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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? X-Men: Days of Future Past


Jennifer Lawrence’s complex antagonist and lots of female mutants make for a respectable showing, particularly for the genre.


[no significant representation of girls/women]


Is there a female villain or antagonist? [why this matters]

Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]
More than one? [why this matters]


[no issues]


Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]
Is he rebuked for it, either directly (by a character onscreen) or indirectly (by how it is depicted)? [why this matters]


Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

In the full rating criteria, I have an accommodation for a film in which a women appears fully nude… but so does a man. It allows for the latter to almost entirely balance out the former (read the explanation for why it doesn’t completely balance it out). I think that pointage works for this film, too, because even though Jennifer Lawrence is basically nude in her base Mystique form — the actress is covered by body paint and not much else — she is technically not nude; she is not shot in a gratuitous or salacious way, either. Plus, Hugh Jackman appears actually nude, though only from behind. It seems to me that director Bryan Singer is making an attempt to be equitable with his film’s nudity (even though we’re a long way from male nudity being on a par with female nudity onscreen).


IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes, one of three credited (Jane Goldman) (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: Jennifer Lawrence’s spectacular and complex antagonist and lots of female mutants — including Ellen Page’s, whose powers are absolutely essential to the plot — make for a respectable showing, particularly for a genre not typically friendly to women’s representation.

Click here for the ranking of 2014’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of X-Men: Days of Future Past! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of X-Men: Days of Future Past.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)

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posted in:
where are the women
  • Nina

    I’m hoping that the “Rogue cut” that’s due out this year adds to the lady mutant awesomeness of this movie.

  • Jurgan

    I’m surprised by this, given that, in the source material, it was Kitty Pryde who went back in time, not Wolverine. I know adaptations should be judged on their own merits, but one of your questions is “could the protagonist have been female without significantly affecting the plot?” I figured it would lose points if the protagonist actually was female in the source material and was deliberately changed to a male (Hugh Jackman gets butts in seats, I suppose).

  • I won’t be comparing source material to films based on them in this project. (It’s not feasible: I won’t have read the source material most of the time, for one.) This film series revolves around Wolverine, so I think it *would* have made for a significantly different film. Because this film is dependent on the relationship between Xavier and Logan that has been developing over many films.

    Also: How closely does this film adhere to the comic? I haven’t read it, but my impression when it comes to comic book movies is that they take bits here and there but couldn’t really be characterized as direct adaptations of any particular story.

  • Fed Up

    Because you know, ALL movies have to represent women….. what misandrist BS.

  • Jurgan

    I’m going on second-hand knowledge, here. I haven’t actually read the comics myself (or seen the movie, for that matter). So I wasn’t saying that you should have taken off points for the protagonist being male when it could have been female, just wondering why you didn’t. It may be true that, given the movie universe that has been established, it had to be Wolverine in the lead. Sort of like how, in the upcoming Avengers movie, Ultron was created by Iron Man instead of Ant-Man- it wouldn’t make sense to have a character who hasn’t even been introduced be that central to the story.

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