The curious case of Captain Marvel seems like an appropriate title for this article. The reactions to the Captain Marvel Movie before the movie release is indeed a curious case.
To have reactions on the film before it’s public release is not uncommon. Usually, a group of selected individuals (“reviewers”) are invited to a pre-screening of the film by the films’ production house.
Based on their reactions filmmakers decide what to improve. I’m not sure if that’s always a good idea for science fiction movies because the selected are not always people who would usually see those kind of movies. Production houses take these reactions at heart in fear that the film will not earn as expected at the box office. Their suggested changes most of times is not in line with the story of the film or not in line with the vision of the director.
The reactions for Captain Marvel were on another level. They were criticizing the character as a bad choice for the first Marvel female lead film with the argument that the character is not the most popular female hero in the Marvel Universe but that same argument was used against “The Guardian of the Galaxy”, and look how good the end product was.
It also didn’t help that the actress, Brie Larson, who plays Captain Marvel, shared her opinions on certain topics that were taken at heart, in some cases even misinterpreted ( want to believe). This was used then as the main reason for disliking the movie. One could argue that the actress was exercising free speech. Her opinions are her own. Why do people use their dislike of one person against an entire film?
The success or failure impacts not only producers, directors, and the actors’ pockets but more importantly the crew, from the cameraman to the hairdresser. If the film doesn’t do well, because of ill-mouths rather than honest reviews based on the quality of the film, this group will be the most affected.
Feminism or Politics?
On the surface, most of the discontent was about the comments of the actress related to giving minorities an equal chance in the movie-review field in order to have a diverse background and ensure that the adequate group demographic reviews the film on the first round. Also, the theme of feminism based on the fact that this is the second female hero blockbuster of this decade, after Wonder Woman, made some people uncomfortable.
For years the stories of male-heroes brought to the big screen were successful. On the other hand, the heroines’ stories weren’t’ always taken as seriously. Even female villains weren’t. Take Cat Woman for example. Her story is very interesting but what they brought on screen in 2004 is just not the right choice. Cat Woman is sexy but that isn’t her only strength. They over-sexualized her, making her a joke. Just compare this Cat Woman with the Michelle Phipher (1992) interpretation which shows how she survives and became strong.
For many years it seems as if investing in female heroes was a waste of money. At least that was the perception of producers. It’s strange how the majority of moviegoers is female yet movie makers didn’t see the market in front of their eyes. That seems to be the case before the successful release of Wonder Woman. That success opened the door for more women-centric stories on the big screen. The success of the film seems very easy to explain. There was minimal studio intervention and the most important reason is that the audience connected with the story. It’s not that difficult, moviegoers connect with stories of people that look like them and go through the same struggles.
For most women, it has always been difficult to relate to strong women on screen. For many years the portrayal of strong women has been of women who know physical combat, lack femininity, and hate men. This is a wrong portrayal of women and feminism in general.
Strong women are strong not because they know karate or kickboxing but because they have confronted many adversities in their lives and still manage to continue living. Many women are managing more than two jobs to support their children, at the same time they manage their own house and take care of their families. These are strong women. There are women who manage through life and like their femininity. They like their dresses, shoes, and make-up. They are not less strong than those women who don’t.
There are women who’ve had bad experiences with men and use those experiences to develop a thick skin and become stronger but there are some who those don’t let those experiences to define their life and try very hard to leave those negative feelings behind. Those who are not able to base their actions on hate, and negative feelings that impact not only their lives but the lives of their friends and family as well. Not all women are men-haters.
Being a feminist is not about hating men even though there are “groups” that are incorrectly promoting it as such. All women want is being treated equally to men in the work filed. Women working on the same job and with the same skills as men should earn the same. Note that both elements are equally important. A woman working on the same job as her counterpart but is not skilled to perform a good job should not earn the same. But she should get the opportunity to work to get there. Work should be valued on performance.
