Review: Sexists hate Captain Marvel, and Marvel loves that

Is Captain Marvel is getting hate for the wrong reasons? (Young Joo Jun/AQ)

When I entered the cinema to see Captain Marvel with my friend who had already seen it, he said “You’re gonna love this film, it has so much to say.”

But when I left the movie, I felt like they definitely had lots to say – but they didn’t know how to say it, or at least they didn’t know how to convey the multi-layered story they were trying to tell.

The friend I saw it with is not like some young men who have been blindly and fervently criticizing Captain Marvel. Many rallied, attempting to make the film bomb. They boycotted the film and gave zero star reviews on film critique sites before the film was released.

Some critics didn’t like that Captain Marvel is a female superhero, and some didn’t like that lead actress Brie Larson has called for more reviews to be written by people other than white men.

But I didn’t like the film because it was poorly written.

The movie relies far too much on Larson being the first female Marvel superhero to lead a film. There’s also the added challenge that Captain Marvel has not been introduced in a previous movie, like most other Marvel heroes have.

The result is a movie that contains an introduction, an origin story, advertising for the upcoming Avengers movie and a bad attempt at feminist messaging.

Believe me, as a feminist it hurts me to shit on this movie. It sucks even more that the movie is deserving of being shit on. It feels like they spend the whole movie basically saying, “Wow, it’s a real life woman and she is a superhero. Wow, look at what we are doing, and oh wow, she’s so sassy and FUNNY! PLEASE LAUGH!”

This sort of forced humour is pretty standard in Marvel films, but the entire movie felt forced. The writing was clunky, the characters weren’t relatable and the lead’s entire character arch was basically, “She’s a woman!”

In one scene, Captain Marvel is basically shaming her best friend for not wanting to leave her daughter to go on a dangerous space mission. She told her friend she is so smart and strong that she shouldn’t care about leaving her young daughter behind to launch herself into space, without a spacesuit, in a flight craft with the equivalent sound of sticking a Tim’s cup in your bike spokes to make it sound like a motorcycle. I can’t stress this enough: PUTTING ROCKETS ON A PLANE DOESN’T MAKE IT A SPACESHIP!

The movie fails to address serious issues, like how girls and boys are often treated differently from the time they’re born till the time they’re dead, which results in problems like low female interest and representation in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and management positions.

One of my qualms is that Marvel tries so hard to be family-friendly and push the opinion that Captain Marvel is a female superhero for kids to look up to.

Marvel opted for vague, poorly executed “character development” of Captain Marvel through her defiance of superiors who told her she was “too emotional” and had to learn to control herself. It felt like they were just setting up a straw-woman of stereotypes for Captain Marvel to defy.

I felt like Captain Marvel didn’t have to learn anything or face any challenges aside from physical attacks. Yes, there were meaningful relationships between the characters and none of them were romantic – it passes the Bechdel test, but I still don’t like it.

The real kicker is that the film is doing well. In two weeks it has brought in more than $266-million domestically and $760-million worldwide. This already places it above the lifetime domestic sales of its Marvel peers, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Doctor Strange and obviously Ant-Man and The Wasp

In response to the sexists who are boycotting the film, many people, including those who wouldn’t normally see a superhero film, are storming the theatres to see Captain Marvel. And most don’t care if the film is good or bad because, wow! It has a female lead. 

Some, including myself, expect more from Marvel. I want a movie which is feminist and doesn’t make me cringe the entire length of the film. I want a Marvel movie that takes risks and doesn’t blame the minority lead when their sub-par filmmaking is critiqued.