On Friday, Disney released Captain Marvel, the 21st installment of Marvel Studios’ beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though Marvel movies have become regular box office champions for the last decade, their latest flick represented something of a gamble for both Marvel and Disney.
Why, you ask? Because the production companies behind the most popular movies in the world decided to launch one — just one — starring a woman. Even worse, this woman wore an entire outfit and didn’t have a man to swoon over. Captain Marvel represented something new, and that scared the crap out of a cabal of basement-dwelling katana fans intent on making sure that all heroes have a ding-a-ling.
Captain Marvel opened Thursday at midnight. By 8 a.m. the next morning, more than 58,000 dirtbags had left negative reviews of the film on RottenTomatoes in an attempt to drive down its audience score. If that doesn’t sound like a targeted assault to you, just consider that 58,000 votes represents more audience feedback than Avengers: Infinity War has received to date.
That’s not to say that Captain Marvel reinvented the comic book movie. That would be a lie; it’s a solid solo outing and a rollicking adventure anchored by a warm, funny, commanding performance from its lead. It’s not perfect, but it’s also undeserving of the hatred heaped upon it.
Fortunately, critics and audiences ignored the neckbeard army, streaming into the theaters and propelling Captain Marvel to a $153 million opening weekend, the highest opening weekend for a movie since last June’s Incredibles 2 and officially one of the top twenty film openings of all time. In a year that has seen little-to-no box office success, Captain Marvel’s stellar performance stands even taller.
The Brie Larsen film is more proof that movies can succeed even when they don’t revolve around a white dude. (Exactly how much ‘proof’ are studios looking for, by the way?) Captain Marvel also represents something of a dick punch to the faceless army that rails against otherwise phenomenal films just because they have something to say about female empowerment (see: Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the ill-fated Ghostbusters reboot).
On the other side of that coin, it’s frankly obnoxious that in 2019 there’s still a tidal wave of testosterone-y outrage at any movie that suggests women can kick ass without a man’s help (Want more proof? See: Wonder Woman and Ocean’s 8). All that said, the outrage over Captain Marvel’s release doesn’t seem like a big deal to the actors and filmmakers involved. Just check out Clark Gregg, Phil Coulson himself, casually brush aside flimsy sexist critiques:
“It’s easy for people to get, I don’t know if the expression is ‘butthurt’ about seeing someone else get a hero that looks like them, but that’s because they’ve always had heroes that look like them. There are people that get very bent out of shape about the fact that she’s a woman, and that Brie’s a woman, and wants to see women moving into an equal place in humanity to men. It’s sad. It must be sad to be that kind of dinosaur wandering toward the tar pits.”
Captain Marvel’s success is undoubtedly a win for a breed of film that’s long overdue for its time in the spotlight. And as irritating as those douchebags hating on the movie can be, it’s comforting to see that their very vocal frustration is getting less and less effective. Gregg is right when he compares these guys to dinosaurs. They’re doomed, and their comet can’t get here fast enough.