9:00 am EST, March 7, 2019

Dear Men: It’s okay if you don’t like ‘Captain Marvel,’ but we have a request

It’s possible that Captain Marvel won’t be the best Marvel movie — but right now, we need your support, not your negativity.

Captain Marvel is coming out very soon, and it will be the first female-led Marvel movie! It’ll also hopefully bring us the solution to the world Thanos left behind in Infinity War… so this movie has big implications for the future of the franchise.

It’s a big moment for Marvel, and it’s a big moment for female fans everywhere, who have been waiting years to be represented. And yet, I’m afraid of what is going to happen the moment we all see this film. I’m afraid of what people are going to say.

More specifically, I’m afraid of what you are going to say.

So, dear fellow Marvel fan who happens to be male, I wanted to share some thoughts with you as we both prepare to watch what will hopefully be a great movie (but possibly might not be that great of a movie.)

Captain Marvel

The fandom — and therefore the internet — is about to be full of opinions. In this industry, people especially like to target movies that certain demographics see themselves reflected in, because they deem them “too PC” (whatever that means). Some examples: all the guys who tore down Wonder Woman, trying to tell explain to women that she actually isn’t inspirational. Or the Uber driver who told me Black Panther was the most boring movie he’d ever seen — was he watching a documentary about literal black panthers? Because we definitely weren’t watching the same movie.

It’s fun to not like a thing and write a lot of articles about it. I imagine that a lot of people think it’s fun to stand up in the middle of a conversation with friends who all like Marvel movies and go “I think Avengers is everything that’s wrong with today’s cinema.” It’s nice to get pulled into a debate about something you’re passionate about.

But with Captain Marvel, I would like to invite you to ask yourself if you have to be passionate about not liking this movie (if you happen to not like it).

I think the answer is no. Here’s why:

The trolls are counting on you to side with them.

Rotten Tomatoes was already inundated by negative reviews for Captain Marvel… written by people who haven’t even watched the movie. These people have somehow become so passionate about not liking this film that they’ve worked really hard to try to discredit it. They want everyone to think this movie is bad. They want everyone to hate Carol Danvers before they even met her. (Has there ever been this degree of hatred towards Tony Stark, or Steve Rogers? Weirdly, no. I wonder why.)

“But I’m not like them!” you’ll say, if you leave the theater less than impressed by the film. “My reasons are legitimate!” And I know, you aren’t like them. Your reasons are probably good reasons: maybe the story is badly written, or the acting wasn’t the best, or there were clichés all over the place. Maybe it’ll be among the worst Marvel movies to date.

But these trolls are excited for the film to be released so they can see a wave of perfectly legitimate critics take their side, solidifying their position that the first female-led Marvel film is bad… and that Marvel shouldn’t ever do this again.

Is it necessary for you, a perfectly sensible Marvel fan with no deep-seated misogynistic views, to add your voice to a crowd of trolls?

Maybe this movie won’t move you. But it will move others.

The fact is, not all movies have the same effect on everyone. And that’s okay. The Superman movies didn’t make a profound impact on me as a little girl, because I didn’t see myself reflected in his character, although I did appreciate the entertainment. In the same way, for a lot of men and little boys, Captain Marvel might not be the most influential force in their life.

But there are little girls out there who are dying to see a female superhero. Hell, there are grown women like me out there who are probably going to cry the moment she has her “No Man’s Land” scene — and I hate that I, too, am comparing this movie to Wonder Woman already… it just goes to show how little content of this sort exists in cinema, since I only have one major female superhero to compare Carol to.

That’s not to say that a movie about a woman can’t be inspirational to boys and men. Women have felt inspired by stories about men for a long time. But if this movie doesn’t tug at your heartstrings quite like it does for your female friends, maybe that’s okay. Maybe this just isn’t your movie, in the same way Ant-Man wasn’t mine. Or maybe it has nothing to do with gender at all — maybe the Black Widow movie will be your favorite film (if Marvel ever gets around to making it.)

Don’t worry, we’ll know if the movie isn’t good.

Women aren’t stupid. We know when a movie isn’t good. Many of us are diehard Marvel fans and many of us have dedicated our lives to covering these movies. We are going to talk about how bad it is, if it’s bad. You won’t have to tell us.

And please don’t misunderstand me — I’m not asking you to sit down and shut up. I don’t think the solution to the deeply gendered superhero genre is to make separate girls’ and boys’ sections. We are all obviously entitled to our opinions.

But please think about all of this when your buddy starts trashing Captain Marvel at dinner, looking at the women present as if it’s their job to defend the film.

Think about it when people automatically start pitting Captain Marvel against Wonder Woman, simply because they’re the only two big superhero films that have featured a woman… against an infinity of male-centric stories.

Think about it when memes by men, for men, about how bad Carol Danvers is, start popping up on your social media feed — and ask yourself why exactly there is so much hatred.

And think about us, the women in the fandom, who now have exactly one Marvel movie about a female superhero, after over ten years of going to watch and support all the male-centric films. Will you give us a chance to enjoy this, and not tear it down immediately, even if you don’t like it?

Thanks for reading this. I appreciate it. And I look forward to talk about our theories and our favorite scenes after we watch Captain Marvel together.

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