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Men Clearly Fear Women Leading Nerd Films, and … Good

Fear us.

Brie Larson as Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel.

Do you ever see people getting angry about something and question why it’s happening? Recently, that has been my experience with all the Captain Marvel “discourse.” I don’t really see it as discourse, but rather men complaining about women getting their time in nerd culture. Looking back through history, it can be seen with Princess Leia, the female Ghostbusters, Wonder Woman, and more powerful women in cinema.

Starting with Leia, too many don’t see her as a hero on the same level as her male costars in Star Wars, when both Luke Skywalker and Han Solo would have been dead had she not saved them from Vader’s grasp. The argument here is that she had to be “rescued” in the first place, but if you look at the scene in which Leia utters the iconic “you’re pretty short for a stormtrooper,” she’s casually sitting in her cell without a care in the world. This is also after she just watched her entire planet die. If anything, Leia is a badass right from the start and even goes on to be the one to free Han Solo from carbonite and Jabba the Hutt’s clutches.

So … why are men so angry that Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens focused on Rey as the Luke Skywalker-like figure? Because these men didn’t like the idea of a woman being the hero in what they saw as their male-dominated story, and it isn’t the only time this happens.

Wonder Woman was met with men screaming about how she’d never be stronger than male superheroes (when it’s canon that Diana Prince is stronger than Superman), and when we, as women, dared to have a women-only screening of the film, they wanted to crash it because men were being left out.

And now, we have Captain Marvel. For the first time in ten years, we’re getting a superhero film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe led by a woman, and that means that Twitter is a minefield of men calling Brie Larson “Loudmouth Larson” and claiming that her devotion to equality in the press for the film and the future of her character is what is going to tank the movie (even though it is currently on track to be a box office success).

So what does all this “history” mean? It means that there is a subdivision of male fans who don’t want to see women in their “nerd” space in their own right. They don’t want female Ghostbusters or their heroes to have tactical gear when fighting (if their boobs aren’t showing, these men are angry!) because it means that they have to look at their own skewed views of these characters critically.

There’s also the argument that Carol Danvers seems “unemotional” in her trailer, and there’s a couple of problems with that sentiment.

1. So women are usually told we’re too emotional, and now she’s not emotional enough?

2. It’s Carol Danvers’ first movie. When you look back at Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers is slightly one-dimensional in the sense that he’s just a boy who will do what he thinks is right. As his movies progress, he grows, because that’s what a good character arc looks like. Judging Carol Danvers based on one movie is like looking at a tadpole and being like, “DOESN’T LOOK LIKE A FROG!”

Not only that, but when will men understand that women are not here for their judgment? Women don’t need to win their approval to lead movies. They do not get to tell us which women have value and which don’t. That’s the very heart of misogyny.

So, in the interest of equality in our superhero and nerd spaces, what if we just let female-led movies and television shows exist without this constant backlash? It’s exhausting.

(image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.