Don’t expect to see a “Captain Marvel” movie from Marvel Studios any time soon – or at least, not one with the current Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers. Or any female-led movie, for that matter.
That is the word from Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, and therefore the person most likely to know about these things. He did an interview with the site Movies.com about the future plans for Marvel movies, and it was picked up all over the comic book blogosphere. When asked straight out if Marvel would have a movie with a female lead character, Feige said there wasn’t one in the works currently, and Marvel is planning out the 2016 and 2017 releases. He went on to justify this by citing the many heroic, world-saving performances by female characters in movies like “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3.”
As the site The Daily Dot points out, however, Black Widow wouldn’t have even had a chance to save the world in The Avengers if Joss Whedon hadn’t insisted on having her in what was planned as an all-male cast.
Many sites and commenters have pointed out what seems like a discrepancy in the level of risk that the studios seem to claim for a female-led superhero movie, and the risk of making a movie with characters like a sentient tree and a machine gun toting raccon. DC received the brunt of this criticism for its statement about how risky it would be to make a Wonder Woman movie, and now Marvel may be about to get lambasted by the same critics. But, if you look at the numbers the comic book studios have to go on, the decision is understandable from a business sense, if not acceptable from a social sense.
Just last week, Marvel announced it was cancelling one of the MarvelNOW launch titles with an all-female cast, The Fearless Defenders. As a business, Marvel doesn’t make such decisions based on any kind of deep-seated misogyny, it does so for one reason – sales numbers. As a movie studio, Marvel Studios sees that, overall, female-led books sell less than male-led, or mixed group books.
Does that mean it shouldn’t take on that higher level of risk? Absolutely not. And maybe this is where Marvel’s parent, Disney can come in and slap some sense into them. Disney has made successful movies with female leads for more than half a century. Look at “Mulan” for example. If Disney can have a hit in the US with a movie set in ancient China (not America) with a Chinese (not white) female (not a dude) lead that pretends to be a guy (gender identity), how much risk would Marvel really take on by making a movie featuring a strong-willed white blonde woman from Boston in a butt-revealing bathing suit-like uniform?