Captain Marvel is the feminist film superhero we’ve been waiting for
The Internet all but exploded last week when it was announced that, for the first time ever, a female superhero would be getting her own Marvel movie. That lady powerhouse is Captain Marvel and her big-screen debut is coming to a theater near you in 2018.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of Captain Marvel, as kick-ass of a super heroine as she is, and as fan-girly a fan-base as she boasts, girl is a virtual unknown in the Land of the Non-Comic Book Fans. All that will change forever thanks to her upcoming movie.
Carol Danvers (as she is known when she’s not all gussied up in her vigilante costume) made her first comic book cameo back in 1968, when she played (you guessed it) a love interest. She then had a meandering history (it’s totally worth reading all the nitty gritty about her history over at Vox) until 2012 when she finally became Captain Marvel, boosted along by comic writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. Once known as Ms. Marvel in the ’70s, she was, back then, compared to a very famous feminist and Wonder Woman fan. “She wore oversized glasses and blond, middle-parted hair and neck scarves,” DeConnick told the Daily Beast. “It was Gloria Steinem fan fiction in the most literal sense.”
Captain Marvel, as she is now depicted, is a former Air Force pilot who can fly and shoot laser beams out of her hands. Note: that last part is because she is also half-alien. Captain Marvel is charismatic and flawed, she’s super confident and super capable, she’s also a hot-tempered Type-A with a chip on her shoulder the size of Texas. She’s exactly the kind of character you want to pay $15 to see save the world. So why the heck did it take so long for Captain Marvel to get her own movie?
The reality is, the squabble over bringing a Marvel female led movie to theaters has been bubbling for years and finally reached fever pitch this year. A few ingredients likely went into finally making this dream a movie going reality: Obvious fan support, numerous female-led box office wins, and the ongoing mania that is Hollywood superhero obsession. But it was a ridiculously hard uphill battle to get a female superhero movie to be made.
Hollywood is notorious for taking every female-centric flop, and spinning those into tales about why women can’t headline their own movies. After the flops of two female led superhero films, Catwoman and Elektra, this lie has loomed atop Hollywood and especially Marvel for over a decade.
Here’s the problem with Hollywood’s take on women being unable to headline big blockbusters: it’s constantly being proven untrue. The Jennifer Lawrence-led “Hunger Games” franchise has broken a host of box office records (including biggest opening weekend for big-openining-weekend month November) and the two movies pulled in $691 million and $864 million respectively, making it literally a BILLION DOLLAR FRANCHISE. Meanwhile, this year, the first installment of Shailene Woodley’s “Divergent” film franchise pulled in $288 million. This summer brought us Angelina Jolie’s fantasy action flick “Maleficent,” which pulled in $757 million worldwide. This summer also brought us Scarlet Johansson’s action flick “Lucy,” an original story with no built-in audience that outsold male-driven action flicks “Oblivion,” “Elysium,” and “Edge of Tomorrow” at the same points in their sales cycles. All of which is to say, it couldn’t be more clear that modern audiences are hungry for female heroes and its about time that the comic book-to-film industry finally sat up and recognized.
“Captain Marvel” won’t be the lone female superhero on the big screen in 2017. DC’s “Wonder Woman” is also set to hit theaters that year. AND AND AND a yet-unnamed female character from the “Spiderman” universe is set to star in her own cinematic vehicle that year, too. Yes, it’s a bummer that we have to wait THREE YEARS before we get to fangirl out on super heroines for a year straight, but that year is coming, so just be patient and get ready for a SUPER 2017.