Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Women in X-Men: First Class (Spoilers)


It makes me sad when there’s a movie I really want to see, and that does so many things right, but that seems to go out of its way to belittle, objectify, and/or marginalize women. Below I’m going to mention some of the things in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS that upset me. To do so, I will have to mention some spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.




In the movie, women are repeatedly depicted:

1. Scantily clad in their lingerie (Moira, Emma, Angel), naked (Mystique), or with the zipper of their uniform pulled way down (Mystique)

2. As sex workers (Angel, Emma)

3. As being interested in relationships almost to exclusion of all else (Mystique)

4. As bad at their jobs because of their interest in men (Moira, Mystique)

Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad if *any* of the men were depicted these ways. They aren’t. They are focused, concerned with big issues, powerful, and driven. They wear clothes.

But the worst for me were these two scenes:

1. Xavier and Erik encounter Emma Frost as she is performing her sex worker duties. Instead of being badass, Emma does not use any of her powers, but runs straight at the two men, as if she will squeeze between them and somehow escape. In short, she’s completely stupid and incompetent — despite the fact that she is powerful enough to fight both men at the same time in a previous scene.

The men capture her easily. Erik uses the metal in the bed frame to bind her arms wide apart, and then wraps another metal coil around her throat. Um, yeah. Meanwhile, the two men are fully clothed and standing over the lingerie-clothed Emma Frost, in complete power over her. Erik proceeds to choke her almost to death while Xavier asks him to stop, but does nothing to help her.

Yeah, I have a problem with this scene. A big problem. This scene makes me feel like the screenwriters hate women. This scene makes me angry and extremely sad.

2. Xavier erased Moira’s memory without her consent, and with a kiss. Because women can’t be trusted, and because he knows Moira won’t object to the kiss? Or because women are just so cute and easy to manipulate because of all those gosh-darned hormones? Oh, and she’s not mad at all, she blushes when she mentions the kiss at her office — in front of an entire contingent of powerful CIA agents who already think they were crazy for letting a woman into their midst.

*shakes head*

At the end of the film, the only mutants remaining on the side of “good” are white men. All the women and PoC have either died or gone off to fight with Magneto.

I wish I could have gone with them.

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • That's so disheartening. The White Queen? The White Friggin' Queen let's Magneto & Xavier do that without a serious fight???? ::sigh::

  • I know. Everything about Emma Frost bothered me except the way she looked when she was "frosty." I couldn't understand why pinning her with the metal prevented her from doing anything to help herself escape. Mystique went with Magneto because he slept with her.

    But there was no mutant "good" woman there! Not one. Cool action, Michael Fassbinder was excellent, good effects, etc.

    However, it's obvious that, if only the men can really have the strongest powers and the women are easy to control, let's change it to the Y-Men.

  • I felt very ambivalent about Darwin. Was his talent a nod to the theory that all humans came out of Africa, or was it something more racist?

    *spoiler alert*

    I had a huge problem with him being the only mutant to die as collateral damage. It reminded me of Morgan Freeman's character in RED. I mean… really? Can we not do that with the only black character in the ensemble please? And can we not do that repeatedly?

    The memory wipe made me feel ambivalent about Professor X, and I assumed that was intended. I hope it was. I didn't feel like there was a clear moral winner between him and Magnito. Both were broken and arrogant and made others take the consequences of their respective mutant empowerment dogmas. I also felt X was effectively branded as a misogynist right from the beginning, when he's shown chatting up co-eds and bossing his sister around. Again, I hope that was intentional and not the writers being blind to this as a character flaw.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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