Before there was Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor the Norse god of thunder, there was Carol Danvers, an ex-airforce pilot whose DNA gets infused with an alien’s. As a consequence, Danvers develops superhuman strength, flight, and the ability to blast energy from her hands, paving the way for her to become the galactic superheroine known as Captain Marvel. Set in the 1990s long before the Avengers assemble, “Captain Marvel” explores Danvers’ origin story and the role she plays in a galactic war between two alien races.
After over 10 years of making movies in the MCU, “Captain Marvel” is the first female-led superhero movie to be produced by Marvel Studios. But before she even flew into theaters, the character was under fire as people took to the Internet to voice their negative opinions about the upcoming movie. Four students of BYU–Hawaii shared their thoughts on the latest Marvel superhero.
Adelaide Ellsworth, a freshman from California majoring in cultural anthropology, said she doesn’t understand why people are lashing out against Brie Larson, the actress who portrays Captain Marvel in the movie. “Brie Larson has done nothing wrong so it makes me so angry to see people saying, ‘oh, she’s a woman, what’s she doing in her own movie?’ I genuinely think it’s going to be a good movie… and I’m looking forward to see how it adds to the MCU as a whole.”
Ellsworth rolled her eyes as she talked about the trolling on the internet. “There’s no reason for it. There’s that whole thing about people being like, ‘why isn’t she smiling in the poster and the movies?’ But when you look at the male superheroes they’re not smiling or laughing in the posters either, so why should that make any difference?
“I just think movies are something you should see for fun but people are blowing it out of proportion. It’s ridiculous.”
Ellsworth said she’s excited to see how the movie connects with the events of “Avengers: Infinity War.” She continued, “I’m also excited to see the cat, Goose, and I’m looking forward to seeing old characters return like Agent Coulson and Nick Fury, and learning more about his backstory and how he started in S.H.I.E.L.D.
“[Captain Marvel] is going to give us a whole new look into the Avengers world that we haven’t had the chance to see before.”
Freshmen Katie Wood, an elementary education major from Utah, and her friend Lauren Schwalger, a business and peacebuilding major from Arizona, admitted they feel “meh” about the upcoming movie.
Schwalger said she thinks it’s cool but she feels like there’s a growing trend in female empowerment movies.
Wood agreed and said, “I’m getting kind of annoyed with them. I don’t know why. I’m a woman and I like woman power but there’s a lot of it.” She said it seems like it’s being overdone now. When she heard about the criticism the movie was getting online she laughed and said, “Well I probably wouldn’t do anything like that.”
Both girls admitted they don’t know much about Marvel but Schwalger said she’ll still give the movie a shot.
In an article written for USA Today. Bill Goodykoontz says reviews for “Captain Marvel” got so bad on Rotten Tomatoes the website removed its “Want to See” feature and disabled the comment function on films that haven’t premiered yet.
Rotten Tomatoes released a statement about the changes on their site that says, “Unfortunately, we have seen an uptick in non-constructive input, sometimes bordering on trolling, which we believe is a disservice to our general readership. We have decided that turning off this feature for now is the best course of action. Don’t worry though, fans will still get to have their say: Once a movie is released, audiences can leave a user rating and comments as they always have.”
Most of the controversy was sparked by a statement Larson made in an interview with Keah Brown for Marie Claire magazine. She said, “About a year ago, I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male… Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive. After speaking with you, the film critic Valerie Complex and a few other women of color, it sounded like across the board they weren’t getting the same opportunities as others.”
Instead of focusing on the fact Larson wished to promote inclusivity and diversity, her statement made headlines and was taken out of context, with an emphasis being placed on her comment about white males. Shortly after, negative reviews started flooding the Rotten Tomatoes website, Twitter, and other social media, accusing Larson of hating white men and ruining the MCU.
Larson later clarified, “What I'm looking for is to bring more seats up to the table. No one is getting their chair taken away. There's not less seats at the table, there's just more seats at the table."
In an article written for The Daily Beast, Melissa Leon writes, “A movie like ‘Captain Marvel,’ starring a pretty young woman who doesn’t care to make her opinions palatable to men, about a character more powerful than any in the MCU, was never going to sit well with the kind of superhero fan who’d tell a woman to smile more.”
