The third phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is inching closer to its climactic end, but there are still many post-phase-three films to be excited for. Among them is the long-awaited Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson as the titular character. It’ll be the first MCU solo film with a female lead, which is fitting for the character and exciting for many reasons.
Some quick history about the character: the current Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers, began as a United States Air Force officer, debuting in “Where Stalks the Sentry” in Marvel Super Heroes #13 (written by Roy Thomas with artwork by Gene Colan, Paul Reinman and Stan Goldberg). For years, she was just an associate of the original Captain Marvel, a Kree soldier/superhero known as Mar-Vell. That changed when she caught in the explosion of a Kree device that altered her on a genetic level. Carol now possessed features of both human and Kree physiology, though it wasn’t until much later that she would discover this. When she did, she became Ms. Marvel, a powerful and prominent superhero in the Marvel Universe.
Ms. Marvel was written in the 1970’s with feminism in mind. She was an openly feminist character from Ms. Marvel #1 onwards and it made Marvel’s stance on the topic clear. That may not seem as special now but back then it was downright revolutionary. Keep in mind that these ideals were in no way mainstream at the time. Today, Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel continues to act as a symbol of feminine power and equality, which recently, have become important ideals for the media to focus on and help to discuss. There were few other characters in comics that received the same treatment and popularity, the obvious one being Wonder Woman.
While Ms. Marvel has been popular at various points in time, she never quite reached the same level of popularity as Wonder Woman. Therefore, she’s not had the same cultural impact as DC’s heroine, despite Marvel’s efforts to bring her closer to the center of its universe. You can see this by looking at the sales figures of their respective titles, or by simply looking at the hype leading up to their films. People looked forward to 2017’s Wonder Woman film, and its cultural significance was immediately understood. The same doesn’t seem to be happening for Captain Marvel… at least, not yet. While it may not have the same impact on cinema as Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel still represents something significant. We’re just waiting to see if it does so with the same grace and confidence.
You can see the effect Wonder Woman has had on the industry in general. A female lead in a superhero film no longer seems like as much of a risk from the perspective of filmmakers, prompting many to call for more female-led films, including a Lady Liberators-based all-female superhero film, pitched by the MCU’s female stars. Karen Gillan recently expressed that now is the time for such a movie, more than ever and she was absolutely right.
It’s clear that there has been a shift in attitudes in regards to female-led superhero films. It was a change that occurred gradually, with Wonder Woman providing incontrovertible proof it was occurring. In the wake of the Gal Gadot-led film’s success, calls from fans for solo films starring characters such as Black Widow should be taken more seriously.
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