As always, Spoiler Alert
I’d never heard of Captain Marvel until it was announced that Brie Larson had been cast in the role, and the online backlash began.
Now, I’m not a comic book person – as is, I think, obvious from the fact that I’d never even heard of the character before – but I do realize a lot of fans are very wedded to the idea of who ‘should’ play their favourite characters, and that Larson was not the first choice of a lot of people.
Which, y’know. Fine. Fans are gonna fan, and it’s not like I’ve never had an opinion about a big franchise before.
But a lot of the rhetoric around Larson’s casting was very Same Sexism Different Day in nature.
Which, y’know. Not so fine.
But also, sadly, not a surprise.
I didn’t follow the furor, but one thing does stand out in my memory. After the first trailer for the film was released, there were complaints that Larson was too serious and should be smiling – because apparently that’s what superheroes do while saving the universe.
Normally, this would have gotten tucked into the, “Oh for fuck’s sake, like women haven’t heard enough of that already,” folder in my brain. But instead, I remember it pretty clearly because of Larson’s response. She tweeted images of several of the Marvel universe’s male heroes sporting Photoshopped smiles.
It was fucking glorious.
It was also an indication of just how right Larson was for the role.
The film is an origin story, showing how Carol Danvers became imbued with superpowers and took on the persona of Captain Marvel. There are plenty of flashbacks to her childhood, showing her fighting against the constraints placed on girls by society, and how she’s continued to do so throughout her life. It culminates in Danvers recognizing her own power and worth.
Is the symbolism a little heavy-handed and over the top? Yes.
Do I want to cheer every time I see it? Also yes.
The chauvinism the film portrays isn’t limited to childhood. From fellow pilot trainees making sexist jokes about cockpits, to Danvers’ mentor insisting she has to ‘prove’ herself to him, to – you guessed it – a biker dude telling her she should smile, the movie is rife with examples of the everyday sexism women live with. And just like Larson, she pushes back against it.
The result is a movie that’s equal parts empowering and entertaining. The trolls are just going to have to live with it.
To see other posts in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order, click here.