Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Captain Marvel/The Avengers.
A few nights ago, I was sitting around a bonfire with a small group of friends.
For some reason, The Marvel Universe got brought up and my boyfriend’s best friend went on a very long-winded rant about the Captain Marvel film that came out last year and how much he disliked the movie.
By the time he finished the rant I was a glass of wine in and felt the need to ask him, “Do you think that part of the reason you disliked it was because it was about a woman?”
Please keep in mind I have seen the movie and wasn’t impressed by it in general, but I wanted to hear his thoughts.
His answer brought up an angle that I hadn’t even thought of.
“I don’t care about the fact that she’s a woman. I would have the same exact gripes if she was a man. Even Superman has a weakness, how am I supposed to be invested in a character that is completely untouchable?”
His point was completely valid.
As women we want representation and to be equal to our male counterparts in every aspect of life, including cinema. However, almost every attempt seems to be a bit shoddily done and unrealistic.
To give you a little bit of background, Captain Marvel is the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a female superhero at its star and a woman serving as a co-director and writer.
In the movie, Bree Larson plays Captain Marvel who believes that she is a normal woman until she eventually learns that she is from another planet and taps into powers that make her completely invincible.
Like… beyond superman invincible; he had a blatant weakness after all.
I really tried to like the movie because it was about female empowerment and she had badass moments but beyond superman invincible… where is the story in that?
Now the head at Marvel claims that Captain Marvel isn’t invincible and that she has weaknesses. The issue is… we didn’t see any of them and it’s been noticed by fans of the franchise and moviegoers alike.
Women want legitimate representation and instead, we were given a woman that is stone-faced, unemotional, and who holds the power of the universe in her hands.
What do I consider a good representation of women in the media?
The first thing that popped into my mind when I asked myself this question was a scene in Big Little Lies when Nicole Kidman is talking about her need to do something more than being a mother.
In the scene, Nicole Kidman’s character has gotten a taste of when she had a career. At that moment she talks about how she feels alive and so good for the first time in so long… then she admits that being a mother isn’t enough to fulfill her completely.
After saying she needs more than being a mother, she wonders out loud if she is evil and she feels completely ashamed.
It is a scene that is completely relatable given that as a society we grow up believing that our only worth is in being a mother and we are constantly criticized for wanting more.
That is the representation that I want to see.
The primary issue with Captain Marvel for me is that we don’t see much of a struggle and I can’t relate with the “struggle” that she goes through.
For part of the film, we witness a woman who struggles to accept her reality and who she was “born to be” but then she steps into her power and things fall into place in a burst of light and explosions.
That’s not what I want.
I want to see her go through the struggles and loss that her male superhero counterparts have faced instead of facing her foe and having a witty one-liner after fighting him as if it was a piece of cake.
I want to know that as a woman it’s okay to not be completely and magically fulfilled by having kids. I want to know that my struggles are real and valid. I want to feel those things without being ashamed of letting the mask slip.
As the women in Big Little Lies scream at the top of their lungs… I want more.
Carrie Wynn writes to provide education on the impact of emotional and psychological abuse, how to cultivate a healthy relationship, and how you can work on yourself to realize your self-worth.
Image courtesy of Gemma Chua-Tran.