Infinity War was a resounding success – with a domestic gross total of almost $700 million at the box office for the franchise, that much is for sure. And we were all left wondering, and Googling perhaps, with its post-credits scene. Captain Marvel. A major female superhero, and the first (of hopefully many) to command her own headline story on the big screen under the Marvel name. This titular heroine has her own story to tell, and it’s one of many to come in 2019.
New Names, New Stories
A supernatural soldier of alien origin according to her teaser trailer, Captain Marvel will lead the charge in the coming Infinity Wars story and beyond. Lara Croft, Rey, Ghostbusters, Wonder Woman; across film, television and games women have been moving into the limelight one release at a time, and the road certainly hasn’t been easy. There has been anger, backlash, finger-pointing from fans and media alike. Rey, the heroine of the rebooted Star Wars franchise, has come under intense flack for lack of substance in her character. The all-female Ghostbusters were shot down as a gimmick – by some, that is.
And Captain Marvel, to the scorn of many, caused her own stir when certain groups photoshopped a marketing poster so that, instead of a smouldering, heroic glare, she wore a smile instead. Because women should always be smiling, even in war (the backlash of doing the same to many male heroes is both disturbing and hilarious, by the way).
Being a hero on screen, in a game, within media, means so much more than being a character in a story. It means you’re a paragon, someone to look up to, someone who is on the side of the good guys. Heroes come on lunch boxes. They come on street side posters. They’re part of an industry. Heroes are commercialized.
Today we’re able to access our heroes more than ever before: through novelisations, through spin-offs, through internet fandom and through the expansion of their universes beyond the source material. You can swing with Spiderman on the PS4 in ultra HD, webbing bad guys, you can eat cereal with Captain America on the box. The appeal of these franchises goes so far that there are even officially branded online slots with superheroes, as well as themed slots with heroes of their own, like Super Heroes at Betchan. We’re only just beginning to see women trickle into such heroic, protagonist roles. And as they do, the balance of representation when it comes to such figures, in all industries and the resultant media, is beginning to level out.
The Ladies of the Future
Who can we expect then to grace our screens in the coming year?
Rey will return without a doubt, like it or not. The untitled Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled for release in 2019. Then there’s Ellie, the desperate warrior trapped in the zombie torn, post-apocalyptic world of The Last of Us II, and Kate Diaz too, the new female protagonist of the Gears of War games. Captain Marvel comes to screens in March, and the Game of Thrones series with its many war-torn women of Westeros, reprises in summer.
Frozen 2 is also scheduled for release, perhaps leaning toward a younger audience, and the adventures of Supergirl will continue to be told via her television series.
And it’ll all come to a head where we began, with Infinity Wars Part 2, Captain Marvel included.
There’s no question that there need to be more women in media, and particularly women of diverse backgrounds. It’s one of Hollywood’s latest bugbears, but the change shows no sign of slowing just yet. Hold on tight folks: 2019 is going to be a bumpy ride.