Brie Larson Braced Herself for ‘Captain Marvel’ Backlash. How’d She Avoid It?

Brie Larson gets introduced as Captain Marvel at Comic-Con (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Brie Larson knew that accepting the role of Captain Marvel could turn her social media accounts into a minefield. Last week at Comic-Con, fans received official confirmation that Larson, who took home this year’s Academy Award for Best Actress for Room, would play the first female superhero to headline a Marvel Studios film. (Captain Marvel is slated to open in 2019.) On Tuesday, the actress posted a thank-you note to her fans on Instagram, describing her decision to take the role a “trust fall into the internet” and voicing her gratitude for “the tidal wave of support” she experienced.

“Woke up this morning thinking about the tidal wave of support I got this weekend,” Larson wrote, alongside a photo of herself waking up on a sofa. “It was nerve-racking to trust fall into the Internet! I know who I am, but its wild how quickly you can forget once someone calls you something terrible…We should all have the freedom to be our authentic selves without fear or judgment.” The actress went on to welcome her new social media followers, and urge them to make her page “a safe space” with “no hate and more understanding.”


A self-portrait from Brie Larson’s Instagram post (Photo credit: Instagram)

Larson was right to be freaked out about a potential backlash — and yet, for the most part, she seems to have avoided one. Sure, there have been a few predictable moans, including complaints that the 26-year-old Larson is too young to play Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot turned superhuman. (Two longtime rumored frontrunners for the role, Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson, are both in their 30s.) But compared to the memes, petitions, and critical sniping that have greeted other casting announcements, Larson hasn’t taken too much online battle damage. How is that possible? Here are a few hypotheses.

Related: And It’s Official: Brie Larson Is Captain Marvel

1. She looks the part. Casting backlash is often remarkably superficial (i.e. the comments about Gal Gadot’s breast size when she was cast as Wonder Woman) and racially motivated (like the backlash against Michael B. Jordan’s Fantastic Four casting). Brie Larson is a blonde, American white lady cast as a blonde, American white lady. For better or worse, there’s no fodder for controversy there.


The comic book Captain Marvel (Marvel)

2. She’s the right star at the right time. Larson has been in show business since she was a child, but as far as most of the public is concerned, she achieved fame overnight with her acclaimed performance as the devoted mother in Room. The public is notoriously fickle about their feelings towards young, female stars (see: Anne Hathaway or Gwyneth Paltrow), but Larson is still riding on a tidal wave of good will from her awesome press tour and awards season. Now’s the perfect time to place her in the Marvel universe.

3. Captain Marvel isn’t a household name. Comic-book fans are well-acquainted with Carol Danvers, but the character, who was first given her own title in 1977, isn’t hugely familiar to most filmgoers. She wasn’t a part of Saturday morning cartoon ensembles in the ‘80s or ‘90s (like the X-Men or Spider-Man’s Amazing Friends), didn’t have her own live-action show in the ‘70s (like Wonder Woman or The Hulk), and hasn’t been a part of comics history for the better part of a century (like Batman or Superman). So there’s very little talk of childhoods being ruined by her casting.

4. She’s not playing Batman. As Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck can all attest, no Batman will ever please everybody.

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