how to make women look heroic on movie posters

Hey, it’s not all bad news when it comes to women claiming their space in pop culture as the heroes of their own stories.

A bit of background. If you haven’t already seen it, check out this post at Tor.com: “The 19th Century Painting That Most Blockbuster Movie Posters Are Based On” (I linked to it earlier this year). This is the painting:


It’s called “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog,” by Caspar David Friedrich, dating from almost two centuries back, 1818. Ryan Britt at Tor.com deems it “sick-ass,” and it is: it is Man both triumphant and contemplative, master of his world and ponderer upon it. It has been imitated in many a blockbuster poster of late, as Tor illustrates:


You’ll note that, “naturally,” it is always Man triumphant on these posters. I’ve written recently about women with their backs turned on movie posters, which is invariably a way to dehumanize and anonymize women. That needn’t be the case, as those posters with men with their backs turned demonstrate. There, the imagery is about standing up to something that might crush you — it is a stance of power and defiance. Why couldn’t women be portrayed that way on a poster, too?

Turns out they can. And it’s starting to happen. Check these out:



Nice. More like these, please. Which would require, of course, more movies with women in heroic central roles. Make it happen, Hollywood. Make it happen.

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