Movies have always had problems representing women as actual complex human beings. Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick has noted that a disturbing number of female characters in modern stories fail to pass The Sexy Lamp Test. It's a test that asks, "Can a woman in this story be replaced with a sexy lamp, or is she more than just an attractive prop there for the men to fight over?" But not all weak female characters started off as empty-headed accessories to a male lead's biceps. These fictional ladies were all decidedly less lamp-like in their original form:
6 Kitty Pryde in X-Men: Days of Future Past
20th Century Fox
Remember in X-Men: Days of Future Past when Kitty Pryde traveled back to the '70s to prevent the mutant apocalypse? You don't? Well, that might be because in the movie version, Kitty Pryde stayed at home while Wolverine did all the heavy lifting. For all of the non-nerds (thanks for stopping by the site in between football games and corvette tuneups, Dirk!), the film was based on a 1981 comic where Kitty was sent back in time by a girl named Rachel Summers to stop a senator's assassination, thus preventing a future where all mutants are hunted down by murderous robots.
Marvel Comics, 20th Century Fox
In the comic, two brave heroines navigate the chronoverse. In the movie, Hugh Jackman gets a sensual temple massage.
In the movie, Kitty ends up being the one who sends Wolverine back, meaning they took one woman's daring mission to save all mutantkind and replaced it with "girl acts as Wolverine delivery system." Afterwards, he and a bunch of other dudes take care of all the heroics.
20th Century Fox
Sorry Kitty, they're called X-"MEN" for a reason. Now phase on back to the kitchen, sweetheart.
Producer Simon Kinburg claimed the reason for Kitty's demotion was because of the way time travel powers work in the movie -- a character's mind travels back in time to possess its younger self, and Kitty wouldn't have been born in the '70s. Right, because you can completely restructure the characters in the story on a whim, but this made-up time travel mechanic is totally immutable. Obviously the real reason for the lead character change-up is that Fox knew a ripped-to-shreds Hugh Jackman would sell more tickets than an intangible Ellen Page. It was both the wrong decision for the story, and one that instantly made them $500 million. The term "Wolverine Publicity" is codified on TV tropes for a reason.
20th Century Fox
Hey, at least Kitty made the coveted "blurry bottom right corner" spot on the poster.
Tearing up a story to turn Kitty into Wolverine was more than just cosmetic. Wolverine had virtually no character arc in the film: he didn't grow or change or need to prove himself -- all things that made Kitty Pryde in the original Days of Future Past so interesting. For all the good it did the story, they might as well have replaced Kitty's trippy time-travel-facilitating role with a bong and some sitar music.
5 Cersei in Game of Thrones
If you don't watch Game of Thrones, we're sure you've already heard from your friends how strange and wrong that is of you. You may have also been confused as to why, last August, everyone seemed to be tweeting about incestuous rape. It's not every day a main character on a popular show is boned by her brother, against her will, on the corpse of their child.
Well, not every day on most shows. For Game of Thrones, that's just a Tuesday.
Now, we realize we're fudging the premise a little bit here. In the show, Cersei is not an overall weak character and this one moment doesn't ruin everything she's ever done. But this was definitely a weak moment, added in at the last minute by the screenwriters for no good reason. In the book, the scene was consensual. Still impossibly disturbing, but it acted as a perfect demonstration of Cersei's demented mental state and the twisted relationship with her brother. Take away her consent, and the most powerful woman in the books is transformed, at least momentarily, into just another victim.
"I prefer to make victims."
And what about her character thus far made the writers think she'd just deal with that kind of violation? She had her husband killed and kick-started a massive war for basically the same behavior. If Book Cersei was taken against her will at her son's funeral, the next scene would be the Kingslayer getting dragged behind a horse by his dick -- which, knowing the tone of the show, is not entirely out of the question in future seasons.