Cape Talk #4: Mystique!!!
Mystique of the X-Men movies has been all over the news lately, and as sure as the sunrise, it’s time for me to have an opinion about it! Welcome to Cape Talk!
The Solo Mystique Film No One Wants
Bryan Singer is flapping his yap about a possible solo Mystique film starring Jennifer Lawrence. In a podcast with Empire, the once-cherished director of the two original X-Men films which helped kick off the current superhero craze spoke about the blue-skinned mutant getting her own movie. “I think [Mystique’s] right for [a standalone], whether it’s Jennifer or not.”
I’m calling bullshit on this “Jennifer or not” stuff. Anyone with eyes knows that 20th Century Fox’s stubborn insistence on courting this idea with the public is about harnessing J-Law’s star power. Producer/writer Simon Kinberg was pushing the idea back in 2014. “I love what Jen Lawrence has done with her, and I feel like because she is in such a crowded ensemble, there’s so much more opportunity if you were to follow her solo.” Nevermind that Lawrence’s take in Days of Future Past generated little excitement. In the same article Kinberg is speaking in, EW cites a poll of its readers asking which X-Properties they’d like to see spun off into their own flicks, and Mystique comes in fifth – right after Storm, coincidentally also then still played by a talented actress struggling with an underwhelming role.
I’m beginning to wonder if Fox likes the X-Men at all. There is a cancerous lack of interest in the source material in this latest round of movies. From rolling back Kitty Pryde’s central role in the “Days of Future Past” comic storyline to mere plot contrivance in the film, to casting X-Men stalwarts like Angel and Storm as bland henchmen in Apocalypse, Kinberg’s scripts have regularly twisted the original material beyond recognition. At least there is a transparent purpose to the studio’s backstage-parenting of Mystique; since she’s played by one of the biggest actresses now working (a total happy accident on Fox’s part, since J-Law signed up for the role before her big blowup in Hunger Games), it makes box office sense to put her front and center on all the posters. But in the comics, Mystique is a much shallower villain character, and its jarring seeing Fox struggle to expand her role into a Katniss-style rebel leader type.
And Lawrence herself isn’t even interested in the concept of a solo outing! She’s been angling to leave the franchise when her three-picture deal ended for at least a year, and hasn’t been shy about her strong distaste for Mystique’s involved makeup process. If Fox is looking for someone with the star power to replace Hugh Jackman when he finishes with the role, they should find someone who actually wants to do it and stop pushing this C-list character on audiences because they fell backwards into an A-list actress playing her. My advice to Fox: Stop letting a producer write your scripts, and start making X-Men movies again.
To Choke Or Not To Choke
Mystique just can’t stay out of the news, and never in a good way. Just as talk of a solo film died down, then comes Rose McGowan, star of the 90s show Charmed and womens’ advocate, to point her finger at the movie’s poster. The image in question shows the titular villain, Apocalypse, as he strangles Mystique. “There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled,” she said in a Facebook post. She added:
“I’ll close with a text my friend sent, a conversation with his daughter. It follows: ‘My daughter and I were just having a deep discussion on the brutality of that hideous X-Men poster yesterday. Her words: ‘Dad, why is that monster man committing violence against a woman?’ This from a 9-year-old. If she can see it, why can’t Fox?
First of all, no 9-year-old talks like that. In fact, there’s no such thing as a ‘deep discussion’ with a 9-year-old, period, unless you want a critical analysis on why Batman is cool but Superman is “gay.”
Also, let’s not forget that Movie Mystique has done a fair amount of choking in her day. In fact, it’s kind of her signature move.
But getting past that, I can actually see her point. When was the last time you saw a male superhero on a poster getting strangled? Or for that matter, in any kind of submissive or defeated position whatsoever? Pretty sure the answer is “never.” The closest thing that comes to mind is that poster for Man of Steel with Henry Cavill in handcuffs, although anyone looking at it knew Superman could break those handcuffs in a second (So yeah, is it “gay” that Superman can break steel like tissue paper? Is it, Hunter? Let’s see Batman do that) (Also, stop calling things “gay,” Hunter, you little shit).
Basically, posters are where you see superheroes being awesome, fists clenched, teeth clenched, just everything clenched all over and being totally awesome. That’s not to say that I agree with censorship. I don’t think studios shouldn’t be allowed to use a reasonable degree of violent imagery in their marketing. What if someone in the future has an idea for an image with similar themes, but with a more artful and challenging execution, and is afraid to act on it because of this incident? So you know, let’s keep things in perspective.
That’s all for this edition of Cape Talk! Agree? Disagree? Say so in the comments below!