Goodykoontz writes, “The most idiotic aspect of this is that the people complaining about ‘Captain Marvel’ haven’t seen the movie yet. That happens a lot – people often gripe about a story they didn’t read, an Oscars broadcast they didn’t watch, a team they can’t be bothered to check out. It’s not enough for them to be happy. They have to try to ruin the experience for everyone else. They’re self-styled experts, but in reality they’re just angry little people with an axe to grind. Good for Rotten Tomatoes for taking the handle out of their hands.”
Kourtney Cole, a sophomore from Colorado majoring in marine biology, looked shocked when she found out about the negativity on the internet. “It’s not even out yet and people are already upset? That’s kind of ridiculous… I think it’s disappointing people have these preconceived ideas already. What are you hating on? You haven’t even seen the movie yet.”
Cole said she doesn’t know much about the character but she thinks the previews look interesting. “I also think it’s interesting Captain Marvel is a female. It’s exciting. I think it’s a positive thing for kids to see.”
When asked if there was anything particular she was hoping to see in the movie, Cole said, “I think it’d be cool if her costume wasn’t all about her being a female, like if they don’t sexualize her. That shouldn’t be the only reason you’re interested in seeing the movie.” She said she’s also excited to see her powers. She added, “I don’t think women are better… we’re all cool, and each should play to their own strengths.”
Actor Samuel L. Jackson, who reprises his role as Nick Fury in the upcoming “Captain Marvel” film, responded to the negative reviews online in a statement to an Italian media outlet called BadTaste.
Jackson says, "The mere fact that you give a… platform to people who normally don't have a platform is part of the problem. You can have an opinion that you don't really have to be responsible for because nobody's going to see you, nobody's going to challenge you on it and if you want to bring somebody down or ruin somebody's day, you can say anything. Everybody doesn't want to be uplifting and that's pretty much what that problem is.”
Angela Watercutter writes about Rotten Tomatoes’ decision in an article for Wired. She says, “This, for fans, and presumably studios, is a long overdue reprieve. It's nearly impossible to tell which comments are from actual fans and which are from users just out for the lulz.”
Watercutter says many movies have been subjected to what she calls trollishly harsh reviews. “In some cases, the negative comments are earned, but in others, as was the case with ‘The Last Jedi’ and… the all-female ‘Ghostbusters,’ the poor ratings seem driven by racist and/or sexist motives from fans who don't appreciate diversity in their movies.”
In an article for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers praises the film for being retro and nostalgic and says it’s female friendship that keeps Captain Marvel in touch with her humanity. “Especially as she gains in strength and faces her responsibilities as [a] galactic guardian. And it’s in these scenes that the casting of Larson adds up.”
Travers describes Larson as an intuitive actress and says she brings layers of feeling to a role that a lesser actress might not have. “You see how she… lays the foundation for a character who defies male objectification and becomes akin to what Joni Mitchell called ‘a woman of heart and mind.’”
Like Travers’ article, not all the reviews posted online have been negative. As of March 7, “Captain Marvel” currently holds a rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer.” Many critics who got a first look at the movie have praised “Captain Marvel” on Rotten Tomatoes and Twitter.
Jim Vejvoda of IGN posts, “#CaptainMarvel was a lot of fun! Just enough ‘90s nostalgia without overdoing it. Brie Larson is great. Ditto Sam Jackson & Ben Mendelsohn. Goose the cat is purr-fect. Some nice surprises and clever decisions throughout. Cool sci-fi elements. And funny! Thumbs up!”
Den of Geek’s Kayti Burt tweets, “Some initial #CaptainMarvel reactions:
- Cat people will love this movie.
- Several truly magnificent music moments for this 90s kid.
- Carol’s hero moment was very cathartic/true to the female experience, imho.
- The MCU feels more complete now that Carol is in it.”
Entertainment Tonight’s Ash Crossan says, “#CaptainMarvel is… TOTALLY AWESOME. Never related to a Marvel character quite like Carol. She’s the stubborn witty 90s kid I like to think I am.”
“Captain Marvel” premiered in theaters March 7.
Writer: Emi Wainwright