“Captain Marvel” is the franchise’s latest installment which opened this week. It’s expected to make more than $350 million worldwide in its opening weekend.
But leading up to its release was a constant insistence that it was a “feminist” movie and that anyone who doesn’t like it is just sexist and doesn’t like female-led superhero movies (ignoring the fact that critics and audiences both adored “Wonder Woman”). Critics on Rotten Tomatoes trashed the movie, though that clearly means nothing to theater-going audiences.
The intensity for which this movie has been presented as a feminist wonder has not been seen since the “Ghostbusters” remake with an all women cast. Feminists certainly tried this with “Wonder Woman,” but star Gal Gadot didn’t stir the pot and the film was actually well-made and entertaining.
But “Captain Marvel” will certainly be held up as a feminist movie, and the character’s comic-book writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick, even believes academic papers will be written about a particular scene in the movie.
DeConnick gave an entertaining and humble interview to the Hollywood Reporter, but at one point she’s asked if she was surprised, shocked, or impressed by anything during filming or during a final scene. DeConnick responded:
“There is a scene toward the end, I think there are going to be women's studies and academic papers written about this scene. I have a lot of opinions about it. I think it is bold as hell and sorely needed. And then there's something that's missing from this film that I also think is crazy progressive. But I'm afraid identifying either one of those things would be a spoiler.”
No doubt DeConnick is correct, and it doesn’t appear as though she necessarily wrote the character with an aim toward academic papers. One day, however, someone will find something sexist in “Captain Marvel’s” portrayal. Gender Studies academics never disappoint.
This is not a criticism of DeConnick. Her interview was eye-opening and her explanations behind many of Captain Marvel’s character choices in the comic were fantastic (her answer on Goose is especially endearing).
It’s just the entire culture of branding particular movies before they’re even released as masterpieces and achievements for identity groups that are non-white males. We weren’t allowed to criticize “Ghostbusters,” or “Wonder Woman,” or “Black Panther,” or “Captain Marvel” or else we were deemed bigots. Pinning so much of one’s identity on a single movie can’t be healthy.
But this is where we are with modern feminism and other identity groups. This movie probably will inspire lazily written women’s studies essays from undergrads and academics alike. And they’ll be just as wooden and flat as Brie Larson’s performance in “Captain Marvel.”