Waiting for Captain Marvel is getting old

Note: This piece contains spoilers from Ant-Man.

I am a glutton for punishment when it comes to comic book movies. I’ve never been that interested in comic books, but going to Marvel films is something I do. I get pumped for Marvel films because they remind me of my father and being the twelve year old getting to so stay up late for the first time. But I am tired.

When Marvel announced the Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies, I was among those cheering. Finally, a superhero film that centered a person of color and a woman. The reality, however, is that those films aren’t coming until 2018. In the meantime, we have to wait and watch films like Ant-Man invoke some sort of pseudo-feminist-women-are-badass-but-still-need-protecting message. Frankly, I may not make it until 2018.

There was something particularly insulting about Ant-Man. Hope van Dyne, the daughter of retired Ant-Man, Hank Pym, spent most of the movie being better than Scott Lange, the cat burglar picked by Hank to be “his guy.” In one particularly frustrating scene, Hope literally begs her father to be involved and essentially save the mission because Scott was sucking, and Hank just shouts, “No!” Scott explains to Hope that he is expendable, and she is not, which is why he wears the suit.

To some, that storyline is touching. Fathers loving and protecting their daughters plays well to certain audiences, but it wouldn’t surprise me if daughters who are sick of being protected and just want to change the world already gave it a massive eye roll. And that’s the problem with Marvel. Marvel has no problem justifying the waiting game (they’re busy ok?), but I wonder if the cost will eventually be too great.

With each new film, there are more rumblings about how Marvel sucks with women, something that is only bound to get worse as we enter phase 3. That could mean more damsel in distress moments from Jane Foster, the brilliant scientist who still needs Thor to save her. By the time we hit 2018, however, the Avengers show up again, which means Black Widow and the usual uproar about her character still not having her own freaking movie.

At my core, I’m a pretty big Marvel fan. As a studio, they have completely revolutionized the possibilities of the movie-going experience. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is aptly named, and also the first of its kind. Personally, I think the accomplishments of the studio are nothing short of magical. And yet when I walked away from Ant-Man, I felt frustrated and defeated instead of jazzed. Hope’s moment came after the film had already ended. In an Easter Egg scene, something that is standard for Marvel, Hank shows Hope the unfinished, upgraded Wasp suit he and Hope’s mother, Janet, had been working on, effectively giving it to her. Her response was, “It’s about damn time.”

And it is, but that doesn’t mean we will get a woman-centric Marvel film any sooner. The scene in question didn’t even come until after the movie was over. I’m not buying the idea that Ant-Man was just as much Hope’s story as Scott’s. Ant-man is a movie about two men striving to be the best they can be for their daughters. There may be some nuance present, but to suggest that that film was in any way about Hope is grasping at straws. Not to mention the fact that while I may personally love nuance and subtext, I am tired of having to look for it to ground a feminist analysis of a Marvel film. I want it to stare me plainly in the face, knock me off my feet, and scream, “Here I am!” I don’t think that’s unreasonable given that the inverse has been true since I started going to these movies.

The facts are that no matter my personal or collective outrage, the schedule was built before the outcry about a lack of women became the natural response to Marvel films, so we have to wait. Breaking box office records and filling Marvel’s coffers with stacks of cash doesn’t exactly have an amazing “I told you so” effect, but it’s the only one I can hope for. In the meantime, “It’s about damn time,” will not become my rallying cry. Marvel can do better than that.

P.S. Ms. Marvel #1 was the top selling Marvel digital comic in 2014. That’s all.

Header Image Credit: Comic Vine


Katie Barnes (they/them/their) is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer. While at St. Olaf College studying History and (oddly) Russian (among other things), Katie fell in love with politics, and doing the hard work in the hard places. A retired fanfiction writer, Katie now actually enjoys writing with their name attached. Katie actually loves cornfields, and thinks there is nothing better than a summer night's drive through the Indiana countryside. They love basketball and are a huge fan of the UConn women's team. When not fighting the good fight, you can usually find Katie watching sports, writing, or reading a good book.

Katie Barnes is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer.

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