The Controversy Around Captain Marvel


Kaitilin Lee, Staff Writer

On International Women’s Day, the first female-led Marvel superhero film, Captain Marvel, was released. Since it was the first Marvel studios movie centering on a female superhero, of course, it had a lot of weight on its shoulders, as it had to be a major blockbuster, a fun action film, and had to serve a powerful message to young girls. However, even before the film was released, it faced a major backlash from Internet trolls and outraged critics, mostly consisting of men. Where exactly did this hate come from?

Much of the hate, unfortunately, centers on actress Brie Larson’s quotes which were then taken out of context. Larson is a noted actress who has won an Oscar and is very open about her beliefs. For instance, in a speech given at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards, on the discussion of the mixed reviews of Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, Larson stated, “I don’t need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work about A Wrinkle in Time. It wasn’t made for him! I want to know what it meant to women of color, biracial women, to teen women of color.” Larson has also criticized how movie critics and journalists are for the majority white, heterosexual, and male, and urged for more diversity.

Trolls took her comments out of context and spun them to seem that Larson hated white men, despite Larson having previously stated that she isn’t “saying [she] hates white dudes.” Many took to the Internet to downvote any video connected to Captain Marvel or Larson, often commenting how bigoted or prejudiced Larson was. They also sought to “review bomb” the film on the popular film rating site Rotten Tomatoes, giving Captain Marvel poor reviews despite never having seen the film.

Additionally, many misogynists have taken to making plain sexist remarks about Captain Marvel. According to Time’s Eliana Dockterman, “Telling a woman to smile more is a favorite tactic of misogynists, and a cohort of Twitter provocateurs quickly latched onto Larson’s stoic visage when the teaser premiered.” Larson herself responded to this harassment on her Instagram, saying “Breaking news: You can be you. That means you can smile or not.”

Despite the attempts of trolls, Captain Marvel has shot towards success, grossing over $455 million in the box office, which is, according to The Washington Post, “the sixth biggest global movie debut to date.” The film has also gained mixed but mostly positive reviews and is Certified Fresh at 79% positive.

Again, as it did with Aquaman, Black Panther, and Wonder Woman, the world has shown through its taste in cinema that not only is more diversity encouraged, but greatly desired. No amount of trolling can fight that fact, and it is clear that Hollywood will continue to break new ground as audiences continue to ask for more.