It was an honor to be included on the panel this year, which dealt with X-Men and "Overcoming Adversity," an excellent theme. We went through major categories, including racism, sexism, disability, and unfortunately, we didn't have time to get to gay rights. Chris turned to me to discuss sexism and X-Men, and I had prepared some remarks about the different ways in which the comic and the movie approached the case of Jean Grey, specifically in terms of her transition to Phoenix/Dark Phoenix.
My essential argument was that, though the comic often indulged in misogyny, the film was significantly worse in terms of its portrayal of Grey. First, in the comic, she chooses to install mental blocks that limit her powers, while in the film, Professor X is secretly installing these blocks without her knowledge. Second, these blocks are under discussion in the comic, while only male characters (Professor X and Wolverine) discuss them in the film. Third, when Jean Grey dies, in the comic, she chooses to kill herself heroically, in order to save her teammates and to pay for her inadvertant genocide. The film instead shows her pleading with Wolverine to do it.
These remarks launched an interesting series of questions about how sexism plays a role in comics, what it means to have comics' sexism amplified in film, and how female characters are treated in contemporary comics as opposed to the Silver Age, which was the dominant area of conversation. I'll write a bit more later, but I just wanted to remark on a wonderful evening with a fascinating group.