We Need to Learn How to Be Constructively ‘Meh’ About Female-Led Movies
"That's just, like, your opinion."
Captain Marvel is creating a lot of what I guess you could consider conversation, but it’s really just one side yelling into the void and the other side just being like … “Wtf are they so loud?” For me, my feelings about Captain Marvel are “this could be fun” and a slight shoulder shrug.
I was mostly going to keep quiet about my general “meh” about it, because with all the anti-Brie Larson sentiment, I honestly didn’t feel it was necessary to join in, but reading the highly negative reviews (mostly written by men), I just feel like sometimes we forget that we are allowed to think something is “meh” without labeling it as bad.
For a long time, I have stayed silent about this, but I’m going to take this moment to confess something that I mentioned on a recent episode of our podcast: I don’t care for Wonder Woman. I went to go see it with three of my friends, and after, we were all trying to figure out what we liked and struggling, because while there were moments, it just didn’t hit the way we had expected it to.
As a superheroine, she’s never been my favorite, and I find most adaptations of her struggle with allowing her to be an empowered feminist character while also attempting to make men feel comfortable with her. It’s one of the few downsides with the 2009 animated movie, and the Patty Jenkins film just reminded me so much of the Brian Azzarello run in the comics, which I do not care for.
Reading the responses about Wonder Woman from a huge amount of women, regardless of race, sexuality, etc., I saw a lot of people talking about loving it and crying over it, and I wanted to feel that way when I watched it for the first time, but I just felt kind of bored and frustrated most of the time. I felt frustrated that Zeus became the creator god, and that the Amazons got retconned to be created to save men from Ares.
I was frustrated that there were basically no women in the movie with real roles once they leave Themyscira. I was frustrated that, despite being canonically bisexual and there being queer amazons, none of that was in the film. I was frustrated that Steve Trevor had such an active role in the movie when most love interests are lucky to even be a plot device in the third act.
However, more than anything, other than acknowledging that we were long deserving of a Wonder Woman movie on this level, nothing about it felt new. As someone who watched Sailor Moon, Xena, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Lost Girl, Madoka, and others, there is little new or exciting about Wonder Woman other than it exists in a space that was once uncultivated to its full potential.
That doesn’t mean that Wonder Woman wasn’t a good movie or a movie with value; it just didn’t do it for me. I wanted more, and I’m glad that now, with Captain Marvel, female audiences are asking for more, as well.
One review I saw, from Hannah Woodhead at Little White Lies talks about how “Captain Marvel only gently dips into what could have been a more engaging look at female rage and how emotion is currency, possibly afraid of alienating male viewers if its too overtly feminist (that ship has already sailed)” and that “Even sexism within the US military receives only a cursory nod. It feels less visionary and divergent next to Black Panther, which stood so firm in its convictions.”
We don’t have to be grateful for just being included. Does that mean I don’t understand why other women feel strongly about Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel? No. I get it, but as someone who exists on the intersection of race and gender, I also see how that discussion about gender and representation for all women skipped over the women of Black Panther and is being carried by Captain Marvel. I know that conversation centered around Black women, but why are we all expected to see “female” empowerment in white women and not in women of color?
At this point, my major issue with Captain Marvel in terms of representation is that we don’t need more white, straight, cis, able-bodied female superheroes leading the charge, period.
I haven’t seen Captain Marvel yet, and I’m going to give it the same fair shake I did the Thor movies (before 3) and Wonder Woman. It’s fine to not like every single female-led product out there and to hold it to a standard, especially a personal one, but sometimes we too quickly put these movies on unreasonable pedestals of perfection that are unreachable.
There are those of us who do this due to a genuine desire to see better, and those who do it in order for nothing to ever be good enough.
Which are you?
(image: Warner Bros/Marvel)
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