Let me start by saying I am well aware of the strong female leads in Sarah Connor, Ellen Ripley, and Leia Organa that came decades before Trinity, Katniss, or Rey. This article is not debating who broke which ceiling first or whether or not females have had their moments cinema. I honestly think females have had amazing representation in the past, even if it hasn’t been consistent. For example, Wonder Woman was portrayed adoringly by Lynda Carter long before Gal Gadot was a thought in her parents’ brains and we all remember Leia saying “Somebody has to save our skins!” to Luke and Han in A New Hope before she did just that.
And while there’s no denying that things could be better for women in cinema, especially in geek culture, it is wrong to pretend these past heroines do not exist. Today we are talking about female superheroes in the modern Comic Book Movie era. We acknowledge the past, but we are looking to the future. We should all be thankful to the amazing women from the past, and those still involved in the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy. They have given us great stories, great role models, and great memories. Now let’s take a look at Captain Marvel and what she will mean to a world that is post-Wonder Woman, which was a cultural phenomenon, even if it didn’t break much new ground.
Wonder Woman became one of the highest grossing superhero films of all time with a worldwide total of over $820 million. It was loved by critics and fans alike and was seen as a fresh breath for the struggling DCEU. It showed that a female superhero could be more than just eye candy and appeal to a wide audience, but did it really mean that much to society below the surface? I will admit that Wonder Woman did a better job portraying a female superhero in the lead than Catwoman did, but what about Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films? The movie also came after 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, where the character Rey not only starred but handed the bad guy his ass on a silver platter! Wonder Woman meant something, but nowhere as much as some would have you believe.
Diana Prince isn’t the first modern female hero though, As I mentioned before, we have to point out the good that Black Widow has done for the genre. Yes, I know we had some females in the X-Men films, but I think those belong to a different era, and we won’t even think about the Elektra movie. Black Widow was in four movies before Wonder Woman showed up in BvS and a fifth before Wonder Woman had her solo outing. Marvel also gave us Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, but neither she nor Widow have carried an entire film on their backs. The closest to a female led comic book movie from Marvel is Ant-Man and the Wasp, which did a great job in promoting female leads and was the first MCU movie to have a female character in the title. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Gamora from the Guardians of the Galaxy series and her portrayal as a strong female role model. Marvel will have its first female led movie though this March with Captain Marvel.
The titular character is expected to have a grand adventure during her first time on screen. The recent EW articles have let us know that Carol Danvers will likely already be powered up when the movie starts, but may have flashbacks to tell how she got her abilities. I do think the time for traditional origins has gone and that this movie will handle the question of “how and when” the way Spider-Man: Homecoming did. We also know that Jude Law’s Mar-vell will make Danvers part of his Starforce team who will fight the evil shape shifting Skrulls. I will say I am super impressed with Captain Marvel’s costume and the way the Skrulls look. The Skrulls could easily have been messed up, but once again Marvel has not let us down in the costume and makeup realm… although it’s still hard to forget Thor’s bleached eyebrows!
Now comes the question of what does Danvers have that hasn’t been done before? If you listen to the words of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige it’ll be power. Yes, Diana is strong and fast, but Marvel is making it seem like Captain Marvel will be imbued with cosmic power that is unparalleled. According to Feige’s interview with EW,
“She is more powerful than any character we’ve introduced thus far. So that alone tells you that there’s a reason Nick hit that button at the end [of Infinity War], when he realized that they were up against something far bigger than they had ever been up against before. And having her on your side is hopefully going to change the balance of power in a way that they desperately need.”
Superman still holds the title of most powerful in DC’s movie world, he was shown as such in Justice League, even though Wonder Woman did a pretty decent job of holding her own against him. Another thing Marvel is doing differently with Carol is the fact that Captain Marvel will get introduced by herself. She won’t be riding the coattails of two of the largest names in comics like Wonder Woman did. It has also been mentioned that Captain Marvel will be a major player in Avengers 4. She may actually be the one to defeat Thanos and, in my opinion, is likely to replace Tony Stark and Steve Rogers in leading the heroes of the MCU, meaning she’ll be the first female to lead a major team. Imagine that… Captain Marvel as the leader of The Avengers! It is possible that Captain Marvel will give us true female empowerment absent of the male genesis, but we’ll need to see her interactions with Law’s Mar-vell to make that final determination. I can see a scenario where she is second to Law at the beginning but surpasses him by the end.
Captain Marvel has a lot of hype to live up too. It will be interesting to see the trailers, ad campaigns, and tie-in merchandise and really see the way they are going to market this movie. As a business school graduate, I know that Marvel wants to appeal to the largest audience possible, but you can’t deny the opportunity to galvanize young women and girls across the planet. We should hopefully see our first look at toys soon and hopefully a trailer too. I think it’s going to be a challenge to ramp up support for her movie and the next Avengers movie at the same time as they come out within two months of each other. Then again, they handled Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s marketing decently. Either way, we’re in for some treats next spring!
Captain Marvel hits theaters March 8, 2019. What do you think will come from Captain Marvel? What new ground will be broken? Do you feel I missed something here? Let us know in the comments below!