Brie Larson: A Superhero Both On and Off Screen

Marvel Studios dropped the trailer for its first ever female led superhero movie, Captain Marvel, and suffice to say, the internet blew up. The film, starring Brie Larson in the titular role, is set to launch in March next year and has already made headlines for the right as well as the wrong reasons *cough* that smile scandal *cough*. We’ll talk about that later. But the most important thing that came with the release of the trailer was female empowerment.

Captain Marvel is an ode to every single woman who has fallen down numerous times only to get back up again. It acknowledges the power of women and how we never back down, no matter how many times we fall. This is a film that acknowledges a woman for what she truly is: a hero. Females have had to face various difficulties in every step of the way. We live in a patriarchy, a system designed to bring women down no matter what we do. Sexual assault, misogyny, the wage gap, disgusting mindsets and being viewed as the inferior gender are just some of the many problems a woman faces on the daily. But despite all of it, despite the countless amount of times we fall down, women have always managed to stand back up stronger than ever, challenging the system every single time. Captain Marvel is an ode to that.

In the year of movements like #MeToo and #WhyIDidntReport, Captain Marvel comes as a symbol of hope and strength, and Brie Larson does a fantastic job in portraying exactly that. Now before we talk more about Brie, let’s just look at these beautifully empowering moments from the trailer for a second.

For example, when Carol Danvers falls down only to get back up again stronger and more determined than ever:

Image courtesy: Marvel Entertainment

Or this glorious moment when we finally see her charging up as Captain Marvel:

Image credit: Buzzfeed

But out of all the moments in the trailer, my favourite moment was the part when the word ‘her’ transcends into ‘a hero’:

Image credit: Marvel Entertainment

The significance that it holds is very strong, not just in female empowerment, but also in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The MCU is not short of powerful female superheroes: Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Valkyrie and The Wasp are just some of the names. But none of these female superheroes have had their own standalone film or moment per say. Only Wasp, played by Evangeline Lily, has somewhat got her own standalone film, or had her name appear in the title, but that too was in collaboration with a male superhero (Ant Man, played by Paul Rudd).

With Captain Marvel, the MCU has finally given a female superhero the recognition she deserves. There is no male to overshadow her this time. It’s just her powering through the entire movie. And she is arguably the most powerful superhero being introduced in the MCU right now. As a child, I never had a female superhero to look up to. It was pretty much a male dominated franchise, and in a very stereotypical move, I used to think superheroes are for boys. But now, with Carol Danvers, and many other female superheroes in the MCU, that stigma is finally fading away. Young girls will finally have a strong female superhero to look up to.

Now let’s talk about the woman who plays this coveted role: Brie Larson. She is as much a female icon off screen as she is on screen. The Oscar winning actress does not just play the role of a badass superhero, she is a badass hero in real life too. She is an amazingly outspoken and empowering woman who stands up for what she believes in and encourages people to love and believe in themselves, much like the character she plays. Just a few days ago, fans were trending the hashtag #SelfiesForBrie in honour of the release of the trailer, and Brie happened to notice it on Twitter. She immediately expressed her appreciation for it:

She then proceeded to talk about how much happiness that hashtag brought to her. She also gave a shoutout to her LGBT fans! But she also noticed that some of the tweets under the tag were self deprecating, with fans pointing out the flaws in their faces, and reassured them all that they are beautiful just as they are, and that their flaws are what make them unique and that they should never apologise for it.

When she is not encouraging her fans to love themselves, she is advocating for women’s rights and sexual assault survivors, while also keeping up with the current events and calling out people in the wrong. She is an active member of the #TimesUp initiative, and has expressed her solidarity with Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault from when they were in high school.

She has also called out the misogyny of people who said that she should ‘smile more’ in the Captain Marvel trailer by hilariously photoshopping the faces of her male superhero counterparts, to make it look like they were smiling too. In another case of men and their misogynistic behaviour, Brie Larson was attacked for sharing her story about an unwanted advance by a TSA agent.

Many men tried to turn this situation on her, saying that the guy was just ‘brave enough’ to ask a woman out. Instead of stooping down to their level, Brie decided to shut them all down with just four tweets. And her response was beyond perfect:

“First step: listen. I don’t need you explain why my experience is invalid. I need you to listen because I am not a liar and I have a soul. Second: ask questions. If you don’t understand, believe in us enough to learn more. This can be challenging if our perspectives differ. Third: speak from a place of love. Remember that we are (hopefully) just trying to make the world a safer place for all. Fourth: social media can broaden your world view. It can bring us together to learn. Don’t miss this opportunity to grow in unexpected ways.”

And she doesn’t just call out fans or trolls, she also protests the wrongdoings of her industry peers as well. Back in 2016, she won a well deserved Oscar for her role in The Room, where she played a sexual assault survivor. She even hugged every single sexual assault survivor who performed with Lady Gaga at the Oscars that year. Now as per Oscars tradition, the winner for Best Actor/Actress and Supporting Actor/Actress have to present the award the following year in the same category to the opposite gender. This meant that Brie Larson had to present the award for Best Actor in 2017.

As it so happens, the award for Best Actor that year went to Casey Affleck for his role in Manchester by the Sea. Turns out, Casey Affleck had been accused of sexual assault by two women back in 2010, a lawsuit followed, which he settled out of court. When Brie announced his name on stage, the whole hall stood up and clapped, as you would, when someone receives an Oscar. But Brie stood stoically with her hands by her side, dressed in black, poker faced as she watched Casey accept the award. She did not clap for him, and that was the loudest form of protest you could possibly imagine on a stage like that.

She has also spoken up against the lack of diversity in film critics. When Larson was accepting an award at the 2018 Crystal + Lucy Awards in June, she chose to use her acceptance speech as an outlet to call out the same, according to USA Today, saying,

“I don’t need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work about A Wrinkle in Time. It wasn’t made for him! I want to know what it meant to women of color, biracial women, to teen women of color. Am I saying I hate white dudes? No, I am not. What I am saying is if you make a movie that is a love letter to women of color, there is an insanely low chance a woman of color will have a chance to see your movie, and review your movie.”

This, combined with many other things, is why I say that Brie Larson is a superhero both on and off screen. She never fails to acknowledge the ones who are often ignored and whose voices are often left unheard. And I am extremely excited to see what she brings to the table with her portrayal of Captain Marvel.

Featured image credit: Firstpost 

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