Mattel's venerable, proportion-defying fashion doll Barbie is having a big 2014 — she appeared in the pages of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue earlier this year, and now Deadline is reporting that a live-action Barbie movie is now in development, with production expected to start before the end of the year. The Barbie franchise has long served as a lightning rod for issues surrounding women's body issues and female objectification, but Sony Pictures (who acquired the rights to the film) is pushing Barbie's supposed female empowerment characteristics as the driving theme of the upcoming movie. According to Deadline, the Barbie character will use her "personal and professional skills" to help the lives of others — a role described as a "modern-day Mary Poppins."
President of production for Sony's Columbia Pictures Hannah Minghella confirmed the plans to Deadline, saying that the proposed film "captures everything that has made Barbie a classic for generation after generation while also standing on its own, establishing Barbie as a truly original screen character." Time will tell whether that's true or not, but there's little doubt that a live-action Barbie movie will likely draw a lot of attention from the franchise's detractors. Barbie has long been derided for giving girls an impossible standard to live up to — those who come down on that side likely won't be happy about Sony's massive promotional engine gearing up to push girls to the upcoming movie.