Contains major X-Men: Apocalypse spoilers…
There’s a really interesting thread running on Goodreads right now w/r/t the recent billboard advertisement showing X-Men Apocalypse‘s Mystique being held by the throat. Its title is: Is the Marvel “Apocalypse” movie poster VAW [Violence Against Women]?
And although interesting, the thread soon turns into the usual kind of slanging match: “I’m right,” “No, I’m right, you’re wrong,” “No, you’re wrong, I’m right, and you’re a moron.” It goes on, ad infinitum…
The crux of the matter turns on whether the image promotes Violence Against Women, or whether it is merely “fantasy violence.” Depending on which side you pull towards will probably reflect your sensibilities w/r/t notions of gender inequality and stuff like that.
However, what is missing from the thread (and I’m considering posting something on there, but am hesitant because of the backlash I envisage) is a discussion of Mystique (a.k.a. Raven Darkholme) and the fact that Mystique is a mutant and can therefore adopt any guise – male, female, or anything else of their choosing (using non-gendered pronouns reflect the fact that I view Mystique as more fluid w/r/t the concept of gender – here’s a really great video kind of on that subject, IYI).
In X-Men 2, for example, Mystique kicks Wolverine’s ass good and proper, both in the guise of Wolverine and also in Mystique’s traditional blue get-up. Mystique kicks Wolverine in the balls, properly getting his mad up, and then leaves him panned out on the floor after kung-fu kicking him in the head. In this particular example do we view this as Violence Against Men, Violence Against Women, just plain Violence, or Fantasy Violence?
Basically, there are two points I’m trying to make.
- I’m not so sure that we can move to refer to Mystique as a woman, unproblematically. Mystique is a mutation, just like all the other X-Men. The fact that Mystique is blue kind of hints that Mystique’s not predominantly human – so how can Mystique definitively be called a woman (especially when Mystique spends time in many other guises)? Mystique’s appearance as a Jennifer Lawrence-type-woman is just another disguise.
- Mystique is ultra-violent. Mystique just doesn’t respond with violence if violence is shown. Mystique oozes violence, and will kick anyone’s ass at the drop of a hat. So, if you’re an advocate of violence, as Mystique most definitely is, aren’t you more likely to be subjected to further violence? And, having not seen the film but I’ll take a wild stab at this, doesn’t Mystique willingly take on the big monster thing that ends up grabbing Mystique by the neck? And, so I’ve heard, doesn’t Jean Grey (a human woman who also happens to be a bit mutanty) literally obliterate the monster in the end?
Just because film studios are archaic and can’t get past binary thinking, does that mean we have to sink to their level?