Earlier this month, Captain Marvel star Brie Larson commented during an interview for Marie Claire that she had been making efforts to ensure press days for her films are "more inclusive," after noticing that press tours for previous films she was promoting have been covered by journalists who were "overwhelmingly white male." Nearly as soon as Larson's comments were published, she and the Marvel Cinematic Universe film faced backlash from certain circles outraged by the Academy Award winner's actions. Online trolls began to leave negative scores for the film on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, weeks ahead of the movie's wide release to the general public; unfounded claims, to say the least.
Accordingly, a significant number of the negative audience reviews do not address the quality of the film itself, but instead accuse Larson of sexist and racist remarks for her comments, presumably in an effort to preemptively give the MCU film a strong negative word-of-mouth and potentially hurt its opening weekend box office. Several days later, a separate interviewer innocuously asked Larson about her previous comments in the Marie Claire interview. Without walking back her stance, Larson clarified that she believes that press opportunities should be expanded, offering more opportunities to reporters of different, more diverse backgrounds rather than excluding established representation.
The thing is, there was never any need for Larson to clarify her previous statements in the first place. Larson's public stance was not to exclude white, male, heterosexual reporters from her films' press coverage, nor was it for Captain Marvel not to appeal to white, male, heterosexual audiences. Larson's original statements made it clear that she had noticed that press cover for her previous films had not included a wide variety of perspectives. She specifically mentioned approaching the University of Southern California's renowned Annenberg School of Communication to fact-check her concerns, and contacting reporters from other publications before going public with her stance. The level of background research Larson undertook in it of itself is laudable.
At no point does Larson, or anyone else, say white, male, heterosexual reporters should not cover or review films or be reduced in number for diversity's sake. Roger Ebert was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his work with the Chicago Sun Times covering films for decades, and deservedly so. However, entertainment reporters and writers Ebert, Leonard Maltin and Richard Roeper, while all accomplished and rightfully celebrated, share a relatively common background and perspective on film, one that doesn't necessarily speak to audience members from varying backgrounds of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation and physical capability. As the subject matter and characters of films and television expand to include these different backgrounds, along with the casts and crews producing them, it's only logical that the press covering them should diversify accordingly, and add a greater sense of perspective to a largely homogenous pool.
It is important to point out that, despite the exaggerated controversy, Larson did not recant her previous comments. Rather, she subtly doubled down on them to broaden the message of inclusivity. As someone serving as the figurehead for a multi-million dollar film from a major studio as part of one of the most recognizable brands worldwide, there is an enormous amount of responsibility on her shoulders. But, as another superhero within that same brand frequently reminds audiences, power and responsibility often come as a package deal. Larson has, and continues to use her elevated platform to provide opportunities to voices that are often marginalized by the majority, and she's doing it without a calculated intent to compromise the established voices that already exist.
Those outraged by Larson's earlier comments regarding diverse press coverage presumably did not take the time to read beyond headlines or, more likely, simply don't care. Any grievous misinterpretation of her stance appears to come mainly from circles that are actively attempting to tank what is tracking to be another major box office and critical success for Marvel Studios. That Larson has dealt with the backlash with grace, patience and poise without backpedaling at all is something to be praised in this volatile day and age. Higher, further, faster, indeed.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck from a script they wrote with Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch, Meg LeFauve, Nicole Perlman and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jude Law as Mar-Vell, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer, Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos and Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau. The film arrives on March 8.