Over the past week or so, there has been a growing controversy surrounding a billboard for “X-Men: Apocalypse” showing Jennifer Lawrence‘s Mystique being strangled by Oscar Isaac‘s titular villain (see the image above, though it has been altered in the advertising so they looking directly at each other) that has been used in the film’s outdoor marketing campaign. The decision to show a woman in distress as part of the promotional push for a major four-quadrant tentpole rubbed more than a few people the wrong way. The Mary Sue were one of the earliest folks to put 20th Century Fox on blast, writing:
While having a female protagonist disempowered to the point of physical harm is an unfortunate feature of a summer blockbuster, the most problematic aspect of all of this is that Fox decided to use this visual for the film’s promotional campaign.
Yes, Mystique getting choked out is on a poster.
It’s one thing to have this imbalance of power featured in the film itself as part of the plot, but it’s a whole other ball game to pick this single visual out of 144 minutes of film and use it as a representation of your entire movie.
Actress Rose McGowan also expressed her dismay, telling THR, “There is a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is the way to market a film. There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled. The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and frankly, stupid.”
Devin Faraci of Birth Movies Death also weighed in, telling the trade, “Images of violence against women are pretty common in the X-Men universe, which is a pretty violent universe. The problem is taking this one image out of context and having it be an image that is not fantastical in nature…it’s just an image of a big guy choking out a smaller woman.”
20th Century Fox has wasted little time in issuing an apology, saying the following in this statement to THR:
In our enthusiasm to show the villainy of the character Apocalypse we didn’t immediately recognize the upsetting connotation of this image in print form. Once we realized how insensitive it was, we quickly took steps to remove those materials. We apologize for our actions and would never condone violence against women.
So, case closed. No word yet on if they’ll apologize for the actual movie as well.