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– by David Kozlowski

Marvel’s MCU has been a boy’s club for most of its existence, but all of that is about to change. The casts and creators of several upcoming MCU films suggests that the ladies of the Marvel universe are now front-and-center.

Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel stand-alone film debuts a couple months before Avengers 4 hits theaters — two films that will conclude the MCU’s Phase 3 (a total of 22 films). Big questions remain regarding the contents of Phase 4, which will certainly include — and possibly feature — Larson’s Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel character.

Related – Captain Marvel Confirmed For Avengers 4

Not only is Larson the first female lead role in the MCU, but the film’s screenwriter and director are both women, and of course, Cate Blanchett’s Hela is also the first major female villain in the MCU. Given these examples, it’s reasonable to assume that Phase 4 will strike a bit more gender balance going forward.

Why is this important? Marvel (and DC too) are finally beginning to reflect the demographics of their audience and the world in-general too. As the MCU films move into their second decade, capturing and retaining audiences is going to be paramount (According to Den of Geek, there are at least 11 other major movie universes in development, and probably many more to come). DC has already realized the power of female creators connecting with female audiences with Wonder Woman, which marked a major shift towards greater gender diversity in superhero movies.

IndieWire spoke with Marvel president Kevin Feige about what we can expect in Phase 4:

“There are a lot of discussions, they all focus on the post-Phase Three, ‘Avengers’ 4 film, so nothing that we’ll get into publicly. We’re really focusing on ‘Captain Marvel’ and the work that Anna and Ryan are doing. It’s going to be a big part of heading towards this epic conclusion and epic finale of 22 movies over the course of 10 years. That is focus for the next six movies we have to finish and get out.”

OK, so Feige didn’t tell us much there, but Marvel has already been emphasizing female characters: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Nebula (Karen Gillan) have been with us for multiple films each to-date. Now they’re joined by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Black Panther‘s Dora Milaje warriors (Lupita N’yongo and Danai Gurira). Each of these characters are driving narratives and exploring specific character arcs, on a par with their male counterparts.

The future of the MCU may remain closely-held by Feige and his creators, but the evidence at-hand suggests that there’s going to be a different kind of MCU in the future. One where gender equity is the norm, and (hopefully) this means an entirely new generation of fans joining the party too.

How do you feel about the MCU’s shift toward more female characters and creators? Let us know in the comments down below!

Captain Marvel hits theaters this on March 8, 2018.

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SOURCE: IndieWire , Den of Geek

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.