X-Men: Apocalypse is in the midst of a respectable run at the worldwide box-office, with audiences responding mostly favorably to the continuation of the Marvel Comics-inspired 20th Century franchise. But while the reception to the film has been fairly positive, the film's marketing has been another story.
The use of an image from the film - from a sequence where Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is strangling Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) - in X-Men: Apocalypse marketing banners and billboards has been criticized by both general moviegoers and industry figures alike, for its use of violence against women to promote a Hollywood blockbuster. Fox has issued a formal apology for the advertisements and pledged to remove the marketing material.
Here is the official statement from Fox with regard to the complaints about Apocalypse's banner/billboard artwork (via EW):
“In our enthusiasm to show the villainy of the character Apocalypse we didn’t immediately recognize the upsetting connotation of this image in print form. Once we realized that how insensitive it was, we quickly took steps to replace those materials. We apologize to anyone offended by our actions.”
While complaints about the imagery as a piece of marketing (as opposed to in the film itself, where the sequence is provided a level of greater context) had been widespread on social media for several weeks before and after the film's release, the controversy gained more media traction when actress Rose McGowan shared a Facebook post from a woman slamming the ad. McGowan, who in recent years has become an activist voice for women's issues in the film industry, later elaborated on her feelings to THR:
"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. 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?"
The image, which is taken from a sequence in X-Men: Apocalypse's third act, depicts Oscar Isaac's villainous Apocalypse lifting Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique off the ground by her neck, accompanied by the tagline "Only the strong survive." While it certainly makes sense to use these two actors prominently in the film's marketing given both their popularity and their characters' relevance in the film (even with both actors being nearly-unrecognizable under several layers of blue and purple prosthetic makeup), it wouldn't have been impossible to find an image that did not feature Lawrence's character in that particular moment of brutality.
X-Men: Apocalypse is now playing in theaters. Wolverine 3 opens in U.S. theaters on March 3rd, 2017, followed by unannounced X-Men films on October 6th, 2017 (possibly Gambit), March 2nd, 2018 (possibly Deadpool 2), and June 29th, 2018 (possibly New Mutants). X-Force is also in development.