Captain Marvel, the first female-led superhero blockbuster by Marvel Studios and Disney, became an instant box-office hit this weekend. In spite of an attempted boycott administered by sexist internet trolls, the movie achieved the six highest-grossing opening of all time. The film opened on International Women’s Day.
The movie’s protagonist, Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson, is an outspoken feminist. The controversy surrounding Captain Marvel began before the movie opened in theaters when Larson said that she wanted to make the movie’s press-tour more inclusive and less overwhelmingly “white male.”
Larson’s words were quickly taken out of context by internet sites, inciting men’s rights activists to begin a smear campaign against the movie and its protagonist.
“To them, a call for expanded access to opportunities for women in people of color in a space traditionally dominated by white men is not only an insult — it amounts to a threat to take away what they consider theirs,” said Daily Beast reporter Melissa Leon.
Internet trolls used a strategy known as “review bombing,” which consists of flooding evaluation platforms with fake reviews, to bring the score of the movie down. According to an article by Vox, there were 4,500 one-star reviews on IMDB before the movie was released. Rotten Tomatoes had to alter its movie review policy after it became clear that “bad-faith” reviews were flooding their website.
Trolls also complained that Larson did not “smile enough” in the movie. Larson responded with humor by posting famous, male Marvel superheroes with photoshopped smiles.
After the immensely successful Wonder Woman and Black Panther movies, who also dealt with smear campaigns of their own, Captain Marvel comes to once again shatter pre-conceived notions of what makes a box-office success. Studios over the years have struggled with the idea that people would want to watch a super-hero movie that wasn’t starred by a “white male”.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Captain Marvel’s momentum has rocked every major market, except for Japan. “In China, the movie debuted to $89.3 million, followed by $24.1 million in South Korea, $16,8 million in the U.K and $13.4 million in Brazil, a near-industry record”.
It seems that Captain Marvel is beating her enemies both on and off-screen.