Thor: Ragnarok was criticized for being overly funny, but no one complained that Thor himself was smiling too much. Conversely, the films of the so-called DC Extended Universe have been ridiculed for not being funny enough -- yet the lack of a consistent grin on the faces of Superman and Batman have never been cited as part of the problem.
None of Captain Marvel's fellow MCU characters -- male or female -- have ever had their facial expressions altered because of an apparent lack of visible joy. Scarlett Johansson has been stoically staring down audiences as Black Widow since 2010's Iron Man 2, usually only deploying the rare up-curling of her lips for manipulative purposes.
What makes Carol Danvers different? The answer is simple, really: This is the first time a woman has been the solo lead in an MCU movie, and only one of a handful of times when a woman has led any superhero feature. As such, we see Larson's "emotionless" face in the majority of the trailer's footage -- thus, there's a lot more to examine. Judging by the tone of the trailer, Captain Marvel won't be a goofy side-quest like Ant-Man and The Wasp, the first Marvel Studios release to feature a female character's name in the title. Captain Marvel is set to be a big, intergalactic, action-packed romp. Carol is also being hyped as not only the new "face" of the MCU, but also its strongest character, and the last-minute savior who will help to defeat Thanos in Avengers 4. Right now, we need to know she can do the purple butt-kicking business requited, not that she's a laugh to be around.
Perhaps we will see her crack a few jokes when she takes a quick break from attempting to stop an alien war and recovering the gaps in her memory following a crash-landing on Earth Even if that turns out to be the case, though, it ignores the crux of the issue: People aren't complaining Captain Marvel isn't funny enough; they're complaining she isn't smiling enough.
Telling women to smile is one of the most petty moves from the sexism playbook. As a lot of women -- particularly those with "Resting Bitch Face" -- will tell you, the expectation on them to be happy, grinning idiots when they're doing little more than sitting on the bus or walking down the street is a frustratingly persistent one. There's a wealth of personal stories from women detailing instances of strange men crossing streets or going right to their faces in public to tell them, "Smile, honey!" That expectation is for women to always be likeable or, worse, decorative. It's a reminder that you're being watched, constantly. No matter where you go. And if your demeanor is found lacking then, rest assured, you'll be told to correct it before you start frightening children.
But, hey, if the worst anyone can say about Captain Marvel at this point is that she doesn't look super-psyched 100 percent of the time, Marvel might have another Black Panther on its hands.
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 the commander of Starforce, 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, 2019.