat face. She handles her interviewers’ pointed questions with ease, then asks at the end of the interview, “Do I look ruffled?”
No, Veronica. You look bored. You’ve faced down murderers, rapists, and child molesters. You can handle some idiot in a suit in your sleep.
The subject of Veronica’s boredom becomes center stage as she answers a call from her ex-boyfriend, Logan Echolls, who is (shocker) being charged with the murder of his pop-star girlfriend. After Veronica leaves New York, leaving her stable boyfriend to, she says, “help [Logan] sort out the shyters,” she repeatedly delays her trip back as she gets further and further into the mystery of the murder. She knows she is giving up her “perfect” life, but Veronica doesn’t want perfect. She wants to be in the fight in making things right.
And therein lies the power of Veronica Mars as a series and as a movie. Veronica is not a character that does homage to “girl power” — a woman who beats her bad guy, then rolls off with her man in the sunset. Veronica is a woman who cares about justice, so deeply that she uproots her life in New York to come back to Neptune to make things right. She doesn’t stay in Neptune for her ex Logan Echolls, and the movie makes no pretense of that. Any person who says that Veronica comes back to Neptune for Logan does not understand Veronica at all.
Her return to Neptune shows the town to be even more driven into class warfare than when she left it, and that does not sit well with her. The police department search cars without warrants and use tasers on juvenile suspects, which Veronica and her father record and use as leverage to get the boys let go. The sheriff’s office plants evidence on Veronica’s an ex-con who has turned his life around to ensure a wealthy citizen stays out of prison (a case that Veronica presumably takes up in her father’s stead at the end of the movie). The sheriff himself openly refuses to consider evidence in Logan’s case, and Veronica catches him on video and outs him at the end of the film.
Veronica realizes, perhaps better than most, that that fight is never over. The movie ends as she puts her feet up on her new desk in Mars Investigations as tge camera profiles a powerful woman who is not only victorious in the battle she faced in the movie, but one who is gearing herself up for a lifetime of it. And that, dear readers, is what a female hero looks like.