Female representation in comic book films is a notion that has, now more than ever, come to light as something that the industry needs to improve on greatly. From the moment Richard Donner’s Superman graced the silver screen in 1978, female-led superhero films were essentially close to non-existent, save for a few incredibly terrible features and one terrific one. You can probably guess which films I am referring to here. In any case, with the increased longing from fans for more equal representation in the popular genre, both Marvel and DC began introducing female heroes into their respective cinematic universes. For Marvel, their franchise kicked off in 2008 and since then the film series now includes heroes such as Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch. Over at DC, while their films are more divisive than any, the company can boast the fact that it carries one of the most diverse actor rosters ever put to film, including several already established female characters like Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, and of course, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman, released in 2017, is the hero’s first solo film outing and it did not disappoint. Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman had incredible action, wonderful performances, and gave young women and girls a person they can look up to. No longer were films just about Batman and Superman. It was time for something and someone new. Wonder Woman was praised for its dedication to inspiring women everywhere and DC quickly ordered a sequel, due out in November 2019. For Marvel, their first female-led film will come later in the form of Captain Marvel, with Brie Larson portraying the titular role. The film is currently in production and has reportedly been referred to by insiders as “game changing,” even more-so than Avengers: Infinity War. Despite Marvel taking its sweet time when it comes to putting women at the forefront of their films, it is amazing to see yet another powerful and strong female character on the big screen. However, the purpose of this editorial is not to praise both studios. Rather, it is instead a message to everyone online. It is time to end the Wonder Woman vs. Captain Marvel film debate.
I don’t know if this disclaimer is necessary but I will put it anyway. As a guy, I will never know what it is like to not be represented in a superhero film. Bluntly, as a white guy with a beard, it is even more staggering to see the amount of heroes that look like me. I will never truly know what under-representation feels like. What I do know however is that it is an unreal feeling to be able to identify with a superhero. For me, that hero is Wolverine. But for my little sister, who only recently got into the superhero film craze, it was Scarlet Witch and Wonder Woman. When she saw both those characters on screen kicking ass, it was as if she was empowered. Cheering whenever they dropped into the battlefield, it is moments like those that the comic book movie genre should strive to achieve. And now, with Captain Marvel debuting in less than a year, it would seem that another cinematic achievement is upon us. So I ask, why do people continuously compare the two as if it is a battle for film supremacy?
Marvel has earned its fair share of criticism for only now producing a female-led superhero film. Yes, I know that Ant-Man and the Wasp has Evangeline Lily’s character in the title but that does not change the fact that her male partner shares in the title. Captain Marvel is a film about Carol Danvers and Carol Danvers alone. It is an opportunity for Kevin Feige and co. to really hammer home the idea that, like DC, Marvel is dedicated to an inclusive and empowering environment for people everywhere. The film will provide yet another powerful role model that young women everywhere can look up to, and not only a superhero, but Carol Danvers herself, who is an officer in the United States Air Force. She is, in her own right, someone everyone should strive to be but that is where the Wonder Woman comparisons should end. Both, in their own ways, are heroes to thousands and thousands of people everywhere; it does not make sense to constantly pin them against each other.
Truth be told, I was inspired to write this piece when I saw a recent video from Collider. This is not a knock on their site as a whole but they recently published a video titled: Will Captain Marvel Top Wonder Woman at the Box Office? Now, this in itself did not formulate my entire need to write this, but it was a large contributing factor. When pieces like this are published, it stirs a competition, which is nothing both Marvel and DC have not experienced before, but this is different. It is like we cannot simply enjoy both films for what they are, or will be. The fact that Wonder Woman made $800+ million at the global box office is phenomenal and whether Captain Marvel makes more than that, from a competition perspective, is irrelevant.
Frankly, the sole reason why film fans should celebrate the possibility of Captain Marvel earning more is because that would mean they are becoming more inclined to watch a female-led superhero film, meaning more films like their predecessors would make their way into development. The Marvel vs. DC fandom war is honestly stupid in itself because every time a Marvel or DC film is released, there will always be that select number of fans who say “WELL, THAT’S IT, CANCEL THE OTHER COMPANY’S SHARED UNIVERSE!” Fans should want every superhero film to make money, especially ones with women as the movie’s center. Representation is not a competition; it is something that DC, and now Marvel, are striving for in an effort to give film fans more diverse and entertaining films.
Both Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman are very different characters, but their films represent the same message. It is time to stop pitting them against each other. Captain Marvel should experience the same level of hype of anticipation Wonder Woman did because it is the next big superhero film led by a woman. The industry needs more well-written, female-led superhero films and because of a film like Wonder Woman, Marvel and frankly the rest of Hollywood took notice. Aside from Captain Marvel, DC has commissioned Ava DuVernay to direct The New Gods, based on the legendary comic series by Jack Kirby of the same name as well as a Birds of Prey film starring Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and directed by Cathy Yen. For Marvel, Kevin Feige has already spoken about how phase four of the MCU will focus heavily on female heroes, starting with a film all Marvel fans have longed for, a Black Widow solo film. Wonder Woman was the stepping stone for all of this and now, Captain Marvel will continue on as the next big outing for a female hero. There is more than enough room for both heroes and no one should trash one hero because of their love for another. That notion should especially carry over once Captain Marvel debuts. Celebrate the fact that diversity in filmmaking is constantly improving, even though it should be miles ahead of its current status. For now, no more slander should be conducted on either film. As the Old El Paso commercial goes: “why can’t we have both?” *Cue celebration.*