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For the Last Time, Let’s Not Pit Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman Against Each Other

Similarities in one line do not a rip off make.

Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel strike heroic poses in their respective posters.

Apparently, two women led superhero films cannot exist in the same realm without comparison. Since the first trailer dropped, people have been comparing Marvel’s Captain Marvel with DC’s Wonder Woman. In a genre built on the staple of the origin movie, where usually a man discovers he has superpowers and learns how to use them and saves the day, two women following the same path is apparently too much of the same thing.

First, it was writers saying “step aside, Wonder Woman,” which was nonsense because no one said “step aside, Iron Man,” when a new male hero was introduced in either franchise. People immediately began tweeting that Carol and Diana would be friends (or better yet, girlfriends), because hey, female solidarity can be a thing in the superhero genre, even if the franchises are only just now giving us female leads and female friendships.

Now, some DC fans are accusing Captain Marvel of ripping off Wonder Woman for a key moment in one of the latest trailers. In Wonder Woman, Diana replies to Steve saying he won’t let her do something with “what I do is not up to you.” In a new Captain Marvel teaser, Carol tells someone off-camera that “I’m kind of done with you telling me what I can’t do.” Some DC fans now are taking this as a sign that Marvel ripped off Wonder Woman. I mean, Captain Marvel was in development had had directors and screenwriters by the time Wonder Woman came out, but clearly there can be only one.

Similarly, some trolls are now saying that Captain Marvel will flop at the box office due to star Brie Larson’s comments about inclusion, and Wonder Woman succeeded by not upsetting men and will do more for women overall. It’s worth noting that Larson has simply championed the inclusion of more diverse journalists and has been, as she has always been, an outspoken feminist. She has not said that cishet, able-bodied, white men are not allowed to see her movie, but just pushed for more diversity behind the scenes and in journalism as part of her advocacy.

It’s worth noting that Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot flat out said “People always ask me, ‘Are you a feminist?’ And I find the question surprising, because I think, ‘Yes, of course. Every woman, every man, everyone should be a feminist. Because whoever is not a feminist is a sexist.'” The film also drew backlash for female-only screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse, with trolls screaming that it was bigotry for such screenings to be held in the first place.

Let’s address the copying claims first: there is no copyright on the idea that a woman is sick and tired of being told what to do. A female character who experiences sexism from male characters is sadly a reflection of the fact that women in real life deal with sexism on a daily basis. Both Diana and Carol taking a stand and saying that they’re done with being told what to do isn’t a moment of ripping off, it’s a moment in which two women are dealing with two different forms of sexism.

Carol’s line comes after a montage of her being told what she can’t do by men in her life, ranging from “this isn’t a game for little girls” to “you won’t last a week.” Carol gets back up, dusts herself off, and delivers what is sure to be a powerful line in the film. On the flip side, Diana is dealing with Steve, who is supportive but who still keeps trying to tell her what to do in certain situations. They aren’t rip offs of each other, but rather two women having a familiar response to two different kinds of behavior.

Saying that Wonder Woman will do more for women, or that it is better because the star did not ask for more inclusion on the press tour, is not a good look. The two films present two different kinds of origin stories with two different characters. Some women will love Wonder Woman more, others will be drawn to Captain Marvel, some might love both, and others might not be fond of either! But the important thing is that they exist.

The more female-led stories we get, the better. Pitting the films against each other for perceived rip-offs and because the idea of a woman-led film threatens you isn’t good behavior. Captain Marvel is likely to make a killing at the box office, and we’ll get more films from both Larson’s Carol and more superhero films fronted by women as well. If you want to critique something, critique how we deserve more films featuring women who aren’t white, or aren’t straight or cis, or aren’t able-bodied. If you’re just mad a woman is getting screen time, you’re probably sexist.

(image: Warner Bros/Marvel)

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Kate (she/her) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions she has. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, she is now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for her favorite rare pairs.