In the words of Evangeline Lily’s Hope van Dyne in the post-credits scene from Ant-Man; she spoke of finally being allowed to pursue a life of fulfilment through heroic action, she wasn’t just speaking about The Wasp herself but about female superhero leads in general. The Captain Marvel movie may now have been pushed back to July 2018 so that Ant-Man and the Wasp is now the first Marvel movie to have a female lead, but Captain Marvel will still be the first Marvel movie with a singular female lead. Groundbreaking; but how successful is it going to be?
My two cents on the matter; I think it will struggle, and for several reasons. Firstly, to make it clear, I adore female superheroes and there is a gender equality issue in Hollywood at the moment, stemming from a lack of written scripts providing opportunities for female leads in such roles. However, I am not convinced they will be as well received by wider audiences as they will be by critics and fans, whatever the reason may be for such a trend I am yet to be convinced a female superhero can carry a franchise.
Secondly, Captain Marvel has a main contender and that is the DC/Warner Bro. movie Wonder Woman. Probably the most iconic female super heroine in history, and the movie that has the greatest chance of gaining interest in such roles. This means that the marketing for Captain Marvel may be drowned out by the hype surrounding Wonder Woman, and even though the movies are a year apart, the marketing and advertising may be starting around the time Wonder Woman is released and if the movie is a success fans will be looking forward to the release of Justice League Part 2 movie in 2019 which sandwiches Captain Marvel. Then again if Wonder Woman is successful, it may increase demand for female led superhero movies and then act as a springboard for Captain Marvel to gain more attention and be even more successful.
However, outside of comic book fans, how many people know of the character Captain Marvel? A superhero movie with an unknown titular character is always going to be fighting uphill for attention whether the character is male or female, and Captain Marvel is coming out of relative anonymity. Therefore, for the movie to be a success, either there will have to be an extraordinary marketing campaign; making my previous point on the influence of Wonder Woman more prevalent, or there will have to be a previous introduction to the character e.g. in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as there is that alien/space origin to the character. Otherwise, how can Marvel maximise the success of the movie when the character is hardly known to anybody?
Finally, Marvel have to be really careful of DC’s Wonder Woman not simply because of chronological significance but because of how the character it portrayed. A huge amount of attention will fall on how a female superhero will be portrayed or will it fall into archetypal depictions of women being at the mercy of men etc. and surrounding issues. That is why I think Wonder Woman could be such a success but so difficult to transfer to movie, she is strong, combating, honest, true and stunningly beautiful but at the same time is almost completely ignorant of this fact and is even confused as to how it can affect men and how it is so significant in society, that people should be more than just their appearance. Which is probably even more relevant in the shallow, materialistic and short-termism nature of today’s society, than when it was originally written. If Warner Bros. are successful in conveying WW in this way, and the more serious perspective DC/Warner are taking with their movies it is probable, then Captain Marvel cannot afford to slip back into unwanted territory of how they portray women in movies. Admittedly I do not believe Marvel have failed thus far, but they have a lighter, more jovial feel to their movies and this could lead to a perceived lack of respect for a character which may not be as well received given the surrounding circumstances.
Nevertheless, Captain Marvel is an awesomely powerful, authoritative, dynamic and colourful character with the potential to be a tremendous edition to the Marvel Universe. I hope it goes brilliantly, despite the questions and issues that will inevitably surround the production. What about you? Are you looking forward to it? How do you think female super heroes should be portrayed? What would you like to see? Do you even know of Captain Marvel? Who would you like to see play the titular character? My pick is Yvonne Strahovski. So that’s my two cents, hope it is of value to you and thanks for the read.