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Captain Marvel | An Evaluation of Sexism

Annlyel explores the divisive fan reaction to Carol Danvers’ debut in the MCU

(Writer’s Note: Before you read my piece, let me be very clear. I do NOT mean to offend anybody who may read this or label people who don’t like Captain Marvel as sexist. I understand that there are a lot of you who don’t like her just because you don’t like her, nothing more to it. I am simply stating an observation that I have noticed has affected only this character in the MCU and I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject. Thank you for reading this note. Enjoy! 😊)

As I delve deep into this piece let me be honest with you; I may be a bit biased because I am a Captain Marvel fan…but my love for this ultra-powerful wrecking machine of a superhero did not come about immediately. I didn’t know who this character was or what to expect in 2018. As the marketing for the titular hero’s first film started to ramp up I was beginning to feel like I wouldn’t like Brie Larson’s interpretation the newest addition to the Marvel Studios family.

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As I sat in my theater with my family and watched Captain Marvel unfold I understood that I was watching something that was, ultimately, a mediocre superhero movie however, as Carol Danvers embraces her full power and takes on a Kree fleet led by Ronan himself I remember my heart swelling with admiration and a grin spreading on my face.

Fast forward a few weeks later and I’m sitting in the theater watching Avengers: Endgame. Suddenly, a character that I already was beginning to like had gotten an aesthetic upgrade (the short haircut) and instantly, I was a fan. Brie Larson felt so powerful, so sure of herself, and even though we didn’t get much to dig into with her character after one movie and a small role in Endgame I was a legitimate fan.

I’ve become so much of a Captain Marvel fan that I have grown quite protective of the character and I try to share my love of the hero now and then; as if my simple tweets or blog posts can find Brie Larson through the airwaves and maybe make her day as she has made mine so many times when I watch her take on the Supreme Intelligence with inspiring strength or stop a world-ending Kree missile with her bare hands. Oftentimes I hear the disgruntled groans and searing vitriol of the Marvel fans who find Captain Marvel to be less than adequate as the potential new face of the MCU. And every time I see a fan share how much they can’t stand her I am, every time, baffled.

Don’t get me wrong. I get it. Her first movie is one of the lower-tier Marvel movies in quality and her character’s emotional depth is pretty much non-existent…but that’s wherein lies the problem of these fans’ reasons for hating Captain Marvel so much.

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Some fans can’t understand why she’s the most powerful Avenger nor how she got her powers so quickly, even though her debut film clearly stated WHY she’s so powerful and HOW she can handle the brunt of her powers so effortlessly. Well, let me remind you of the WHY and the HOW of the situation.

  1. She’s powerful because she, already being an exceptional human being since she was a respected Air Force pilot, was able to absorb the power of the Tesseract, or more bluntly, the POWER STONE, an Infinity Stone that can wipe out worlds. Secondly, due to surviving such an accident, she was taken back to the Kree World, Hala, where she was given Kree blood, making her as strong as the likes of Ronan (remember when Ronan got hit by a ship and he didn’t die?)
  2. And she was able to handle her upgraded power because she already had the power to begin with. This origin story was supposed to be different because it featured the hero with her powers already rather than give us the whole backstory. And we did see her struggle a bit with her newfound power after just obtaining it while fighting her fellow Kree teammates.

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These fans like to call Captain Marvel a Mary Sue (if you don’t know, that’s a female character who seems to lack flaws and weaknesses) but they don’t seem to have a problem with male characters who have the same sense of unyielding goodness or power. But I will stray away from the Mary Sue argument and stick to the most important observation I noticed. Some fans don’t like Captain Marvel because she seems to be too powerful too fast. Well, did these same fans have a problem with Scott Lang when he became Ant-Man; a man who went to jail for some criminal activity and had no Avengers-level skills whatsoever. He, of all people, got the job.

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He learns how to be Ant-Man in a few days, then fights Falcon, fights Yellow Jacket, and thus is smart enough to come back from the quantum realm, all while being a pretty regular dude with no experience in the superhero department whatsoever. Had the genders have been flipped, with Ant-Man being a woman and Hope being a man there would’ve been a barrage of outrage from certain fans saying, “How could she be Ant-Man and not Hope? How is she able to learn all of these skills so quickly? Why was she the one that Hank Pym picked to wear the Ant-Man suit? Why, why, why?”

Instead, people loved the character and the movie (and so do I) without much talk about how unrealistic it is. I see the sexism for what it is. I’ve also heard that some fans don’t like Captain Marvel because she doesn’t “smile enough.” First off, she does smile plenty of times in both Captain Marvel and Endgame. Secondly, as a woman, that hits my angry button in so many ways. A woman hates being told to smile more. It is so demeaning. Plus, last time I checked, there were plenty of other Marvel heroines who don’t smile a lot.

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I’m talking Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Gamora, just to name a few. But what they do have in common? They’re hot ladies so we don’t hear these fans piping up and telling them to smile. No. They’re too busy looking at cleavage or the women’s figures in their tight costumes. And there’s also an argument that she has no depth. Well, folks, just look at the track record of nearly all of the Marvel heroes.

  1. Thor was not cool after his first movie, or the second, or the third, or even the fourth. It wasn’t until Thor: Ragnarok that Thor began to shine. Even Chris Hemsworth was getting tired of playing the character until Taika Waititi spruced him up and gave him a sense of humor.
  2. Captain America also started in the not-that-cool-or-likable department. Over the years The First Avenger has become one of my favorite movies but when watching it a few years ago, I didn’t like it at all. On top of that, Steve Rogers didn’t get cool until Captain America: The Winter Soldier which blew everybody out of the water.
  3. It took Hawkeye three movies to get a storyline that gave his character depth and meaning.

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I mean, the list can go on and on. There are only a few heroes who immediate fan-favorites, that being Iron Man, Black Panther, Spider-Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. However, there are a bunch of other characters who needed some tweaking first.

Captain Marvel will get cooler folks. You just have to be patient first.

But here’s the thing that we must remember. These fans who speak so loudly about their despisal of Captain Marvel are a minority. Lest we forget, Captain Marvel was the first Marvel Studios origin story to make over a billion dollars at the box-office. So yeah, it wasn’t the best movie in the world, but it drove people to the movie theaters and made people at least mildly happy. A character that is not likable to some extent cannot, I repeat, CANNOT have a film that makes over a billion dollars. It’s just not possible.

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Captain Marvel is an important character, not just to the MCU, but to the real world. Little girls will grow up and see this incredible heroine who doesn’t back down in the face of adversity; who isn’t forced to wear impractical clothing simply designed to sexualize her body, who doesn’t have to smile or conform to the norms of past female characters in superhero films, and can be just as powerful, if not even more powerful, than the male superheroes who for years have been able to save the day without being questioned for being awesome. She is my Superman and I can’t wait to see Captain Marvel 2 as she must fight to save the world (or maybe even the galaxy) once more.

 

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Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Aside from her role with Future of the Force she also writes for her blog: annlyelonline. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!

 

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Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely that of the author and do reflect the overall opinion of thefutureoftheforce.com, it’s writers, or affiliates.

 

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