X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Billboard Garners Backlash

Still from 'X-Men: Apocalypse'
Still from 'X-Men: Apocalypse'
Credit: 20th Century Fox

A billboard for X-Men: Apocalypse which depicts Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique being choked by Oscar Isaac's Apocalypse has garnered backlash for its depiction of violence against women. The billboard approximates the promo image seen above.

Actress Rose McGowan has led the charge against the billboard, which is on display in both Los Angeles and New York, telling The Hollywood Reporter "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,” she continued. “The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and frankly, stupid. The geniuses behind this, and I use that term lightly, need to to take a long hard look at the mirror and see how they are contributing to society. Imagine if it were a black man being strangled by a white man, or a gay male being strangled by a hetero? The outcry would be enormous. So let’s right this wrong. 20th Century Fox, since you can’t manage to put any women directors on your slate for the next two years, how about you at least replace your ad?"

Jennifer McCleary-Sills, director of gender violence and rights for the International Center for Research on Women, supported McGowan’s statement, but also called for context for the image.

"I do see it as problematic," explained McCleary-Sills. "I understand that some might not see it as an issue because it is a film about violence … with male and female characters who are warriors and fighting each other as equals." 

"Here's the thing: Where do we draw the line?" she continued, rebutting the idea that the X-Men’s status as mutants should exempt their depiction from the standards put forth by critics of the billboard. "They morph into humans and most of their interactions are similar to what humans would have while as mutants. … The fantasy life can involve violence against women, and that shows how normalized it is. The argument that it shouldn't be offensive because they are mutants doesn't hold any water, … and what really is the challenge here is the intentionality of it. You could have chosen any from the thousands of images, but you chose this one. Whose attention did you want to get and to what end?"

McCleary-Sills concluded by saying “There are no silver bullets” to combating what she calls the casual depiction of violence against women. "I'm glad that a bit of a stink has been raised about this and that people are being provoked to think about why this image isn't OK and why [the studio] could've done better."

Neither the studio nor X-Men: Apocalypse producer Lauren Shuler-Donner responded to THR's requests for comment.

X-Men: Apocalypse is currently in theaters.

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