Movies Finally Allowing Women to Take Revenge

It’s long been a staple of movies that men seek revenge when some tragedy befalls them. Think of films like Death Wish, where the killing of the main character’s entire family sends him over the edge into vigilantism. The system is always failing white men, who then have to take matters into their own hands.

That such stories have been so common for so long is at least in part responsible for some of the societal problems we face today. These aggrieved white men tried to be good but were forced to go outside the law by the politically correct socialists who want to rehabilitate people instead of jail them and refuse to shoot someone on sight before they are allowed due process in a judicial system awash in corrupt judges and slimy prosecutors.

You can see how that would, when taken along with everything else, add to someone’s burgeoning victim complex, causing them to see everyone in authority along with anyone who doesn’t look like them and share their anger to be seen as the enemy.

Recently, more female characters have been allowed to take on roles that see them seizing power for themselves, often by exacting some level of revenge on those who have wronged them.

Consider a few examples.

Widows (2018) – Four women come together to pay off the debts left behind when their criminal husbands are killed or disappear, plotting a major heist that will allow them to control their own destiny.

Peppermint (2018) – After her husband and child are killed, a woman returns to take down the organized criminals responsible since the justice system was unwilling or unable to do so years ago.

The Hustle (2019) – Two female con artists work together to take down the men who have wronged them – and others like them – over the years

The Kitchen (2019) – Three women are left on the edge of collapse when their husbands are sent to prison, finding the key to survival involves becoming criminals themselves, seizing more power than their husbands ever dreamed of.

Hustlers (2019) – Tired of having to scramble and compromise, a group of night club dancers set out to turn the tables on the Wall Street bros who have everything while they worry about making enough for food and rent.

On that list you’ll find story elements common to the male-centric movies of both the past and present, as well as the future. So it’s not that anything new is generally being done here, it’s just the women are finally being given some agency in their own lives beyond “suffering wife who encourages her husband to go out there and get the son of a bitch who did this” or “helpless woman who has to enlist the aid of male hero cop who will help her finally find justice.”

the kitchen pic

What’s unfortunate is that these movies are finally arriving at a time when non-franchise blockbusters are tanking left and right at the theatrical box office. Of the three that have already finished their release lifecycle, Widows was the most successful with $42 million domestically. The Kitchen performed poorly in its opening weekend and Hustlers’ fate is uncertain due to the financial problems reportedly plaguing Annapurna Pictures.

While there’s a bigger issue of movies that glorify vigilantes and criminals as empowering and justified, that women are finally able to take on these roles themselves is a marked step forward. Let’s hope there are more of them to come, whether they hit theaters, Netflix or other distribution, so that women see they can take charge of themselves and are allowed to feel emotions every bit as deep and sometimes troubling as men have long been free to.

Peppermint – Marketing Recap

Jennifer Garner stars in PEPPERMINT, a movie about a mother seeking revenge for the death of her family. Here’s how the campaign was presented to the audience.

peppermint posterThe revenge movie genre took a beating earlier this year with the Eli Roth-helmed Death Wish. It received poor reviews, didn’t do well with audiences, and was fronted by a marketing campaign that sold it as a tone deaf “white man is angry so that justifies him killing a bunch of people” fantasy.

STX Films is hoping this week’s Peppermint is less The Happytime Murders and more Bad Moms when it comes to scoring at the box office. The studio has had a rough year, with none of its releases topping $50 million in domestic revenue, it could use a breakout hit.

The movie stars Jennifer Garner as a woman who disappears for years following the assassination of her daughter and husband. When she returns she has the skills and weapons necessary to take justice into her own hands, seeking those responsible for the killings. Law enforcement isn’t thrilled with her actions while the general public sees her doing what others can’t.

The Posters

Garner stands against a wall featuring wings made from red bullets on the poster, positioning her clearly as the violent, avenging angel of death. With its muted tones and rough appearance, the message is being sent she will be operating on the streets, taking her fight to the cirminals. All that is reinforced with the copy “The system failed. She won’t.”

The Trailers

Just like with literally every other movie about a parent seeking revenge after the death of their family, the trailer starts with shots of the whole family enjoying happy, wonderful times together. All that comes crashing down when a group of gunmen shoot up the carnival they’re at one night, gunmen that are apparently linked to a drug cartel, a representative of which tries to pressure Riley to unremember what she saw. After the justice system fails her, Riley disappears but then reemerges as a violent, highly-trained vigilante out to take down the system that failed her and protect other innocent people.

Advertising and Publicity

As release drew closer, promoted Tweets like this and others started appearing.

STX created a Facebook AR lens that added wings like those found on the movie’s poster to a short video. That lens was showcased at the film’s premiere the first weekend of September, with videos posted of it being applied to the cast as they walked the red carpet.

Online and Social

The official website doesn’t have a ton of information, but does sport the trailer, a story synopsis and information on the Facebook AR lens. There are also links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Media and Publicity

Before any real marketing or publicity had started for the movie it was part of STX’s CinemaCon presentation, which included an appearance by Garner.

The actress was interviewed by People about how she got into shape for all the action sequences in the movie.

Garner hasn’t been missing from the press for the last couple weeks, but almost every story she’s part of is either about her kids, her efforts to get Ben Affleck into rehab or something else about her personal life. I can’t find a single interview with her that’s about the movie, which says something about our sexist media lens.

That changed somewhat when she stopped by both “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night” in the last few days before release.

Garner and others involved in the filmmaking process were interviewed in an official featurette where they talked about the story, making the movie and more. There was also a clip released showing Garner in full revenge mode taking out bad guys and declaring in no uncertain terms that she wants justice for what was done to her.


The biggest hurdle the campaign seems to have to overcome – in addition to late summer audience antipathy – is that movies about female revenge stories are a tough sell. The most successful example recently is Mad Max: Fury Road, but smaller movies like In the Fade and others haven’t done much to spark buzz or other interest.

The campaign may not be one that’s going to surmount either one, but it does effectively tell the story of the movie, perhaps a bit too well.


More here on how Jennifer Garner trained for her role in the action revenge flick.

Another interview with director Pierre Morel about how he came to be involved with the project and what it was like to work with Garner.

Apparently Garner tried to surprise fans at a screening but it didn’t go well.