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The Superhero Movie That Almost Ruined January Jones' Acting Career

January Jones may not be exceptionally famous, but when she does appear, she often leaves a lasting impression. Although primarily recognizable as Betty Draper on "Mad Men" from 2007 to 2015, Jones made several appearances in movies and on television before joining the overwhelmingly popular show. Keen-eyed fans may have noticed her in the 2003 Adam Sandler flick "Anger Management" and briefly in "American Wedding."

During the early days of "Mad Men," Jones also popped up in a singular 2008 episode of "Law & Order" as Kim Brody. With the overwhelming success of "Mad Men," Jones later lent her skills to movies like 2009's "Pirate Radio" and 2011's "Unknown," typically cast as a background or supporting character. Considering her career arc up to that point, Jones was attempting to build much bigger roles for herself that moved past her good looks or simply being a background character of note.

However, one 2011 superhero movie somewhat derailed the rising star while it was supposed to elevate her to leading lady status. Although she continued to work in lesser-known films, Jones has not been in any major tentpole movies since then. She has appeared on TV shows like "The Last Man on Earth," "The Politician," and "Spinning Out" but was never asked to return to the superhero franchise. Instead, her character was mentioned in the next film as having died off-screen. But what exactly happened to Jones' career?

X-Men: First Class caused Jones' career to lose steam

Released in 2011, "First Class" was a soft reboot of the popular "X-Men" franchise, starring James McAvoy as Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Magneto. January Jones plays the role of Emma Frost, a powerful psychic who can turn her body into a diamond, and is one of the lieutenants to villain Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). In "X-Men: First Class," Frost uses her powers to manipulate global events in favor of Shaw's plan — that of a nuclear war that will give rise to mutants, which, in Shaw's mind, is the next step in evolution.

Although "First Class" is generally considered a good movie (via Rotten Tomatoes), both writers and critics have lambasted Jones' performance. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Lost" and "Watchmen" writer Damon Lindelof wrote in a since-deleted tweet, "Emma Frost's THREE mutant powers. Telepathy, Transformation to Solid Diamond and last but not least, Sucking at Acting." While Nerd Stash critic Adam Seebach enjoyed "First Class," he did take issue with Jones, writing, "January Jones as Emma Frost is the single worst adapted comic book character I have ever seen on film, period."

Jones had very little time to prepare for the role

It seems that die-hard Marvel fans also took issue with January Jones' portrayal of Emma Frost. Taking to Reddit, u/K1nd4Weird said of Jones' performance, "She played Emma too much like Betty Draper. She was often bored. Which Emma is too but Emma isn't just bored she's bored because she's so much better than whatever is happening. It's a small difference. But it was missing from her performance." Others, like  u/JamesFernandez_92 and u/NivvyMiz, felt bad for Jones, saying that she gets a lot of unnecessary hate for the character or even going so far as to blame it on the script.

In fact, there may have been another reason that her performance in "X-Men: First Class" was lacking. In an interview with Jam! Showbiz (via CinemaBlend) ahead of the release, Jones revealed how rushed the production was, explaining that the movie was made in the span of a couple of months. So there appear to be a variety of factors contributing to Jones' meteoric rise on the coattails of "Mad Men" being somewhat stifled by her appearance in "X-Men: First Class."