Marvel Comics’ newest addition to its cinematic universe is finally led by a woman, and it shouldn’t be as much as a big deal as it is.
Fans have been waiting for years for a woman to take the big screen as one of our favorite heroes. A Marvel heroine finally received the silver-screen treatment, and “Captain Marvel” is the character that got the honor.
But not without causing plenty of controversy, of course.
“Captain Marvel” follows the story of Carol Danvers, an intergalactic Kree warrior with memories of a former life on Earth as a United States Air Force pilot, who discovers herself through her past to reach her powerful potential all while saving the world.
Although Danvers isn’t Marvel’s most iconic female superhero, many were excited for the film, while others voiced criticisms.
The sheer fact that the idea of a female superhero is such a divided topic of national conversation is absolutely ridiculous, and the excuses for not having more are getting weaker and weaker.
One of the most prominent complaints surrounding the film was that Marvel was taking a formerly male character and making them female to pander to progressive fans.
The mantle of Captain Marvel has been passed to many heroes, even in the DC Comics Universe, before the woman we know today rose to fame.
The first Captain Marvel is now more commonly known to comic fans as the DC Comics hero Shazam, who will be getting his own origin movie April 5.
The character was created in 1936 but was retired in 1953, and when DC tried to bring the character back Marvel had already bought the trademark for their own character of the same name.
Once Marvel had the rights, the original “Captain Marvel” starring Mar-Vell, a male Kree spy who eventually sides with Earth during conflict, was released in 1966. The character died from cancer in 1982, from that point the mantle passed to many until eventually landing most famously on Carol Danvers.
Danvers entered the Marvel Universe as a scientist in 1967, and donned the persona of Ms. Marvel, inspired by Mar-Vell. Danvers had many roles in different teams like A-Force, X-Men and the Avengers before eventually taking on the title of Captain Marvel, which finally received her own official solo comic series as the hero in 2012.
Although Mar-Vell was the “original” Captain Marvel, choosing Danvers for the film adaptation was the obvious choice.
Mar-Vell hasn’t been the active captain in literal years, and Danvers has been a powerful contender since arriving on the scene because of her compelling character and overwhelming power.
Marvel has definitely made an effort to have more representation in its comics, with Sam Wilson, formerly the Falcon, becoming the first black Captain America and Kamala Khan, the first Muslim hero to headline her own comic, becoming Ms. Marvel for example.
However, having Danvers pick up the mantle was a natural choice because she was already so popular and already linked to the title. Bringing a character back that hasn’t been active in the universe in years would add to the already convoluted storylines that make up the MCU.
Not to mention, the average viewer won’t even know the long histories behind the characters, so the criticisms come across as stubbornness. As if one more female character will completely topple the male-dominated comic book industry.
Nonetheless, more representation is beneficial to everyone. The real world is so richly diverse, it’s more unrealistic that all the heroes would solely be straight white men than blasting energy from your bare hands.
The bottom line is that as the audiences change, so should the heroes.
Another criticism is that female heroes don’t sell.
The oldest line in the book for executives is that the women wouldn’t be able to make as much money at the box office as the men.
In May 2015, Wikileaks unearthed an email from 2014 sent by Marvel CEO Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter that listed a number of female-led comic films such as “Supergirl,” “Catwoman” and dubbed them disasters and followed it up with their box office earnings.
“Catwoman was one of the most important female characters within the Batman franchise,” Perlmutter stated in the email. “This film was a disaster.”
As reported by Time Magazine, the context surrounding the email was unconfirmed but the language used was clear.
“Supergirl was one of the most important female superheroes in Superman franchise,” Perlmutter said. “This movie came out in 1984 and did $14 million total domestic with opening weekend of $5.5 million. Again, another disaster.”
This email was sent only a few months before the announcement for “Captain Marvel”’s production was released.
The excuse of a female-lead hero not doing well at the box office has now been shattered by both prominent comic book companies.
“Wonder Woman” was a sensation for DC Comics in 2017 despite all the doubt, making a total $821.8 million worldwide. While “Captain Marvel” has made $524 million globally, including a mighty $100 million in China, in just its first weekend.
“Wonder Woman” received multiple awards, made Gal Gadot an icon and launched the film’s director Patty Jenkins’ career after publicly emphasizing that women creators should tell women’s stories. An announcement for the “Wonder Woman” sequel came quickly after.
Even Brie Larson, the Oscar award-winning star of “Captain Marvel,” has received personal criticisms after speaking out about the lack of diversity among film critics.
Larson spoke of the issue while accepting an award at Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards in June 2018, referencing the U.S.C. Annenberg study that found Rotten Tomatoes 76 percent of reviews were written by men, while 82 percent were written by white critics overall.
“Am I saying that I hate white dudes? No, I’m not,” Larson said. “What I am saying is if you make a movie that is a love letter to a woman of color, there is an insanely low chance that a woman of color will have a chance to see your movie and review your movie… We are expanding to make films that reflect the people who buy movie tickets… I do not need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ It wasn’t made for him.”
As backlash begin to come in regarding Larson’s statements, trolls went to Rotten Tomatoes and wrote thousands of negative critiques before the “Captain Marvel”’s theatrical release.
Rotten Tomatoes responded by changing its review process for users and deleting over 50,000 fraudulent preemptive reviews solely meant to lower the film’s rating to make it a more accurate representation.
However, Larson gets to the most important point of them all. The original purpose of these movies is lost once they are politicized beyond belief.
Viewers forget what these movies are supposed to do. Yes, the film needs to give us enough backstory to help us understand “Avengers: End Game” but superhero movies are meant to simply inspire the hero inside of all of us.
The photos of Larson and Gadot hugging and taking photos with dozens of little girls dressed in costumes with beaming smiles on their faces is the point. Stories of strength, courage and selflessness are universal. It doesn’t matter who the hero is, because anyone can be the hero.