I love Wonder Woman. I got into comics mostly because of Wonder Woman. If I had to make a list of my favourite superheroes, she would be at the very top. So why am I more excited about the Captain Marvel movie than Wonder Woman’s? I don’t seem to be alone in this either, so I want to examine some possible reasons.
Firstly is probably how they were announced. WB made their movie announcements in a shareholder’s meeting without any fanfare, and then we just got a list of movies they hope to make. That was about it! The only other rumour I’ve heard to come out of the Wonder Woman announcement was that they are reportedly looking for a female director, which is pretty exciting. But honestly I don’t feel enthused that all of DC’s movies will get made. Ray Fisher, the man who will play Cyborg, only found out hours before the announcement that Cyborg will get a solo film in 2020. And that’s six years from now, WB can easily pull the plug on it if they feel the superhero movies aren’t profitable enough. I already posted on why the announcement left me unenthusiastic, but I just want to reiterate.
Marvel, on the other hand, scheduled an announcement, and not only that, but they released concept art of Black Panther, plus Black Panther casting news. Marvel just had more to present than a list, and announced it in a better way.
But my lack of enthusiasm for a Wonder Woman movie isn’t limited to just the marketing. Wonder Woman is a superhero born out of feminism and has been a feminist icon for some time now. However, that doesn’t mean she’s depicted in a feminist friendly way, and certainly since the New 52, DC seems set on distancing her from feminism. Instead of an society made up of women who were the incarnation of battered women, chosen by the gods, the Amazons are now murdering man-hating baby killers and slavers. If you haven’t read New 52 Wonder Woman, I am not being hyperbolic. The Amazons now seem like they were written by anti-choice misogynists, who see in the Amazons everything they believe about feminists in general. During Gail Simone’s run, there was a plot where a Wonder Woman movie was to be made and the Amazons were being depicted as man haters, and Wonder Woman wondered why people feel that “a belief in women equals a hatred for men?”. And that’s pretty much the Wonder Woman we’ve had for the last three years. I will say in writer Azzarello’s favour that he does write Wonder Woman’s compassionate side well. There were times in the run where I felt he nailed what makes her so great instead of making her an angry Xena knockoff. But it came at a great expense. It has been announced that in the movies, Wonder Woman will be a daughter of Zeus, an origin that was only added with the New 52. If they take more from the New 52, I fear that we will see the anti-feminist movie that Gail Simone predicted.
Compare that with Captain Marvel. Now, when Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel’s civilian name) was created, she too was born out of feminism. She was an Air Force pilot, then a CIA agent, then worked for NASA, then became an editor of a women’s magazine. Her first superhero name was Ms. Marvel, and seriously, using “Ms.” instead of “Miss” was kinda big in 1977. The image of her as a feminist icon, however, has not stuck over the years like it has for Wonder Woman. Her costume, which was, like Wonder Woman’s, a one piece bathing suit, was often used for cheesecake art. She’s had a lot of weird plot lines, including famously in Avengers #200 where after she was kidnapped, raped and impregnated, the Avengers gladly saw her go off into the sunset with her rapist. That comic has gained a lot of notoriety, and even writer Jim Shooter admitted it was “heinous”, “a travesty”, and apologized.
Many Ms. Marvel fans however felt she was always meant to be an A-list star, and Marvel could be rightly criticized for not really having a superstar female hero in general. In 2012, it was decided that Ms. Marvel would become Captain Marvel. And her feminism wasn’t held back, it was right there on the cover.
While the 2012 series didn’t sell very well, after the release of the trade the Carol Corps (the extremely enthusiastic Carol Danvers fanbase) emerged, and Captain Marvel was relaunched. The Ms.Marvel/Captain Marvel fanbase only got stronger this year with the debut of the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. We don’t know the sales numbers of digital books, but it does appear that women buy more comics online than in store, and allegedly Ms. Marvel sells more digitally than she does in physical copies; if true she is one of the best selling comics out there right now. Her first paperback trade has also made the New York Times Bestseller’s list. Ms Marvel #1 was so popular, it went into a very rare 7th printing, and I am now kicking myself for not taking better care of my first print issue.
Kamala Khan is an Inhuman, but was so inspired by Carol Danvers that she took up the Ms. Marvel identity. I can only imagine that when Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel finally team up, the internet will explode with delight.
When comparing the history of these two feminist characters, the contrast in how they stand today is stark. Wonder Woman has been a feminist icon for a long time, but has in recent years been resting on her laurels. To her credit, Sensation Comics has had a lot of pro-feminist stories so far. Clearly, she is still a symbol of girl power. Captain Marvel, however, struggled to find her place as a feminist icon, but has finally become a celebrated hero for many women. And it is worth pointing out that at Marvel, she isn’t just the strongest female superhero, but Earth’s mightiest hero. That’s big.
Wonder Woman’s little sister, Donna Troy, has been missing since the reboot. She hasn’t been an inspiration or mentor to other female heroes. She remains the token female of the Justice League. When she teamed up with Batwoman, she wept over how much stronger Batwoman was. It was a little embarrassing and not the badass team up I expected. I couldn’t even ship that.
I never thought I’d say this, but I hope DC strays far from the comics when they write the Wonder Woman script. At least, I hope that her father being Zeus is the only thing lifted from The New 52. There is a lot to fear and little confidence that they will do right by her or by the Amazons. With Captain Marvel, however, it feels like they have done their worst with Carol Danvers and learned from it, and spent years rebuilding her. This will be a Captain Marvel movie, not Ms. Marvel. She will be Earth’s mightiest hero, the most powerful superhero yet in the MCU, and there’s plenty from her comic in the last two years that I would love to see on film. I feel confident that they will get her right.
Seriously, can we see her and Rocket Raccoon fight over her cat?