Poster of a Girl: Misogynist Tornadoes and Highway Robbery Girls

Movies, music, comics, books. I’ve looked for cultural implications concerning gender, authority or violence in all kinds of media already, but I know there is enough left. Today I pick something slightly new: movie posters! I just went to the best movie poster site, IMP Awards, and checked out all the posters I found on the current homepage. I haven’t seen any of the movies and judge the posters only by what I see and know about the movie. But they are all current posters, not some things of the past that didn’t know better.


I have no idea what this movie is about and I don’t really want to. But I can’t help but notice the tiny women looking attractive and obviously being in support of the strange fellow who seems to be the hero. Could that become a recurring theme?


And then the opposite: a female character, central to the poster, no male characters needed, just Robin Wright. And the focus lies on her mind, too, not on her body. It’s a great poster for an intriguing sounding film. And it’s always nice to have positive examples.


Ugh, this is awful. The poster features four names in big letters, two men and two women. But the juxtaposition of Ed Harris and Michael Peña as two cowboys looking tough and serious to the left, while Eva Longoria just looks not only very concerned and exhausted, but also at them, is an unfortunate composition. It makes her look weaker and as if she has to follow them, but of course more worried than they are because, you know, she’s female. The little image at the bottom of another man leading a woman doesn’t help.


Basically the same title as the previous poster, but these posters couldn’t be more different. No concern, just determination. No men in sight, no hiding in the background, just a strong woman front and center with a fantastically designed poster. Is that so hard?


I shouldn’t have asked. Okay, aside from looking really bad as a poster design in itself (the weird cut outs, the floating heads, the stupid tagline), it’s another example of the male hero standing in front of the female sidekick. He’s bigger of course too and she seems to be taking cover behind him. Not that he looks that strong.


Again, how refreshing is such a poster in comparison? A man only in the background, looking like he has no chance against the two central women. I like how all three of them look at us, expectantly, provocatively, asking What, you have a problem? We don’t.


Okay, Chris Pratt is in the center of the poster and he is the main protagonist, but he still stands behind Zoë Saldana who looks just as tough as everyone else. Maybe that’s the biggest success of this poster, that everyone seems equally tough and slightly crazy, no matter if it’s the male hero, the female warrior, the raccoon or the tree. It’s still just one woman out of five characters. Though I’m not sure if gender matters to Groot the tree. Because he is, you know, Groot.


Just imagine, for a second, the roles were reversed here. Try to picture a woman, holding onto a car or a tree or a house with one hand and with the other hand holding a man who is about to be sucked into a tornado and all his life depends on the strength of her. Does such a poster exist? Will it ever? Or will we forever see women as the obvious passive victims depending on men to save them? Or, if “woman-saves-man” is too outrageous for you, a woman saving a woman? Hey, Into the Storm 2, just keep it in mind.


And the pendulum swings back to another woman-centric poster which even has all the men (and another woman) out of focus, which is an especially cool touch, I think. And it’s Patricia Clarkson’s name right in the middle too, no one else, and she definitely is a good enough reason to watch any movie.


Now, look at this. The tagline makes it clear that he (Idris Elba) is threatening her (Taraji P. Henson). But without the tagline this wouldn’t be so clear. Does he look scary or menacing? He looks tough again, while she looks scared and worried. Which is the dichotomy we know well enough by now.


Tough man with gun, tough man with gun, tough woman being sexy. Hm, something is off here. It doesn’t help that it looks like gigantic Pierce Brosnan points the gun at tiny Olga Kurylenko. Wait, you say, how do I know it’s Olga Kurylenko? Since the poster only features two big male names, even though Luke Bracey can hardly be considered big (11 IMDb credits), while Olga Kurylenko has an impressively long list of movies, including starring roles (28 IMDb credits). But her name is not mentioned. She’s just the pretty girl on the poster.


Talk about odd poster designs. All kinds of sizes and facial expressions featured here and a skull moon! The male hero is front and center, having a male old sidekick behind him, who doesn’t look worried but supportive, while the women are tucked under the hero’s arms. They look tough too, but still are just “somewhere down there”. And for a warrior girl, Alicia Vikander’s breasts should probably be less exposed as there can’t be a strategic reason for her cleavage.


I’m not a Frank Miller fan. If I ever get to it, I’ll explain my massive problems I have with his work, including his female characters. But here it doesn’t matter that the women are as fucked up as everyone else. But Jessica Alba is the center of the poster, at least. You could argue about her clothing of course and why none of the men show so much of their skin or that she has to be scarred now, but that probably goes more into dissecting the movie and comes back to how Miller likes to portray women.

And that’s that. Thirteen posters, eight with problematic portrayals of women, while six fair relatively well. Not a bad quota, I guess. But it was fun, so expect this feature to return!