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What Captain Marvel means for female-driven stories

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Captain Marvel is the Marvel franchise’s first film with a female lead, and its protagonist not only proves that females can be heros too, but that they are also worth investing time and money in.

Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Captain Marvel opened in IMAX theatres last weekend with a $36.1 million global debut, becoming IMAX’s fifth biggest opening of all-time and the first non-sequel film to crack the top five. The film also represented IMAX’s best March opening and the second highest Marvel opening for IMAX globally. With this weekend’s results, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has now crossed $1 billion in IMAX box office.

 

Domestically, Captain Marvel grossed $14.1 million on 411 IMAX screens, marking IMAX’s second-biggest March opening.

 

If you find these numbers impressive, you wouldn’t be the only one. Not only was Captain Marvel met with great financial success, it was also met with an outpour of love and support from women all around the world.

 

 

 

Whilst the film has been commercially and critically successful, the message that it drives home about the female experience is perhaps the most important part of the story, and something that clearly resonates with viewers (based on the enormous amount of money made in its opening weekend alone.) This is incredibly important for two reasons: it tells us that female-driven films will make enough money to perhaps be taken seriously by production studios and film directors, and secondly (and perhaps the most importantly), female-driven storylines are what audiences want to see.

 

According to The New York Film Academy, as of 2017 women purchase half of the movie tickets sold within the United States. It’s also interesting to note that in that same year, the top three highest grossing films of the domestic box office in the United States were films that centred around a female lead (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman respectively.) Whilst this is also only taking American film sales in its calculations, it is also important to consider the implications this data has on worldwide box office records.

Image Credit: Marvel Studios

 

Yet what this tells us is that the old excuse of studios not making films about women because they “don’t sell” simply isn’t true. It is so important for audiences, particularly women and people of colour, to see role models or images reflecting themselves on screen. If films are not being made that reflect the diverse audiences that are viewing them, ultimately everyone will suffer. It’s time for the studios to start looking to bring more female stories to the big screen.

Through the film, Captain Marvel herself (aka Carol Danvers) is constantly belittled; pushed down both literally and figuratively. She is told she isn’t good enough, that she won’t ever have what it takes, and that she lets her emotions get the best of her. Any woman who has ever been told to “smile more” will want to throw their popcorn at the screens in solidarity with Carol’s struggle to be accepted for the competent, badass, AirForce Pilot that she is. There is even an instance in the film when her superior office tells her to ignore her intuition and brushes off her instincts as merely being overly emotional. This is something that is so inherently female it hurts, and something Brie Larson (aka Captain Marvel herself) has spoken about experiencing in her own life.

 

Image Credit: Marvel Studios

For all the females who wish they could fight back against those who have pushed them down, the climactic fight scene in Captain Marvel is particularly emotional to watch. Perhaps the most incredible experience, however, is leaving the theatre feeling enlightened and inspired, and realising that this is how young boys must feel every single time they’ve left a Marvel movie centring on a male lead.

 

You should support Captain Marvel not because it brands itself as a “feminist” film. Rather, you should support Captain Marvel because it reflects the images of very real women, who are not perfect all the time and often do not conform to conventional standards imposed on women in the workforce. This film teaches young girls the very same lesson that every other Marvel movie teaches young boys… anybody can be a hero. This hero just so happens to look like the 50% of the population that has been so drastically underrepresented in films until now.

 

Captain Marvel is out now.

Click here to check out The National Student's review of the film.

Lead image credit: Marvel Studios




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