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Turns out no woman is immune to being told she should smile more — not even if she’s a half-alien superhero in the process of saving the world. Following the release of the first Captain Marvel trailer on Tuesday, a Twitter user posted screen caps of star Brie Larson in costume, with a digitally rendered smile on her face (achieved using the photo-manipulation program FaceApp). “I fixed Captain Marvel,” wrote the user, who goes by the surprisingly self-aware handle “Turd Flinging Monkey.” Here’s the before-and-after, which has gotten over a thousand likes as of press time.
Oscar winner Brie Larson, as you may know, is the first woman to helm a Marvel superhero movie — which puts her in a prime spot for backlash from angry misogynists. The user who created these images is an outspoken opponent of women’s equality who frequently posts in support of the Gamergate movement (which targets women who participate in or critique the video game industry) and repealing the 19th amendment, which allows women to vote in U.S. elections. The images of a dead-eyed, smiling Larson are no doubt a deliberate effort to get a rise out of women who are tired of men telling them to smile (more on that here) and men who don’t want women to have basic autonomy over things like their own facial expressions.
Fortunately, the Captain Marvel trailer contains the perfect response to this nonsense.
— Katie Schenkel 🏰♥ (@JustPlainTweets) September 19, 2018
Plenty of women are also voicing their objections on social media to the smile transformation.
The whole enterprise is gross (shoutout to Stop Telling Women To Smile by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh) but there’s something especially disturbing about the fact that her eyes communicate something else, even as her mouth is changed.
Fume/die/grieve inside but look pleasant please https://t.co/6wMoETVOLn
— Soraya Nadia McDonald (@SorayaMcDonald) September 20, 2018
The crazy thing is, Brie Larson does smile in the Captain Marvel trailer (which, at 90 seconds, is really more of a teaser). Here’s one example.
To the extent that Captain Marvel doesn’t show emotion, that’s actually part of her character’s backstory: Her DNA have been fused with the Kree, an alien warrior race. “You have this Kree part of her that’s unemotional, that is an amazing fighter and competitive,” Larson told Entertainment Weekly. “Then there’s this human part of her that is flawed but is also the thing she ends up leading by.”
Even if that weren’t the case, why does it matter whether a superhero is smiling? Batman, Iron Man, Captain America, and yes, even Wonder Woman are notably unsmiling in their respective film trailers. Avengers: Infinity War is the highest-grossing film of 2018, and you know who’s smiling in that trailer? Only Thanos. (You know, the bad guy.) This irony did not escape Larson, who reposted some digitally altered images of smiling male Marvel heroes (created by Twitter user Hey Mermaid) on an Instagram story.
I agree, Captain Marvel needs to smile more, so she fits in with the rest of the universe pic.twitter.com/CAJ7MzUOxK
— Jane Ritt ⚡ (@heymermaid) September 19, 2018
Along with the pics, Larson posted a message on her Instagram story to her followers, assuring them: “You can smile or not. You can be strong in the ways you want to be.” Spoken like a true hero.
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