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An Open Letter to Marvel Studios on Women in the MCU

*Please note that this article is an opinioneditorial.

Marvel’s new blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, is absolutely the summer hit of 2014.  If it seems as though I’m giving away too much praise too quickly, just hold on.  I have a scathing, deprecating message for Marvel Studios later on, so for now, let me take a minute simply to congratulate them on what they’ve managed to get correct.  Guardians succeeds exactly as it is supposed to.  The action/comedy scored big marks in terms of being action packed, with likeable characters, a well-thought-out story, and comedic one-liners.  A fantastic space epic, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Firefly, in which the characters don’t take themselves too seriously is a refreshing and much-needed breath of air after all of the ‘dark, noir’ comic movie adaptations we’ve seen in recent years.  Now, I will grant you that the entirety of my knowledge when it comes to the Guardians comics is just Wikipedia articles and nerd-osmosis, but I still sensed that the writers stayed close to the source material, or at least as close as we nerd fans demand from our comic book movies.  Indeed, the style – both visually and in terms of the writing – is so well done, I’ve almost forgotten why I’m upset with Marvel. 

But, I haven’t.

And, I still am upset with Marvel.  Which brings us to the aforementioned deprecating message I have for them.

In a day and age when people will pay good money to see a film starring a talking raccoon and an anthropomorphic tree (Sorry, Mr. Pratt.  If you weren’t aware that you’re co-starring next to a creature which routinely carries a variety of worms, you are now.), the fact that Marvel hasn’t pulled the trigger on a certain other franchise makes me so honest-to-God furious that I’m unable to contain my rage.  Therefore, I ask you, every single one of you who works for Marvel, regardless of whether you are a producer or a janitor, I ask you:
Why is there no Ms. Marvel movie?

For me, the lack of women in the Marvel Universe (A lack of minorities period, but I’ll save that for now.) is relatively explainable.  The history of white males, writing comics about white males, to sell to an audience of white males means that, in many cases, staying true to the source material (something very important for the audience these movies are made for) is at least understandable.  Despite my earnest feelings that a relaunch of Spider-Man movies would have been better served by starring one Miles Morales instead of a tired rehashing of Peter Parker’s origin story, I can no longer stay silent as Marvel allows one of their best characters to stay in the shadows, longing for the light of her own big-budget hit.

I’ve heard from a variety of sources that Marvel is scared to pull the trigger on a superhero movie starring a woman (the horror!), as they don’t believe audiences will be receptive to it.  Guess what?  You just pulled in millions from a movie about a raccoon and a tree.  I’m no longer buying your bulls—.  So, let me say, here and now, that as a white, mid-twenties male living in California, I want a superhero movie starring a woman.

No.  I don’t want a Black Widow movie.  You know why?  Because she isn’t all that interesting.  I’m sorry, but she’s a spy.  She literally has no powers.  I’ve seen a lot of spy movies, and it isn’t that they aren’t great, but in this particular case, it’s entirely unnecessary.  You know, I feel like we already have something from Marvel in which a bunch of characters without powers are tossed around the Marvel Universe.  What’s that called?  Oh, yeah.  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  No.  I want Carol Danvers.  I want Ms. Marvel.

When DC eventually gets moving with their own line of films (and believe me, it’s coming like a freight train), they will eventually take the plunge Marvel has yet to and create a series of movies featuring a woman as the star.  For DC, of course, these movies will be about Wonder Woman.  Sadly, I foresee two possibilities for Marvel, if DC beats them to the box office with a movie about a superheroine:

1)  Wonder Woman does really well.  Marvel realizes they were fools for not making a Ms. Marvel movie, and then discards the character for being too similar to Wonder Woman; or

2)  Wonder Woman does NOT do well, and Marvel takes it as a sign that audiences are still not interested in female superheroes.

Both of these lines of reasoning are faulty, for SO many reasons.  All I want people to know is that it is time – scratch that – it is past time to see a woman take center stage and save the Earth from certain doom.  I can understand the hesitancy over doing something the studios see as risky, but for Marvel not to take the risk on a Ms. Marvel movie (or any female-led superhero movie) means that instead of looking forward, the studio execs are stuck in the past.  No, the Catwoman movie did not do well, but, frankly, it was for a laundry list of reasons that had nothing to do with the central character being female.  My advice to Marvel is not to overthink it and not to make a ‘girly’ movie, but simply a good movie wherein the star is a woman.

Ms. Marvel is one of the biggest guns in the Marvel Universe, and having a woman who can go ten rounds with Thor sounds like exactly the kind of movie I want to see.  Carol Danvers is a Major in the USAF, a brilliant woman, a strategic genius, and one of my favorite Avengers.  Like Tony Stark, in her long history in the comics, she has struggled with alcoholism, isolated herself from her friends, and suffered from depression, yet no matter what, in times of crisis, Carol has always stepped up to save the day.

Wow.  Almost sounds like this woman is a well-thought-out and complex person.  How weird is that?

Frankly, the idea that audiences aren’t ready for a female superhero to star in her own movie is incredibly insulting.  Not just to women, but to men.  Men like myself.  Men who think the idea of a woman who is indestructible and flies around shooting energy pulses out of her fingertips while saving the world sounds like one of the best movies ever.  I want to see Ms. Marvel take the big-screen.  I want to see her take a punch from the Hulk, then smile just before she uppercuts him into low-Earth orbit.  I want to see Hydra run screaming as she flies overhead.  I want to see AIM, dumbfounded as she flattens their ‘impenetrable’ military complex.  Call her Captain Marvel.  Call her Binary.  Call her Warbird – I don’t care.

In conclusion, I suppose what I really want to say is that every year that goes by without seeing Ms. Marvel at least on the damn list for upcoming feature films is another year that Marvel does itself, their audience, and women everywhere, a gigantic disservice.

Christian Roeber, Fanbase Press Contributor



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