The Captain Marvel controversy is bullshit

I was recently surprised at the intense outpouring of hate and anger being directed at the new Captain Marvel film and as much as I planned to just ignore it, I simply had to read some more about just what the hell was going on. Turns out that I shouldn’t have been so surprised because as usual, it was internet keyboard warriors screaming into their echo chamber and raging about a movie that they hadn’t even seen yet. It was internet keyboard warriors ignoring the fact that this could well be another great Marvel film and urging a mass boycott based on lead actress Brie Larson’s views outside of her role as Captain Marvel.

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So…not so surprising then. Hate to say it guys but if you don’t want to watch something (for whatever reason) then just vote with your wallet and don’t watch it. What a concept! Heading to the ‘net to start getting angry and firing hateful shots doesn’t paint you in a very sophisticated light. Cinema operators probably don’t want people like you there anyway.

That’s not an attack on all detractors by the way, just the type I have described. It’s always okay to have an opinion and to decide that you don’t agree with something – whatever the reason – but putting it across in a calm, structured manner is always more likely to get people to listen to your view. Making Youtube videos to rage at a camera or posting Tweets comparing Brie Larson to Adolf Hitler is frankly embarassing. Sadly, this is the world we live in now. A world where the internet has given everybody a platform to mount and spew their ignorant, angry view and say things that they wouldn’t dare say in public or to somebody’s face.

The first grumblings I heard about Captain Marvel were from fans complaining that Brie Larson didn’t have the right figure to play a character like Captain Marvel. Given that comic books are primarily sold to a male audience who have grown up devouring artwork that depicts voluptuous, amazonian women in the role of superheroes then that wasn’t surprising. I do personally somewhat agree because the image I have of Captain Marvel (or her aliases, Ms Marvel and Warbird) is something like this:

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[Frank Cho is GOD by the way]

I’m not going to sugarcoat anything or attempt to be apologetic because that isn’t the way here on Unfiltered Opinion. I would fucking love it if the MCU version of Captain Marvel had the hips and bust of her comic book counterpart. Imagine somebody like Kate Upton in the costume for example.

BUT this is no reason to slag off Brie Larson and get all personal about things. Also, if you were a true geek, you would recall that Carol Danvers was originally a fighter pilot for the US military so you could in fact reasonably put forward the idea that her statuesque glamour model figure was never realistic to begin with. I certainly don’t remember her filling out as a result of gaining her superhuman powers (correct me if I’m wrong). She has always been a military woman and this would also blow away another of the complaints about the character not smiling enough in the film’s promotional shots. Why would a hardened ex-military woman fighting off alien invasions stand around smiling?

Some fans have taken this the wrong way and assumed that the dark, conspirational powers-that-be in the decision-making roles cast somebody like Larson as the character for this very reason. They think that political correctness is out to get them, remove all traces of sexuality from our movies and sterilise our entertainment in order to satisfy the militant feminists and vocal #metoo crowd. Looking at the wider picture outside of this specific movie, I do think that there is an element of truth in this idea but I cannot believe that it is being driven on a conscious basis, one movie at a time. It is merely a reflection of the times we live in.

Thing is, comic books were – for the longest time – sold to men and teenage boys and written/illustrated by men. Of course, the women were going to be sexy and appealing. It was how they sold comics and also how the creators of said characters wanted them to look. I’m not condemning that because as a man, I’ve certainly enjoyed comics over the years and how the likes of Emma Frost, Captain Marvel and Black Widow were drawn. I will continue to do so too. The movies on the other hand have exploded in popularity and now have to cater to a wider audience if they want to keep on growing. Yeah, it sucks that they can’t look exactly how we want them to but do you expect Marvel to turn away Larson based on her measurements or cup size?

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But this was only the tip of the monolithic iceberg of hate and resentment that I came across. I ventured below the icy waters a bit further to see just how large this ‘berg was but was careful not to go too deep. You see, the biggest source of anger was surrounding Larson’s comments about Captain Marvel‘s press tour being more diverse and inclusive. Traditional male fans hit back, leaping to the conclusion that the actress was saying that the movie wasn’t for them and that it was a vehicle for political correctness and encouraging diversity.

