Will women save the day? This was the question posed last week during a panel discussion following a screening of Captain Marvel at London’s Barbican cinema.
I’ve seen most of the previous twenty Marvel films, but was curious to see how the franchise would present their first film focusing on a female hero. Without saying too much (no spoilers here!), I didn’t think the film itself particularly stood out from other origins films such as the first Iron Man and Thor solo outings. While that may sound disappointing, I actually think it is really positive that they are on par because in reality the gender of the hero should make no difference, especially when the Captain Marvel character is at least as powerful as her male counterparts.
Off screen though, the difference has been palpable as discussed by Empire Magazine’s Helen O’Hara, comic book artist Rachael Stott and University of Reading’s Dr Lisa Purse at the event. The negative corner of the internet went into overdrive slating the film (even before it had been screened) and in some instances furious that the Captain Marvel character, originally drawn as a man, is now reimagined as a female for the big screen.
Arguably some of the backlash was linked to star Brie Larson’s now infamous Marie Claire interview with journalist Keah Brown, a disabled woman of colour, who Larson hand picked for the job as part of her efforts to have a more diverse group of critics reviewing her work. In the interview, the Oscar winner expressed her desire to use the power of the Captain Marvel platform to speak out for greater inclusion, a move that has since seen Brie frequently labelled a “social justice warrior” in the most negative context.
Black Panther also experienced similar negativity prior to release, but today it is the ninth highest grossing film of all time with $1.3 billion in the bank and added three Academy Awards to its already crowded trophy cabinet last month. Captain Marvel has already amassed over $770,000 globally and is tipped to break the $1 billion barrier before its theatrical run ends, so it seems that cinema goers already to embrace more diverse heroes, especially if recent reports that Marvel are already looking to break another barrier by casting their first openly gay superhero are true.
So, will women save the day? It took Marvel 11 years to release a female led film but Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow stand-alone offering is now in pre-production and DC’s second instalment of Wonder Woman is due out next year so the critics will have at least two more feisty females to battle in the not too distant future, but what about beyond the silver screen?
Perhaps your gender or ethnicity may make it harder to get the opportunity you crave, but as individuals and businesses we should always be brave enough to try something new and I believe that our world will be enriched every time someone makes that leap. Resistance is part of the journey for every innovation, but those that are most successful are the ones which don’t allow the negative voices around them to drown out the pioneer within.