Brie Larson is the feminist icon we all need

Ever since Kevin Feige and Robert Downey Jr. kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in 2008 with Iron Man, there has been no looking back.

But ever since the first Avengers movie was launched in 2012, chants for a new female superhero led movie have been hounding Disney (the studio that owns Marvel) and Marvel executives.

And our prayers were finally answered at the 2016 Comic Con when it was announced that Brie Larson would be starring as the titular Carol Danvers in Marvel’s first woman-led superhero movie, Captain Marvel that will be released on March 8, 2019. March 8 is also International Women’s Day.

Though Marvel has already launched a few female superheroes like Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Nebula and Gamora among others but none of them has an exclusive movie. They have always been part of an ensemble cast.

Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel is touted to be the most powerful superhero in the MCU if her comic book roots and Marvel are to be believed. Fans are hoping that after Captain Marvel will be able to save the Avengers and the world after Thanos’ snap at the end of Avengers: Infinity War wiped out half of the universe’s population.

If rumours are to be believed, Larson was not the first choice to play Danvers. Marvel had greenlit writers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck to begin working on the script back in 2014. At that time the movie was tentatively titled Ms. Marvel.

Larson had begun talking to star in Captain Marvel after the release of her movie Room in 2015, right in the middle of her movie’s race to the Oscars.

Larson, who is an ardent and outspoken critic of sexual assault and Hollywood’s treatment of women, was not very sure of starring in the movie. When she won a Best Female Actor for her performance in Room, her worries doubled.

“I was hesitant to even meet,” Larson says. “I was like, ‘I don’t think what comes with a movie like that is anything that I can harness and hold. I’m too much of an introvert. I’ll just collapse.’ … But then they started talking to me about this film, and I was like, ‘Drat, this is the culmination of a lot of things I’ve wanted,’ ” Larson told The Hollywood Reporter recently in an interview.

But even before the movie was launched, the movie was embroiled in a controversy. When its first trailer had dropped, the more male-dominated comic book fan-base had voiced their disapproval to Captain Marvel’s full body suit as shown in the trailer.

In the comic books, Captain Marvel mostly appeared wearing a swimsuit or in a dress that was cut-off at her midriff.

Larson clarified that ‘dressing up like that was never a part of the deal’. She told Hollywood Reporter in the same interview that when she went through the comic books and saw her wearing the same costume, she had expressed her displeasure to Kevin Feige. And Feige had instantly clarified that her character would not be dressed like that. “Thank you for saying that,” she had told him.  

Lawrence’s career advice to Larson

Brie Larson is the feminist icon we all need
Source: Instagram

Post winning her Oscar for Room, Larson felt very disillusioned with the trajectory of her career and was extremely worried about ‘everything and nothing in particular’. She said that she felt very vulnerable but not validated, as reported by InStyle magazine.

She had gone on the record and admitted a month back that she had called her friend Jennifer Lawrence to vent and to take her advice. J-Law is her contemporary and another actor who won the Oscar a bit early in her career and has been under constant limelight ever since.

“I was like, ‘I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel better about myself. I still don’t feel like I’m a good actress,’” Larson said to which Lawrence had replied: “Oh, yeah. That’s totally normal. I’ve had the same thing. Don’t think of it like that. Think of it as, like, you got your Ph.D. You’re certified; that’s it. It doesn’t change anything. You can still f*** up. Every judge is still human.’”

Post her talk with Lawrence, Larson said that she felt more centred and regained a bit of her confidence. Since then, she has appeared in the commercial blockbuster ‘Kong: Skull Island’ opposite Tom Hiddleston. Her next release in Captain Marvel and after that her directorial feature ‘Unicorn Store’ opposite Michael B. Jordan will be released on Netflix.

Brie Larson and Time’s Up

Larson has been an ardent and outspoken critic of the ill-treatment meted out to women in different spheres of life. She said that this change came after she met a lot of sexual assault survivors when she was preparing for Lenny Abrahamson’s 2015 Room.

In Room, Larson stars as a woman who has been held captive for over seven years, where she is repeatedly sexually assaulted, and gives birth to a child. She and her son then manage to escape which allows the child to experience the outside world for the first time.

To prepare for the role, Larson went on a restrictive diet and avoided sunlight. When she met other sexual assault survivors, she said that she felt immensely heartbroken and then chose to speak out on behalf of them.

In line with this, when she presented Casey Affleck (against whom numerous sexual harassment allegations have been made) with the Best Actor Oscar in 2007, she refused to clap for him despite him getting a standing ovation by the audience. She had initially declined from presenting the award to him but later relented.

When the news of Harvey Weinstein’s antics broke in the middle of 2017, Larson and a few of her female co-stars and friends started texting each other to talk about other issues plaguing their daily routines.

Two issues that stood out were: pay parity and tagging mics on dresses. She negotiated hard with Marvel and secured a $5 million payday for playing Captain Marvel, which is quite amazing considering when Robert Downey Jr. did the first Iron Man in 2008, he charged a meagre $500,000 for his appearance.

And she is actively involved in the Time’s Up movement. She says that it still takes a few hours out of her day despite her heavy schedule. She was an integral part of the launch of the 4% campaign, a movement that asks actors and studios to announce at least one project with a woman director in the next 18 months. However, Disney Chief Bob Iger’s move to announce that 40% of all Disney movies from now on will be directed by women left her ‘too happy’.

But she is least bothered by social media sensationalism and extreme political polarisation that is plaguing the country right now. She is unafraid to raise her voice on issues that matter. Marvel Head Kevin Feige told the Hollywood Reporter that Larson fought for the inclusion of female journalists of color in the press junket for Captain Marvel.

Time for women superheros

Larson has repeatedly acknowledged the fact that her movie is not a win for feminists but rather just a hurdle that has been successfully crossed.

“Women have been a part of the art movement since time immemorial and have played an integral part in it. But they have always been pushed out of the frame when an art form took off. That’s just the way it is.’

When DC (Marvel’s competitor) released its female-led superhero action movie Wonder Woman, waves were felt globally. The movie not only grossed $822 million worldwide, it instantly became a critical success and was hailed as an inspiration for young girls everywhere.

Even Larson found herself crying in the movie hall after she watched the movie. She told The Hollywood Reporter: “As a kid, I wanted to be an adventurer,” Larson says. “I wanted to be a smartass. I wanted to get my hands dirty. But it wasn’t until being in the theater seeing Wonder Woman … I was like, ‘Why is this making me cry so much?’ I realized ’cause I hadn’t had that, and there was a kid in me that was like, ‘Oh, my God. I can do that?’ “

The Hollywood reporter also highlighted the fact that according to the moviegoer data analytics company Movio, Wonder Woman drew 16 percent more female moviegoers than the average superhero movie.


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