Actress Jessica Chastain speaks onstage during the "The Martian" press conference at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Sept. 11, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. 
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty

Actress Jessica Chastain calls out over-sexualization of female superheroes

Actress Jessica Chastain is calling out what she considers to be a sexist double standard used by Hollywood in portraying female superheroes.

As one of the stars of the highly-anticipated new sci-fi epic “The Martian,” Chastain is no stranger to big-budget spectacles, and no genre has dominated the marketplace in the last decade more than comic book adventures. Chastain thinks the boom has not been especially beneficial for female performers.

“If you look at films like ‘Elektra‘ and ‘Aeon Flux,’ the problem that studios have is that they try to make kick-ass women very sexualized. They have to be in some catsuit,” she recently told Britain’s Radio Times. “But if you look at the most incredible female roles, like Ripley in ‘Alien,’ she is a very sexy woman but she’s not wearing a lot of make-up. She’s in a T-shirt and jeans. What’s sexy about her is how capable she is.” 

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“Studios have misjudged it in the past, and thought audiences weren’t interested in seeing a woman in an action role who’s a capable, intelligent woman and isn’t only leaning on her sex,” she added.

Chastain has distinguished herself with non-stereotypical roles in films like “Zero Dark Thirty” — for which she received an Academy Award nomination — and “A Most Violent Year.” She made headlines in January when she delivered an impassioned and unexpected plea for greater racial diversity in casting during a Most Valuable Player acceptance speech at the Critic’s Choice Awards.

“Today is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. So it got me thinking about our need to build the strength of diversity in our industry,” she said to applause from the audience. “And to stand together against homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic and racist agendas. I’m an optimist. And I can’t help but feel hopeful about the future of film, especially looking at all these beautiful people in this room. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ And I would like to encourage everyone in this room to please speak up.”