I don’t want to get too deep into this because I will openly admit that I don’t know enough to start throwing judgments about. What I will say is this: when did superhero films suddenly need to get so deep and involved in social events? We saw it with Black Panther and all the praise for it being a ‘black’ film in the mainstream. I heard more about that than the actual film itself. The fact that it featured a black cast should have been a given since the fictional country of Wakanda is in Africa. Yet somehow it generated this massive buzz as if people were excited that Marvel Studios hadn’t cast white actors in the place of black actors. As far as I was concerned, it was just a very accurate and successful, common-sense casting that anybody would have seen as the only way forward.

And now we have Captain Marvel being in the news for all the wrong reasons and all of this debate about Brie Larson’s comments and beliefs rather than the movie itself. The only thing I’m hulking out about is the superhero genre becoming such a battleground for social issues. Stop all of this bullshit. These are meant to be popcorn films and simple escapism, not Oscar-winning productions or reasons to start debating sexism or discrimination. It was always this way and that was fine.

To the riled-up haters: grow up and just don’t watch Captain Marvel if it offends you. Yes, not everything lines up with what us comic book fans might want to see but flinging shitty insults and ignorant views around in an aggressive manner won’t get anybody to take you seriously. Brie Larson was hired to play the part based on her acting skills and you really don’t need to dig deeper and berate a movie based on an actor/actress’s comments outside of the film. No, I’m not saying that you should like her (or anybody) and you are one-hundred percent entitled to disagree with what she is saying (I don’t agree with a lot of it) but does it need to get any more serious than that?

To the film industry and actors/actresses: stop turning brain-off entertainment and escapism into debates on social issues, sexism, equality, discrimination etc. These are all important talking points but we are exposed to them constantly through the media and society. We don’t need it spilling over into comic book films for fuck’s sake. I want to watch these movies for what they are and decide whether I enjoyed them or if they were shit without all of this background context going on. It’s getting hard to just be a geek for fuck’s sake.

 

2 thoughts on “The Captain Marvel controversy is bullshit

  1. You had me up until

    “The only thing I’m hulking out about is the superhero genre becoming such a battleground for social issues.”

    Comics have always, ALWAYS been a medium for discussing social issues, especially Marvel comics. To use a tired example, The X-Men started as a metaphor for race relations in the 60s. The excitement over Black Panther wasn’t that it featured a predominantly black cast, it was that a character that featured a technologically advanced, non third world African nation was getting a BIG BUDGET, MAINSTREAM FRANCHISE. When past representations of your people or homeland include Blood Diamond, Lord of War, The Last King of Scotland, or Tears of the Sun, having an African nation (even a fictional one) portrayed as something other than a war-torn slum is something worth celebrating. This is even more true when the movie is actually GOOD, as in the case of Black Panther.

    Similarly now, Captain Marvel is getting hate from all the MRA keyboard warriors for…whatever weird fucking reasons. The Illuminati plotting with the deep state to rob masculinity from all men or something. There is a very clear theme to this movie, but IMO it wasn’t an explicitly or specifically feminist one. Yes the protagonist is female, which again is no small thing (my above argument applies to women as well) but the overarching message that I got from this movie is this; when you get knocked down, you get back up. No matter what anyone else tells you or who tries to stop you, you get back up. And I think that’s a universal message.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I do have to stand by my wish for comic book movies to not become “battlegrounds for social issues” though. Small elements included in the actual movie itself? No problem with that. Your X-Men example is a perfect one – one that I do remember reading about but had forgotten until reading your comment. What I was trying to get at moreso was all of the outrage involving people in the movie (in this case, Brie Larson) and those who are angry and ranting about paranoid notions such as movies intentionally trying to attack masculinity. Stuff that actually has nothing to do with the movie itself. I haven’t seen Captain Marvel yet (hence why I didn’t try to write the post as if I HAD) but it’s telling that rather than reading about the movie itself and how faithful of an adaptation it is, all I’m seeing are news stories about controversy and these paranoid theories. This is the kind of crap that I don’t want surrounding superhero movies.

      In general, all that is important to me when it comes to a superhero movie is a) how authentic it is to the source material (because I’m a geek) and b) that I don’t have to engage too many braincells and pick up on social/cultural messages. Don’t get me wrong, I DO watch those kinds of movies but as far as I am concerned, they are a different genre of cinema. There will be people that disagree of course and say that every genre should be open to include deeper meaning but I’m also willing to bet that there are thousands more who DON’T want anything more than an accurate representation of their favourite comic book heroes and plotlines. That’s the beauty of opinions though: we all have them.

      I do thank you for enlightening me a bit more on the Black Panther stuff though. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard that side of the positive critique for the movie so that’s interesting to me.

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