In recent years, Marvel movies have dominated the box office, making them impossible to ignore. As someone who might have preferred to ignore them, even I have been grudgingly impressed with the direction Marvel has taken. But when Brie Larson hinted that Marvel wasn’t interested in an all-female movie, I felt all my old objections to the superhero genre flood back in full force. Of course they weren’t. Captain Marvel was Marvel throwing women a bone, and hoping it would be enough to keep us quiet. They still didn’t really believe the genre was for us too.
At Variety’s Power of Women cover shoot, Larson was asked about the possibility of an all-female Marvel movie during the interview. And, according to the Room star, that issue has been raised — emphatically — to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. Here’s how Larson explains the encounter, as reported by Variety: “A lot of the female cast members from Marvel walked up to Kevin and we were like, ‘We are in this together, we want to do this,’” she shared. “What that means, I have no idea. … I’m not in charge of the future of Marvel.”
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No, Larson isn’t in charge of the future of Marvel — but Feige, whom they just approached, sure is. So, where does he stand on all this? Tessa Thompson described that same incident, and Feige’s response, as Film Daily reports. “It was a pretty amazing moment to be somewhere and have your shoulder get tapped and turn around [to see that] every female hero we have is standing there going, ‘How about it?’” she said. Theoretically, Feige said yes to the request. But Marvel has projects planned out through 2022, and there’s not an all-female project in sight.
I’m really glad Feige found it “amazing” to see women band together to make a request — but those women didn’t walk up to him to be marveled over for their initiative. “It is something that we’re really passionate about and we love,” Larson explained. “And I feel like if enough people out in the world talk about how much they want it, maybe it’ll happen.” So, is that what’s missing for Feige? Does he believe that not enough people in the world want it too? Or is it just that he’s less interested in courting the people who do want it — namely, women.
When I said I’ve been impressed with the direction Marvel has taken in recent years, I strictly mean their diversions from the superhero tropes I grew up with: white men with big muscles and lots of internal conflict lying to their girlfriends in order to save the world. At a certain point, there weren’t enough shirtless scenes in the world to keep me interested, and I declared a personal boycott of all things Marvel until women and people of color were given meaningful roles, with lives that extended beyond helping the main white guy with his big win.
And, for a while, Marvel did just that — the success of Black Panther undeniably opened up new doors, and they finally released a female-led superhero movie with Captain Marvel. But whatever Black Panther set in motion seemed to grind to a halt with Captain Marvel, as reviewers deemed it good, but not good enough. Like every first female venture into a previously male space, the entire value of our gender lay on the line — and critics weren’t quite convinced that this movie made us worthy of further chances.
Just look at this line from the review on RogerEbert.com: “Why does ‘Captain Marvel’ feel like a bit of a disappointment?” one reviewer writes. “It’s fine and often quite funny. … But the character, and the tremendous actress playing her in Oscar-winner Brie Larson, deserved more than fine. They — and the girls and women everywhere looking to “Captain Marvel” with wide eyes and high hopes for seeing themselves on screen — deserved a game-changer.”
all those dudes who bitched and moaned about Captain Marvel without even seeing the movie will be front row at Joker this weekend for no reason other than he has a penis
— Fred Delicious (@Fred_Delicious) October 4, 2019
Captain Marvel — like the new Ghostbusters or Oceans 8 — was never allowed to be just fine. They had to be spectacular, breathtaking “game-changers” for men to believe these movies had cleared the mark. Is it any wonder that Captain Marvel, well-received though it was, was seen as buckling under that weight? It wasn’t, in my opinion, the best and most exciting movie I’ve ever seen. But I remain livid that that was the bar it was held to.
Here’s how Brie Larson describes filming the scene in Endgame that brought together the women of the MCU: “It was just a great day … to get to be with all of those women for the day,” she confided. “As many people know, a lot of the time women aren’t working together. It’s kind of been this new breath of fresh air for us in our industry that there’s more female ensemble films, which has allowed us the opportunity to really communicate with one another.” (Both Jennifer Lopez and Keke Palmer have made similar comments about the experience of filming Hustlers.)
It’s wonderful that we are, finally, moving in the right direction. But the fact that women have been isolated on film sets for so long, and only now have the excitement of interacting with each other as peers, is a travesty. And Hollywood still isn’t treating it as one. Whatever Feige’s objections are to an all-female Marvel movie, he needs to stop shrugging at the female population of Marvel fans and stars alike and saying, “Convince me.” Larson shouldn’t have to offer a coded plea for fans to trumpet their interest in this movie for Feige to consider it. How many male-led projects has he given the green light without viewers begging for it?
While women everywhere know the experience of being asked to deliver twice as much and being given half the credit, that doesn’t mean we need to accept it in our entertainment too. I’d turned away from Marvel for years because I felt in my gut that the creators of these movies didn’t care about me as a viewer — not half as much, anyway, as they cared about special effects, violence and the personal tragedy of white men. If Marvel’s forays into stories led by and created by women and people of color end up being mere lip service, with no intent to dig deeper, I’m happy to turn away again. And I invite you to join me.
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