MIDWAY : Superwoman

Who needs a male lead when you can have Angelina Jolie? Hollywood has been startled by news that Tom Cruise has dropped out of the forthcoming spy thriller Edwin A Salt to be replaced in the lead by — Angelina Jolie. Of course, Jolie has such a badass image that she can get away with playing an action lead that would traditionally be assigned to a man. And sex-role-reversal is not exactly new.

Dame Judi Dench took over Bernard Lee’s role as “M” in the 007 movies. Mamma Mia: The Movie achieved a similar feat; the Abba song Does You Mother Know? was originally addressed to a younger woman by an older man — a faintly creepy effect that the film cancels out by having an older woman sing it ironically to a pert young stud.

But what would have happened if casting directors had taken this experimental attitude in the past? We could have had Terminatrix, with Melanie Griffith clanking around as the chilling cyborg-assassin, exploiting that star’s somewhat vacant stare to sinister effect, as she smashes up a police station and informs one and all with her trademarked breathy delivery that she will “be back”.

Or perhaps a version of Casablanca set in Ricarda’s place, with Lauren Bacall as the world-weary bar-owner. Or Bette Midler as Mr Doubtfire, the adorable male nanny. Or perhaps

a new, more harshly titled version of Reservoir

Dogs with Sandra Bernhard and Joan Rivers as Ms Blonde and Ms White tying up a cop and brutally attaching an earring to his unpierced ear.

These fantasies are beside the point. Jolie should simply go about remaking every single Tom Cruise film with herself in the role. She could be the Hitler assassin Stauffenberg, and she would wear the eye-patch loads better than Tom.

She could be Madame Phelps in Mission Impossible, lowering herself from the ceiling on pulleys and tapping away on laptops, flexing abs and biceps far more buff than Tom’s. Most importantly, she would be a great navy pilot in Top Gun, and her lethal presence as she “rides someone’s tail” would give us a break from all that tiring 80s suppressed homoeroticism. Apart from everything else, she would be a lot taller.