Captain Marvel is already going down in flames even before its release date, and Disney, media outlets, and now even Rotten Tomatoes itself, are pulling out all the stops in order to make it appear that the movie is more popular with moviegoers than it actually is.
The reason for this isn’t just monetary. It’s because, from the beginning, Captain Marvel has carried with it the modern political message of feminism and social justice. Brie Larson, the movie’s lead, has made it clear that she wants to see less white men reviewing her film, and suggested that she doesn’t want to hear the opinions of 40-year-old white dudes on movies that weren’t made for them.
Meanwhile, the press and feminist activists are acting like this movie is smashing a glass ceiling. The first of its kind, and a door opening to a Hollywood where female superhero/action hero leads can finally exist.
Only, like the artificial hype for Captain Marvel, this too is a fantasy. It’s a fantasy they need to push in order to make Captain Marvel seem more important in the annals of movie history than it actually is, but women have been celebrated in action leads for a long, long time.
And here’s proof.
1. Furiosa – Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
One of my all-time favorite female leads, Furiosa is a hard woman who is a respected leader among her people. She decides to betray her own leader and her troops in order to do the right thing, and rescue women from an evil patriarch and bring them to a place of safety and rest. She sounds like every feminist’s dream, but she’s proven to be far from invincible, and even sometimes incapable. She needs help, and finds it in the form of Max Rockatansky who she learns to trust and even admire. They take turns saving each other’s lives and kindle a trust that brings the two charging straight into the heart of the enemy together. A superbly written character with actual depth that could have easily been a Mary Sue, but was made into a character worth paying attention to.
2. Ellen Ripley – Alien Franchise
Usually, the first strong female lead that comes to mind when the subject is brought up is Ellen Ripley, who fought the vicious alien Xenomorphs thrice before dying, then coming back as a clone and doing it again. When it comes to sci-fi/action female protagonists, Ripley is usually considered the mold, and for good reason. She’s not the strongest or the smartest, but she pushes through with what she has with grit and will. What’s more, she shows that she cares for others, going out of her way to save children in the face of a gruesome death.
3. Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games Series
How this gets overlooked is beyond me, especially since it was a cultural phenomenon for a number of years. Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games series is one of the more badass women to grace the screen, and her story is phenomenal. Thrust into a literal game of life and death by an oppressive government after she volunteered to do so on behalf of her sister, she sets in motion an entire revolution to overthrow a dictator and establish freedom for the people. She loses as many battles as she wins, and watches as her actions get people she loves killed and tortured, but she endures it at great cost in order to save who she can.
4. Lucy Miller – Lucy (2014)
Scarlett Johanson hasn’t been given a Black Widow standalone film (though she needs one) but if you want to see her in her own female lead sci-fi/action movie, then you can watch Lucy. This the story of a woman tricked by her boyfriend into a high-stakes drug deal, subsequently kidnapped, forced into servitude as a drug mule, who then gains unlooked for powers by the unique drug they sewed into her body that was unleashed while they abused her, and then becomes an unstoppable, hyper-intelligent, omnipotent godlike entity. Feminists should be holding Lucy up as their mascot…yet they aren’t for some reason.
5. Diana of Themyscira – Wonder Woman (2017)
Diana (a.k.a Wonder Woman) is a badass female character, and her Gal Gadot lead movie in 2017 blew away audiences. She’s clearly the most powerful person in any room she steps into, is more adept at swordplay than fashion, and overtly courageous. She’s also caring, stopping to gush over a baby, or tend to the physical or emotional hurts of her friends. She’s a bit naive, having never been outside the protective shell of her island. In truth, feminists would rather you forget about this entry in movie history. They had all sorts of problems with it, from Diana being too emotional over babies and love for a man, and the fact that Gadot was formerly of the Israeli Defense Force angered the antisemitic chunk of the feminist left. Still, Wonder Woman is a shining example of a woman lead in a sci-fi/action movie.
I could go on. There’s Selene of the Underworld Series and Alice of the various Resident Evil movies that are also there…whether we all like it or not. Then there’s 1995’s Tank Girl, 2005’s Aeon Flux, and 2017’s Ghost In the Shell.
The point is, they’re out there blazing like the sun, and yet they’re given no notice in the dense political fog covering Captain Marvel.
But Captain Marvel is breaking no glass ceilings. It’s not doing anything special. Carol Danvers won’t be a first, she’ll be another. Perhaps she’ll be a standout like Diana, but by the way Disney and the media are doing damage control for Captain Marvel, it doesn’t seem like it.