I Am Captain Marvel (And So Can You!)

It was not that long ago that Marvel released their upcoming slate of comic book films. Like most comic book fans, I was incredibly excited at the prospect of a decade of Marvel movies.

Phase 3

 

However, as tantalizing as a two-part Infinity War sounds, I think there is a film that is more exciting and important than any other on the list.  Allow me to tell you why I am so thrilled that we are getting a Captain Marvel movie, and why you should be too.

Words are not quite sufficient to describe how ecstatic I am to have a Captain Marvel movie in the works.  To say that having a female-led Marvel movie is long overdue is the epitome of an understatement.  For years, we were fed the line that women are incapable of leading their own action film, that it would be too risky for the studio, that no one was familiar enough with the female characters, and that no one would go to see it. Then we got a movie that starred a sarcastic raccoon, a talking tree, and an unparalleled soundtrack.

No, seriously.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy went on to become a commercial and critical success, which just added more confusion to the claim that a female superhero would simply be too much of a risk for the studio.

Let’s introduce some math to this scenario: The Hunger Games Saga has grossed over a billion dollars in the United States alone, with another film coming out in November.  Then there’s Lucy (starring Marvel’s own Scarlett Johansson), which made $126,000,000 domestically, despite mixed reviews by critics.  Frozen, Disney’s first film to star two princesses, cracked the 400 million mark.  My point is that people across the gender spectrum are paying lots of money to see movies that star female leads.  The key to Marvel sharing in that success, however, is not to avoid making a movie about a female hero, but to make a good movie about a female hero.

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There have been only three movies to date that truly starred a female superhero.  I will be the first to say that they were all disasters from start to finish (well, after Marvel’s CEO).  They were annihilated by the critics and did poorly at the box office.  However, for someone to point at Catwoman or Elektra and say “See?  Women can’t carry a film!” is completely outrageous.  Those films failed because they were bad films.  They were not bad films because they starred women.  For a studio like Marvel, which has shown time and again that they are able to put wonderfully talented people in place both in front of and behind the camera, it is insulting to think that they have been this slow to make this decision.  This is a studio that is planning to put out at least one film a year for the foreseeable future, a pace few studios can maintain, so for them to imply that films with female leads (or, god forbid, some women of color) are risky is completely ridiculous.

Luckily, the fans have not stayed quiet.  There has been no shortage of people calling to see a film about the Black Widow.  Comic books starring Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel have sold quite well and the character has a strong following known as the Carol Corp.  The fuse is set and we are ready to see this amazing event explode on screen.  Luckily, Marvel has finally lit the match.

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At this point, some folks might be wondering why it is even important to have a female-led movie in the first place.  After all, Black Widow has been pretty awesome in movies like Captain America: Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy gave us Gamora and Nebula, a pair of powerful sisters who can go toe to toe with just about anyone.  To be honest, I think that’s great.  But it’s not enough.  Art has the power to take us to other worlds and across galaxies.  It has the power to turn muggles into wizards.  It has the power to introduce us to aliens as we travel through space and time on the Millennium Falcon or the TARDIS.

The alien thing doesn’t always go well, but you get the point

 

But even more importantly than all of that, art has the power to reveal real life truths about ourselves and the world around us.  We learn about ourselves when we read even the most fantastical fiction.  Art has the ability and the power to empower us to try new things, to embolden us to experience fear and adversity, and to make us feel like we matter and are worth fighting for.  And the only way for that immense power of art to be felt by everyone is to have works of art that include all different people groups.  It is easy for me to sit in a theater and identify with Tony Stark or Steve Rogers – that’s what privilege looks like. Which is exactly why we need characters like the Carol Danvers to be apart of this marvelous world that these films are building. A healthy level of self-esteem is something that not only makes us feel good about the people we are, but also acts as a natural defense against some of the biggest issues facing our world today. Survivors of abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and bullying have a better chance to find a foot hold if they have strong self-esteem – and we know that stories of heroism can encourage that.   So why would anyone in their right mind feel angry about the fact that we want more works of art that can aid in the highly valuable task of building self-esteem?

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Despite the fact that we have no idea who the director of the film will be, or the actress who will portray Carol on screen, Marvel’s track record certainly inspires confidence.  Having said that, there is a big responsibility on the shoulders of us as the viewers.  We need to see this movie so that we can prove that studios will be rewarded to making high quality films about female characters.

This is why I think the argument can be made that Captain Marvel is the single most important movie of Marvel’s Phase III.  If we want a more complex, diverse, and representative universe within the world of Marvel, we need to prove that by showing our support when certain films are released.  So if you know of someone who identifies with Carol Danvers, if you have a sister or a daughter that would benefit from seeing an empowered, confident, and progressive female character on screen, or if you just want as many people as possible to gain an increase in self-esteem, self-image, and self-acceptance, then go see Captain Marvel.  You see, at the end of the day, the film industry is a business and it comes down to the bottom line.  Which means that we as the audience have the power.  And with great power, comes great responsibility.

 

Written by Clinician Peter O.
Edited by Community Engagement Coordinator Dominic G.
Questions?
You can reach Peter at polthoff@wearehopeworks.org!
You can reach Dominic at dgoodall@wearehopeworks.org!

Disclaimer:

The views expressed in this article are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of HopeWorks of Howard County.

 

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