It was bound to happen. When Captain Marvel released, fans and trolls alike were going to compare the movie, the hero, and the actress, to it’s DC counterpart, Wonder Woman. Who could beat who in a fight? Who had the better film? The first two female-led superhero movies of both the MCU and the DCU were going to cause some comparing and contrasting. That’s nerdom. That’s what we do. It’s what we’ve done since the beginning of time. We pit heroes against each other in faux-battles with arbitrary conditions when we all know that if said heroes ever met, they’d fight for a minute, realize they were on the same side, and then team up. Just like they always do. There would be no “winner” unless it was the both ladies against whatever villain was handy. 95% of the time, it’s all in good fun. But the other 5%? When it becomes toxic, misogynistic, unconstructive, belittling, bad-mouthing bullying? What steps need to be taken to check ourselves and what can we as nerds, as human beings, do to make our fandoms happier places?
Picture a minivan full of kids. The parents have just taken them out to see Captain Marvel. As Mom pulls out of the parking lot, Dad spins around to gauge how well the kids liked it. The minivan erupts into cheers. Mom comments with a shrug. “It was good! But I think I liked Wonder Woman better.” The kids shout out their favorites with mixed results. Dad asks “Who do you think would win in a fight?” The van overwhelmingly supports Captain Marvel. Dad grins. “This is definitely another one I want to own, though.” Mom nods in agreement. “Oh, definitely.” And then they begin to discuss the kind of pizza they’re going to order before going home.
Was that a perfect exchange? No. Was it lighthearted, all for fun, and encompassing what comic books and comic book movies SHOULD be about? Hell yeah.
Now maybe the parents could’ve gone a step or six further into the discussion. It’s not necessary to pit the two women against each other or compare them. They’re different characters in very different movie universes. Why do we always have to pit women against women for our own amusement? Well, it gets a bit complicated there. We as nerds do so with ALL our superheroes, male or female. Whole YouTube channels and independent studios are devoted to superhero fights. But in the real world, we overwhelmingly skew towards one side when we compare leads in movies.
The difference would be if our fictional family compared Brie Larson to Gal Gadot. Both are extraordinary actresses who did wonderful jobs and there is no need to compare their acting abilities, looks, or any other variable one might judge an actress by. Comparing the movies themselves is fine. Comparing the abilities of the superheroines is fine. As long as we stop to acknowledge that both are awesome in their own right and fans of each have completely valid reasons for liking their heroines.
What becomes an issue is when things turn nasty. When we say bullshit things like “Why can’t she just smile more?” or “Her (ass/tits) don’t look good enough to wear that suit.” Or when smelly, wart-covered, halitosis suffering, petty, childish trolls decide to take to social media and movie review websites to try and force a movie to do poorly by posting faux news, rumors, and reviews.
These characters are very different. Their stories are very different. The tone of the movies is very different.
Wonder Woman was raised in power, and I don’t mean the powers she develops later in the film. She was raised believing she was powerful in her own right, as a human being, as a woman. She was a woman, raised in power, walking into “man’s world”.
Captain Marvel fought for every ounce of power she had until her crash. She fought for every ounce of power she was ALLOWED after her crash. She was a woman, raised in “man’s world”, coming into her power.
So when fans say that Captain Marvel feels like the first female-led hero movie, it’s because Captain Marvel is a different hero than Wonder Woman. In a lot of ways, Captain Marvel is more relatable to what women go through; real-world struggles. Fighting uphill to get to where you want to be, need to be, are supposed to be. While Wonder Woman represents the ideal of what a woman’s journey should look like. Knocking over every asshole who tries to hinder your journey and using them as stairs to get to where you’re going.
Wonder Woman was the first female-led superhero movie. Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Patty Jenkins and everyone else involved deserves the respect for paving the way. And Brie Larson, Ann Boden, Nicole Perlman, and everyone else involved deserves the respect for taking the baton that Wonder Woman passed and running like hell with it.
It’s okay to run our What If scenarios. It’s okay to like one film over another. Or neither one of them! It’s okay to have preferences and likes, to wonder and compare, to argue even! As long as we remember that this is all for fun. That there are human beings at the other end of the comments we make. That whether you’re Marvel or DC, Carolcorps or Wonder Women, at the end we’re all fans of this genre we love and that should bring us all closer, not drive a wedge deeper in.
Call out the trolls. But remember to stop and really think about the person you’re arguing with. Don’t give in to legitimate hate. But stop and recognize passion for a hobby you’re equally passionate about when it’s there. Sometimes, as nerds, we just take this shit way too seriously. Take a second and make sure you’re not BOTH just being passionate nerds before you call a name or hit the block button. If you’re not? Block away.
Also, fuck those guys that review bombed Rotten Tomatoes.
What do you think about pitting superhero movies against each other? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!