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:

wandererseafog

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:

wandererposters

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:

catchingfireposter

frozenposter

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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Lisa
Lisa
Fri, Aug 02, 2013 6:54pm

Can I just say David Tennant clearly started this trend with the Hamlet poster?

bronxbee
bronxbee
reply to  Lisa
Sat, Aug 03, 2013 2:12am

oh you beat me to it….

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Lisa
Sat, Aug 03, 2013 10:20am

Well, the designer of that poster did. Not Tennant himself. :->

(The Tor piece includes that Hamlet poster.)

cal
cal
Fri, Aug 02, 2013 7:46pm

And not a glimpse of cleavage. Well done, Hollywood.

Dokeo
Dokeo
reply to  cal
Sat, Aug 03, 2013 12:50am

But…but…but…without boobies in the poster, how will male persons know they should go see it?

OK, cynicism aside, this is a nice development. More like this, please.

Jim Mann
Jim Mann
Fri, Aug 02, 2013 9:11pm

This much older one also did a good job of making the female main character look heroic: http://tinyurl.com/p9kqmr7

David_Conner
David_Conner
Fri, Aug 02, 2013 11:40pm

This is cool for the reasons stated, but I have to say I’m also glad simply to see some movies that are using illustrations with real artistry to them instead of having every single movie poster contain giant photographic head shots of the lead actors.

Bluejay
Bluejay
Fri, Aug 02, 2013 11:58pm

That Frozen poster is storybook-perfect. And the Catching Fire poster just might be the best poster I’ve seen in recent years. The cloud-wings are an excellent touch.

Matt Clayton
Matt Clayton
reply to  Bluejay
Mon, Aug 05, 2013 4:25am

I thought the clouds were more symbolic of Katniss as a symbol of freedom and independence (the vague bird shape remiscent of the pin she wears).

I guess you could see her as a savior of Panem too.

bronxbee
bronxbee
reply to  Bluejay
Sat, Aug 24, 2013 10:14pm

but you still don’t see the girl’s face! and i must admit i’m leery about disney doing my favorite fairy tale…

Matt Clayton
Matt Clayton
Sat, Aug 03, 2013 11:37pm

If a live-action Wonder Woman film ever gets made, would love to see a poster styled like Catching Fire.

Isobel_A
Isobel_A
Mon, Aug 05, 2013 4:29pm

Wow, that After Earth poster is virtually identical to the painting – misty hills and all.

I am very, very happy with the Catching Fire poster. Katniss triumphant, dressed appropriately, no stupid and unnecessary sexualisation.

Bluejay
Bluejay
Thu, Aug 22, 2013 11:21pm

Man, they are really hitting it out of the park with the heroic Katniss posters.

http://www.comingsoon.net/nextraimages/hungergamesbannerslarge1.jpg

RogerBW
RogerBW
reply to  Bluejay
Thu, Aug 22, 2013 11:28pm

Sad that this is so unlike all the other posters. Glad that it’s being done at all.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  Bluejay
Fri, Aug 23, 2013 5:14pm

Hmm. The image I wanted isn’t showing up. Here’s another link.

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/notyetamovie/news/?a=85750

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  Bluejay
Fri, Aug 23, 2013 7:51pm

I’m glad that Jennifer Lawrence looks genuinely heroic on the movie poster. And I’m glad that we live in a world where Jennifer Lawrence is a movie star. But dear God is that an ugly picture. I doubt there’s one inch of it that hasn’t been PhotoShopped. I’d be surprised if the two stars were even in the same room when the photo was taken.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  Danielm80
Fri, Aug 23, 2013 8:53pm

I suppose you’re right. I guess it’s sad that there’s such a dearth of images of women in heroic poses that the poster genuinely seems refreshing and exciting to me.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  Bluejay
Fri, Aug 23, 2013 9:47pm

I think they were aiming for Maxfield Parrish and missed. But at least we can see Katniss’ head.