A Marvelous Step Forward

A Marvelous Step Forward

Abbie Wallace, Senior Staff Writer

The latest superhero film opens the path to gender equality.


Make way for Marvel— Captain Marvel, that is. The superhero has flown into theaters just in time for Women’s History Month. It’s probably no coincidence the movie debuted this month with the lead being one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Captain Marvel, portrayed by Brie Larson, has abilities out-of-this-world (literally), and her movie is a great addition not only to the storyline of the Marvel Cinematic
Universe, but also to women’s history.

For some, the arrival of Captain Marvel is just another addition to the large collection of Marvel Studios’ movies, but this addition holds greater significance. As of now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has 23 films, two of which are to be released later this year. Captain Marvel is only the second movie out of the 23 to have a female lead in the title, with Ant-Man and the Wasp being the first. However, Captain Marvel is the first female superhero to get a solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

After the immense success of DC’s Wonder Woman in 2017, there’s no doubt Marvel Studios would want to experience the same, and Captain Marvel may be just as successful and possibly more. With the success of female-led superhero films, it’s easy to wonder why they didn’t come sooner. However, the release of “Captain Marvel” now is “fitting for this era,” according to Maya Clark, president of Grossmont College’s American Association of University Women.

“We’re having the #MeToo movement and women’s rights are on the forefront,” Clark explained.
As our society moves to push gender equality and support women’s rights, the release of Captain Marvel can be considered as a stepping stone on the path to gender equality in the entertainment business.

Regarding the timing of the film release, Grossmont student, Alexcia Dore said, “With everything that is going on in the country right now, I think it is important.”

Although, it certainly wouldn’t have hurt to have a superhero movie with a powerful female lead prior to now, but as Clark said, “It’s better to happen now then to never happen.” Timeliness aside, Captain Marvel is a staple regarding the portrayal of women in superhero films and comics. A common trend among female characters is the sexualization of their bodies and their limited roles. Captain Marvel veers from the common perception and we see
her in an incredibly practical outfit, and the only emphasis placed on her is in regards to her impressive superpowers, she is one of the most powerful superheroes after all.

“She’s not there to show off her body; she’s there to save the world,” said Clark, in response to the practicality of Captain Marvel’s superhero outfit. “It says a lot about pop culture changing for the better,” Clark
continued. “They don’t have to portray women that way to sell.”

Perhaps our society has reached a point where women don’t have to be exploited in order for a product to be sold. While it is unfortunate, the exploitation and sexualization of women may not disappear anytime soon. The arrival of Captain Marvel supports the notion of gender equality and women being seen as more than just objects.

Captain Marvel is considered a milestone movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, primarily due to its female lead. It does bring up the discussion of whether one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first female-led movies should be celebrated or normalized by audiences.

“I feel like it could go both ways because it does need to have more attention, but I also feel like it should be normalized,” Dore said.

Whether the movie should be celebrated or normalized can be determined by where society is regarding gender equality. “We should applaud them for doing what’s progressive and fitting for the times,” Clark said, “but not commemorating would send the best message.”

Although there are other prominent female superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel is one of the first to have a solo movie, and possibly just what we need for more female-led films to
be made and balance the scales. While Captain Marvel is a powerful superhero and great role model for women, it’s important to remember you don’t have to be a superhero to be a powerful woman.