Disney’s newest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel, is set to be released this Friday. Starring Brie Larson, is a much-anticipated installment that comes directly after the cliffhanger that audiences were left on after Avengers: Infinity War.
While many are calling the film “controversial,” claiming Marvel Studios is making a movie pandering to the social justice theme of the era. But some have to wonder if fans are actually worried about the controversy, or if they’re just nitpicking over Marvel’s first movie with a female lead.
One of the first major issues fans had with Captain Marvel was when Marvel Studio’s president, Kevin Feige, stated that she would be the strongest hero the MCU had ever seen and fans instantly were concerned. How could a hero that was just being introduced into the universe be the strongest?
Citing the comics, many fans stated that Captain Marvel was not the strongest character that Marvel had to offer, and clearly, this was a PR move aimed to please the feminists, and Marvel should stay away from social justice.
Unfortunately for these fans, they seem to have forgotten that one of their favorite heroes has an origin story rooted in what they would call “social justice commentary.” Captain America was developed by two Jewish men, Jack Kirby, and Joe Simon, as a way to outwardly express disdain towards the messages Hitler was sending to the world.
On the cover of his debut issue in 1941, Captain America is seen punching Hitler, an incredibly bold move for the time. As Marvel editor Tom Brevoort told the Washington Post in August of 2017, “Today, this would be like putting Vladimir Putin or somebody on a comic-book cover and vilifying him…Hitler was then a standing world leader with an impressive military machine behind him and a number of sympathizers in the U.S.”
So let’s put aside the social justice beginnings of Marvel to focus on the current state of Marvel’s social justice. Larson herself is an outspoken feminist and is very politically active. Many fans have pointed this out as a reason to not have hired her, stating that Larson would just be using Marvel’s platform to boost her own political agenda.
A funny thing to accuse of her, when the same fans don’t bat an eye at Chris Evans taking any opportunity to jab at President Donald Trump on Twitter, or Mark Ruffalo being an outspoken environmentalist. The double standard isn’t even trying to disguise itself in this case.
Probably the most hilarious backlash, however, were fans complaining that Larson’s character was not smiling enough in the first trailer and posters released. Some fans go as far as to say her expression looks “bored” or “wooden” and could use some variety. Twitter user @HeyMermaid took old Marvel Studio posters with male leads and photoshopped them to include large, toothy smiles. Larson then took those images and put them on her Instagram story.
On the opposite hand, the most disturbing backlash came over the past week. After Larson had made a comment about most of the journalists she’d been interacting with being “overwhelmingly white males,” many of those fans went to the Rotten Tomatoes “Audience Score” page to leave a barrage of bad reviews before the movie has even been released.
Many of these trolls stated the above arguments of pushing a political agenda that they clearly don’t agree with. The incredible amount of trolls leaving comments had managed to plummet the film’s rating from a 96 percent to a 54 percent. It didn’t take long, however, for Rotten Tomatoes to put an end to this by implementing a new policy, in that Audience Score tabs will be closed for movies that hadn’t been released yet. Rotten Tomatoes cited this exact backlash as the reason why.
There are legitimate criticisms of the film out there. Slater has already dubbed the film as “mediocre,” and following a formula–which puts it on the same playing field as other Marvel movies. Despite what these troll-fans would suggest, feminists won’t tear a news outlet apart just for not giving the film a good review. The core difference is a review based on what’s seen in the actual movie versus a review based off poorly disguised double standards that a movie with a male lead wouldn’t be compared to.
The bottom line is to look at any and all criticism carefully–ask yourself if the same thing would ever be asked of a male star or a male superhero. If the answer is “no,” then that critic is being sexist. Looking at all the reviews, it seems the “controversy” surrounding Captain Marvel is made up by overwhelming men who will find any reason to bring down a project just because a woman is the face of the project.