SCOOP: It’s not Phallic Imagery in Man of Steel, It’s Yonic Imagery


Man of Steel

Take a closer look at the walls of the set. Image ctsy of Warner Bros Pictures

After reading the headline, some might be wondering “what is yonic imagery?” The answer: It’s the female version of phallic imagery. Or simply stated: the vagina.   (Are we allowed to say that word on here? I don’t know, but that’s what it is.)  The female organs have long been depicted in many forms as the inspiration for artists to express themes of fertility and birth. The use of the imagery dates all the way back to the Pleistocene era, with the oldest depiction of what is considered a woman’s private region, through the ages to the Renaissance, up to present day.  Having long been an inspiration for artists, yonic imagery has represented  the start of a journey and renewal- or in the case of Man of Steel: rebirth.

The references to yonic imagery aren’t gratuitous in my opinion, but it’s there.  Many fans have commented on these images, thinking they were phallic in nature… close, but wrong gender. And wrong organ for that matter.

In Part 3 of my interview with Mackenzie Gray we discuss the imagery, where it appears and how it is used.  We also discuss the movie’s polarizing cinema scores.


MG: I don’t know, but how many times did you see the film?

ME: Four times! (laughing)

MG: There’s a lot of Georgia O’Keeffe’s art deco vaginal imagery all through Krypton, it’s in all the doorways, and everywhere. When I mentioned that I thought that was a theme, to Zack, he said “Oh yeah it is! Come look at this, I got to show you this set.  The film is all about re-birth.” And I thought “wow!”  The film isn’t just about the re-birth of the franchise, but for Krypton.  We go to Earth to try to create a re-birth of Krypton.   It’s essentially birth and re-birth.  People are commenting on all the phallic imagery, but they missed the more obvious.

In the scene where we’re all being sentenced to go to the Phantom Zone, we’re all in these little pods, floor pods.  The pod that they made for me was a bit smaller.  I have to go stand in it. I thought this is kind of odd, maybe I was standing in it wrong.  I stepped off of it and looked at it and I thought “oh my god. That’s a vagina.”   I thought this was amazing. […] I looked at them [all] and there were twenty of them.  In the big spaceship, we’re all standing in them.   So, I walked over to Antje, it was her first big day on the spaceship set, and I said “Don’t look now, but you’re standing in a vagina.”  She looked down and then just completely lost it. […] After that we began to realize every doorway we went through, all of our symbols on the walls, was in that imagery. We called ourselves the “Vagina Gang.”

ME: Interesting. Some fans have commented on and referenced the images they thought were phallic, they left the female anatomy out of it. But, it is interesting they’ve referenced it in some way and you’re talking about it, because there is actually a purpose for it in the movie.   It’s not meant to be graphic or inappropriate, but it’s more symbolism talking about re-birth.

MG: It’s beautifully done.  It’s in so many of the images.  When [Superman] walks out, finally, when you first see him with the cape and costume on,  he comes down a long hallway into a round opening. It’s literally a re-birth of him as Superman.   I haven’t seen any critics pick up on it.

ME: Interesting.  Well, it’s going to be discussed now!  I’ve seen it four times and it’s one of those movies that every time I see it, I see new things.

I feel very disappointed with how critics have rated the movie in comparison to how fans and movie-goers have rated it.  It has an A Cinema score whereas the critics have scored it lower.   It’s very polarizing.

MG: I have a theory about that.

ME: I would love to hear it because I’ve got multiple theories about it.

MG:  On a lot of films, not just this one, they tend to tear them apart.  In the old days, they actually had to go to a cinema and see it.  Now they just send screeners and they watch it on a computer.  They can stop it, rewind and keep looking at it.   It’s not the same as seeing it in a cinema, with 3D or the whole nine yards.  I think that’s how it was screened in Europe, I don’t know about elsewhere so I may be saying what I don’t know.   When you watch a film on a computer, or even a TV, it’s not the same as sitting in a cinema looking at it in the size it’s meant to be seen in.   It’s a different experience.   I think when you see it in a cinema it adds much more power.


Fans can follow Mackenzie Gray on his official Twitter account.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview!

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