Female superhero 'Captain Marvel' debuts in China on International Women's Day
By Ai Yan

Marvel Studio's first female-led superhero movie “Captain Marvel” debuted in North America and China on Friday, which is also International Women's Day.

The first movie released after Marvel Studio's 10-year anniversary, "Captain Marvel" is about Carol Danvers, a character teased at the end of "Avengers: Infinity War" and she is said to be the most powerful of the Avengers - and based on the box office, it seems that's true.

Revenue from midnight releases has already exceeded 200 million yuan (29.75 million U.S. dollars) as of 20:00 BJT (12:00 GMT) on Friday beating “Green Book” and Japanese manga adapted “Natsume's Book of Friends”, which enjoys a large fan base in China, to be the box office champion.

A poster from the film "Captain Marvel". /Photo via Douban.com

A poster from the film "Captain Marvel". /Photo via Douban.com

So far, it has a score of 7.2 on Douban.com, the Chinese version of Rotten Tomatoes, and 8.9 on Maoyan.com, China's largest ticket service platform.

“Captain Marvel” is set in 1995 and takes ace fighter pilot Carol Danvers, as played by Oscar winner Brie Larson, from Earth to deep space where she joins the elite military team Starforce and joins the fight against intergalactic evil.

The film has been planned since as early as 2013. It was written directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, best known for "Half Nelson" and "Mississippi Grind", and also stars Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou and a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson.

With a female superhero and a female co-director, the film could be easily linked to the increased demand for increased female representation in the American film industry. And Larson herself has been quoted in several occasions as saying that she has been seeking stronger female representation on and off screen for a long time since winning the Best Actress award at the 2016 Oscars.

Aliens from the film "Captain Marvel". /Douban.com

Aliens from the film "Captain Marvel". /Douban.com

“I'm sure the effect of what the character does and how she is perceived is going to be really a kind of wonderful boost for the female empowerment movement,” Samuel L. Jackson, starring as superspy Nick Fury in the film, was quoted as saying during the London premier last month.

The film has also been praised for depicting friendship between women, instead of focusing on a typical romance plot.

“It's nice to just show two women hanging out, supporting each other, and that being the love in the movie instead of a romantic love,” said Lashana Lynch, who plays Danvers' friend and fellow pilot Maria Rambeau.

The female representation and depiction in the film has been loved by many Chinese movie-goers.

Goose the cat poses for a photo. /VCG Photo‍

Goose the cat poses for a photo. /VCG Photo‍

“While watching her battling and growing, I have forgot about her gender. She is a hero, and there is no need to emphasize she is a ‘female superhero',” a Douban user commented. “And the film didn't avoid showing her in a weak position as a woman, which makes her a full character.”

“She doesn't need a savior, and she can stand up after setbacks. She does not need to prove herself to the men.”

The film also impressed Chinese fans by paying respect to Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee, who died in November last year. And, Captain Marvel's cat Goose - named after Anthony Edwards' character in Tony Scott's 1986 classic "Top Gun" - has already become a fan favorite.

Cast member Brie Larson interacts with fans at the premiere for the movie "Captain Marvel" in Los Angeles, California, U.S. /VCG Photo

Cast member Brie Larson interacts with fans at the premiere for the movie "Captain Marvel" in Los Angeles, California, U.S. /VCG Photo

However, despite the widespread promotion and passionate discussions online, the film has only received a lukewarm reputation from fans and critics alike, with many pointing out that the film is incredibly formulaic.

“The plot is cliché and the villains are only symbols. They have no understandable motives at all,” a Douban user commented. Some also compared “Captain Marvel” to DC Entertainment's “Wonder Woman”, which starred Gal Gadot, becoming the first female-led superhero film when it was released in 2017.