It was barely over a decade ago, in 2008, when Iron Man burst into our collective screens and forever changed the face of modern pop culture. At the time, the move was undoubtedly a trailblazing one, and one that introduced audiences to an entirely new kind of superhero — subversive, carefree, unexpected, and just the right amount of bad-ass, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was far from the run-of-the-mill, goody-two shoes superheroes of pop culture canon.
It is now over ten years later, and the term ‘Marvel‘ has since become a household name and commercial giant, familiar to quite literally anyone in the world with access to a screen. And indeed, in the years since, the studio has consistently produced blockbuster after blockbuster, continuously amping up the stakes of popular comic-book canon. And ten years later, the studio has introduced another new milestone — this time, in the form of a woman — and not just any woman either, but one of the most powerful superheroes in the comic giant’s decades-long history: Captain Marvel herself.
And if her name has kept a relatively low profile in pop culture of years past, it’s definitely poised to grow even higher, further, and faster (pun intended) in our collective consciousness in the very near future — and her arrival couldn’t have been more ideal, as audiences are readier than ever to welcome her into the roster of superhero-movie canon. In a survey conducted by SnippetMedia, the majority of 1000 respondents — 53.5%, to be exact — were extremely interested in seeing superhero’s first titular movie, which came out last March 8th — coinciding with International Women’s Day. In contrast, 36.8% were very interested, while a mere 0.5% had no interest at all. In totality, those who had varying degrees of interest in the new Captain Marvel film constituted 94% of the respondents, while 0.5% had no interest, and 5.5% were undecided.
The study also found that issues of gender representation in popular media were increasingly being welcomed into mainstream conversation, as audiences predominantly agreed that Captain Marvel’s very power as a female superhero — and one of the very few to headline a film — was a significance in itself. The view was broadly expressed across both men and women, totalling to 94.6% who agreed on Captain Marvel’s inherent female power, as compared to 0.5% who thought otherwise, while a remaining 4.9% were undecided. Of these, 95.5% of respondents were women, while men averaged to a slightly lower 93.4%.
Indeed, the response comes in the midst of the steadily emerging narrative in the movie industry of diversifying and amplifying female roles in popular films. Captain Marvel marks Marvel Studios’ first entry into female-led superhero films, despite the character’s decades-long existence, since her first appearance in 1977’s ‘Ms. Marvel’ comic.
Two years earlier, in 2017, also saw the first emergence of DC Comics favourite ‘Wonder Woman’ into modern superhero pop culture, with newcomer Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress, in the title role. A sequel is currently in the works, as are talks for further standalone films for Marvel’s other female superheroes, such as fan favourite Black Widow — all signalling what seems to be a new era of diverse representation and character inclusivity in what is probably the very forefront of popular, mainstream media. Indeed, it is no secret that Marvel Studios has cemented its status as one of the most major players in the global entertainment industry, and to this day continues to influence multitudes of moviegoers — no small feat, considering that it has consistently remained at the top of the commercial revenue pyramid.
But at its very core, what remains Marvel’s largest influence by far is its inherent power and relevance as a cultural artifact, and one that is so readily accessible and well-loved by millions. This, in retrospect, is perhaps what makes this year’s Captain Marvel feel so refreshingly trailblazing, after years of men in various power poses gracing the posters of comic-book films, telling the stories of courage, kindness, and hope daring to fight evil against all odds. It is also no secret that the comic-book world has been predominantly a men’s club since its very inception because of this, and has only very recently begun welcoming its doors to female figures in positions of power. And with the likes of Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman at its forefront, audiences seem all but ready to welcome this change: 93.4% of the study’s respondents voted for more overall movies highlighting female superheroes, 95.5% of whom were women, and 90.2% men.
The study further identified last year’s Avengers: Infinity War and 2008’s Iron Man as voters’ most-loved Marvel movies, with more men preferring the former and women preferring the latter. Whether or not their preferences remain, what with the persistent emergence of power-wielding, glass-ceiling-breaking women, remains yet to be seen. See the summarized survey results below.
© Marvel Superheroes images courtesy of MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT, LLC.