We know that Marvel doesn’t shy away from social issues, and after seeing the movie I was not surprised how Marvel brought up the topic of immigration, and occupation of land, and I finally understood one of the reasons behind the opposition for the movie before its release. It may have gone unseen to many between all the drama. But to be fair there are valid critiques of this movie. For me, it was an ok movie, not a “Wonder Woman good” level movie. So the reactions after release are understandable for the most part. Even so, it still looks strange that there was so much pushback on an unseen science fiction film.
Reflection of Reality
In this section, I will discuss a few elements of the movie that got my attention, so there will be some spoilers! If you haven’t watched to movie, stop reading and come back later. You have been warned!
Here it goes….
The Kree are a powerful race and are fighting against a fraction of the Skrulls. The Kree don’t seem to attack Skrull civilians directly, only the fraction that is hostile, and practically considered terrorists. This representation is too current. I immediately thought about the current situation between Israel and Palestine.
The Skrulls were displaced from their homeland by the Kree, and are practically at war with the Kree because of this. Another curious note is that the Skrulls are known as the villains in the comics. Marvel chose to change them into the good guys in the Movie universe. It is actually very interesting. Changing their roles helps you understand their story from another perspective because there is still a chance for them to become the villains. Villains usually come from two backgrounds: they are groomed to become villains or they face with circumstances that change the way they see life, like for example lack of attention and understanding. Sometimes one small act to a kid can leave a permanent impact that will stay until adulthood.
The Skrulls have been portrayed as terrorist by the Kree when they are victims of power-play wherein the weakest race lost. Instead of being empowered by the strongest group, they were oppressed instead. The power inequality between the Kree and the Skrulls is the main source of the conflict. Unlike the real world, there are no organizations to defend the rights of the Skrulls. They had no rights because they were weak. But even in the real world, those organizations seem to be there just to be there. They have no actual power to directly challenge countries that violate international laws, human rights, etc.
The human rights violations of the Rohingyas, Palestinians, and many other minority groups continue. International standards and regulations are important to fight the abuse of power. Human rights organizations are equally important and should have the ability to call out countries that violate human rights. As it is now, it seems that the country with the bigger guns is dictating and policing the world through influence/corruption, sanctions, and intervention. Any regime structure that is different from theirs in countries of interest must be changed. And they successfully did it with most of them making sure with the help of their allies to be portrayed as the saviors.
It is an unhealthy power struggle that only brings suffering to the world population and it doesn’t’ look like it would change any time soon. Human rights violations in countries that are their allies have been overlooked in comparison to their adversaries. When it comes to their adversaries, they make sure to have the message broadcasted to cause a global outcry. Why the double standard? It is astounding to see people so upset with one country but not upset with others that have been doing the same thing for even a longer period of time.
Just a Money Making Machine
Another explanation on why the backlash for Captain Marvel became so big is that many, especially YouTubers, saw the great opportunity to gain more money. It is very simple; Marvel has a worldwide recognized brand and a huge fan following for its movie universe. We, the fans became the target of clickbait. There were channels who created many videos criticizing the movie they haven’t watched, predicting stuff with no substance to back it up. It’s just crazy. They overshadow those creators that have a rational evaluation of the trailer and based on additional research offer their opinions of what could be expected.
Some videos are indeed foolish like a rant on why not to support the movie but will still watch it. Newsflash! By watching the movie at the theatre, you are financially supporting it. It’s just a waste of time to see this kind of video. First of all, you need to see the movie in order to criticize it, support it, or not. Unless you have some insider information (from producers, directors, or crew) that may influence your decision, seeing the movie is your evidence and gives you the right to comment on it since you pay for your ticket.
It used to be that you have a group of movie lovers coming together to talk about the best movies, and also criticize them with valid arguments. I love watching these videos because it helps you see views on the same film from different perspectives. Now everyone is commenting just for commenting, giving an opinion, and judging without proper evidence basically not really caring about the movies, only interested in the Benjamins.
