Running on Empty: Captain Marvel controversy is ridiculous


If you’re a fan of Marvel movies, then you’ve heard about the new movie coming out this week bearing the entertainment company’s moniker, Captain Marvel. It’s getting a bit of attention, and not all of it positive.

You can’t walk out your front door anymore without seeing/hearing/participating in a political or social controversy. When it comes to movies, the most visible fights play out on sites like Rotten Tomatoes or Twitter, the former constantly scuffling with fake reviews and ratings with nefarious intent while the latter spews quotes and misquotes at a viral pace.

Ugh. It’s irritating.


Take Black Panther for instance. When its release date approached, ridiculous assertions like “It’s too black!” (whatever that means) were tossed around by one group while another tried to racially appropriate the movie and its characters by claiming white people should stay home and avoid wearing Panther-clad attire.

Of course, when it came out, the movie was neither “too black” (I mean, it is set in an isolated African nation, so…) nor was its appeal confined to any one group or people. It was just a darn good film. Sure, it wasn’t worthy of the Best Picture nomination it received (it wasn’t even the best Marvel movie that year!), but if it takes a Black Panther nod to get the Academy to finally start appreciating movies that appeal to the general public, then we’ll all applaud loudly.

Just like we should be doing for Captain Marvel.

No, I don’t mean because it’s a “feminist” movie (again, whatever that means). I have a daughter, and I love watching her identify with a butt-kicking character that looks and feels more like her, but I’m not relying on a comic book movie to open up new opportunities for my girl.

And I certainly don’t identify with the small group of extremists who are, once again, trying to appropriate the movie by telling white males to stay home and avoid the theater, that this movie is “not for them.”

Would they have said that to Roy Thomas or Gene Colan, the creators of the Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers character? Or would the Black Panther extremists have told Stan Lee or Jack Kirby that they couldn’t wear Wakanda Forever shirts to show their love of characters they created?

In case you’re wondering, they were all old white men (well, not old then, but certainly by the time their characters hit the big screen).

These controversies are just nuts.

First of all, if you really want Captain Marvel to have a feminine impact on the audience, then shut up and just let them go see it. Let them revel in the action and get caught up in the grandiose themes. Let them laugh and cheer for a character they love but are only marginally aware is a woman. And then let them walk out of the theater and into their homes and workplaces with a subtly adjusted expectation of what a woman is capable of in the real world.

But, if you want to cut Captain Marvel off at the knees, if you truly want it to destroy any lasting change it could create in people, then by all means keep yelling at us over it. Because the best way to render a movie powerless is by screaming its message with angry and vengeful rhetoric.

And if you’re of the opinion that it will be “too feminine” or full of overly progressive messaging…come on. That’s not what Marvel movies have done in the past. All the stuff swirling around their films to date have come from fringe commentary or flat out fabricated falsehoods. It’s just not what a profitable company like Marvel – or their parent company Disney – does. They’re in this to make money by making good movies, and alienating large portions of potential ticket buyers runs contrary to both.

Black Panther wasn’t “too black” and Captain Marvel won’t be “too feminine.” They are both appropriately black and feminine, respectively, to the extent that they should be to be true to their characters, characters that everyone can engage with and everyone should go see. And since I’m the columnist here, I’ll layout exactly why you should go see Captain Marvel.

Because it’s going to be a good movie.

That’s it! It’s going to be fun, exciting, and emotionally captivating, and it looks to be exactly the kind of movie that will have me shoveling popcorn into my mouth by the handful from beginning to end. If it impacts me beyond that, hopefully it does so in ways that I never see coming.

And all the controversy can get behind me, cause it’s just not worth it.

(Now, if you want to talk about who the real Captain Marvel is – and no, I’m not talking about Carol Danvers’ male predecessor in Marvel Comics – then I’m ready and willing to discuss the original Captain Marvel created decades earlier by Fawcette Comics. You’ll know him by his gut-wrenching name change, Shazam! in his own movie this April. He sold millions more comics than Superman and has consistently been given the short end of the stick since. But that’s another soap box for a different day…)