The same happens with the news, it’s not about investigative reporting anymore. It’s all about drama, which is the perfect content for clickbait. I believe reality shows have a strong influence on this change as well. Everything on TV became about “making money” leaving integrity, and good reporting out of the room. It is sad to see well-known news organizations based their reports on questionable sources which should have been looked into but remember we don’t do that anymore. This is what turns me off from cable news to YouTube, I’m not interested in a tone sided report, I want all the facts. But now even YouTube content creators are falling for it as well. It is just sad to see what people do for clicks and followers.
Criticizing the dialogue, and women issues show in the trailer wouldn’t resonate with women today. But guess what? The movie is not set in 2019, it takes place in the 90s where this actually happened. Certain jobs were not considered adequate for women. When all this is said there isn’t even the effort made to look for information about the movie because I am pretty sure it was mentioned that is, was set in the 90s. But again who cares about doing proper research right? It’s all about the Greens!
Provide Opportunity and Amplify Diversity
Most of the videos at the time on Captain Marvel were based on Brie Larson and her opinions which she had the right to express. Most viewers in the US, which is where the film is being made, and where they most probably will view it first, are white men, and they review all movies. Her point was that there should be some diversity in reviewing movies of specific demographics like black lead movies, female lead movies, and children’s movies (at least I hope it was). She had the right to express her opinion. She may not be completely right because there have been some exceptions of well-reviewed films but it is still valid to ask for a more diverse group of reviewers (like independent reviewers not influenced by production companies). The review process should be fair and consistent. At this moment it is not.
Imagine it from a political viewpoint. You have a bill on the sexual harassment of women at work, that has to be reviewed by Congress, which has a majority of old men. Do you really think they are going to fight for female rights and pass the bill? Now imagine when you have a female lead film, and all your reviewers are all men. Had she formulated her opinion better I’m not sure if it would have been as much controversy. She also didn’t help her case with follow up comments.
Is it Greed or Just Survival?
In this climate of false reporting, and fake news created for clickbait some people are waking up, and becoming more critical and they give me hope that there are still those who love their craft and want to do their best. It’s like rap, you have those rappers who know the history, respect the craft, and create great songs. On the other hand, you also have those who simply want an easy way to earn money without really caring about improvement and learning from their seniors. And people see through it. There are those, who are simply doing it for money, they don’t really care to look for facts, they just want your money and they even blatantly say it.
Believe it or not, there is a logical explanation for some of this behavior. Youtube has made it more difficult for creators to earn money. For creators to make money from YouTube and have ads attached to videos, they must have over 4,000 hours of watch time on their channel which would explain the dozen of videos of Captain Marvel even before its release since the Marvel Cinematic Universe is globally known and has millions of fans. It seems logical they chose this strategy to earn more money. The creators’ channels must also have at least 1,000 subscribers. Channels that don’t have these numbers won’t be able to earn from ads. This change will effectively make it harder for new, smaller channels and hobbyists to be able to make money on YouTube. But does this justify a complete disregard of morals and ethics?
You will find YouTubers who don’t care about their image, or ethics and will try to do everything they can to get your attention and money by following the herd mentality. Especially because “outrage” online gets more attention, they will go with the targets of the season. It is easy to go after those everyone go after. You don’t have to do much research because you can easily copy the opinions of others and make it your own. This will not age well. It’s not that hard to do some research to provide the positives and the negatives of something.
You also have those obsessed with “celebrities” that will make 50% of their content about that one celebrity when they are supposed to focus on a specific industry like video games or the whole Hollywood movie industry. If you like to talk about celebrities or any other topics just be honest about it when branding your content. In the end, most people have an open platform to express their opinions on Youtube until they change it to something else.
Lastly, you will also find those creators who love their craft and are making great efforts to create better content every day. You see it in the design, graphics, music, research, presentation, and editing of the videos. Some of the production quality is very impressive, even better than the mainstream channels. In the end, people will appreciate the work of those who offer interesting content, like honest discussions, offering a clear differentiation between opinions based on facts and/or opinions based on gossip/unverified information, presenting researched topics, etc. This is the type of content that will gain value over time.