The Bechdel Test is a way to gauge female representation within a movie where viewers stay on the lookout throughout a film to see if two female characters ever have a conversation solely with each other, and the conversation cannot be about a man. Unsurprisingly, Marvel movies almost never pass the test.
That changed with this most recent "Captain Marvel" movie. Not only does it feature a strong female lead, but includes many strong female characters, and doesn't even force a love interest on the protagonist Carol.
Needless to say, I was living for it in the theater. However, I couldn't help but be reminded of the "Wonder Woman" fiasco of 2017.
It seemed like I was the only one that saw the glaring issues with this movie. While this movie does pass the Bechdel Test and has incredible representation for women, I was not as enraptured as the majority of viewers seemed to be.
While many have adamantly insisted that the two shouldn't be compared, that's totally ignorant considering the long history of comparing DC to Marvel characters, their powers and the drama they experience. Moreover, comparing the two allows producers to be more conscientious of the twos' strengths and weaknesses to be applied or avoided in the future.
For one, the plot in "Wonder Woman" was barely memorable. The protagonist Diana had been trained in seclusion among an all-female community to become a warrior when a pilot crash landed there and told them of war. Hearing of the challenge and the chance to prove herself, Diana leaves to test her strength in unknown odds.
On paper, this seems interesting, unique, and full of adventure—which, in the form of a comic book, it certainly was. With a setting like World War II, how could you mess that up? But whether it was due to the directing, production or casting, the major points of the movie are fuzzy at best, with little chance of action sequences, intense emotional revelations or even anyone besides the two main characters being remembered. Definitely not a movie you'd want to watch again.
With that said, it seems like they really did try. Unlike in the Marvel universe, Diane has may intense fight scenes and is unaided by other supernatural beings, even defeats another on her own. However, for a feminist character who uses femininity as a strength, I don't understand the urban myth that she wasn't sexualized.
The character was created originally by DC to be sexual, even making her bisexual to achieve that aim. They couldn't do too much with her costume to totally eradicate that, but even the casting of Gal Godot was choice in that she is extremely sexy. I do believe she did an incredible job with the role and the tools she was given, but this casting was still nothing short of significant.
The thing that struck me most though?
She wasn't even the one to save the day.
The whole movie began and ended with Steve, her functional sidekick. Steve alerted her secluded island of the war, aided her in attaining information and finding allies, then was the big war hero, flying a plane out of harm's way to keep toxic gas from devastating the allies, giving up his own life in the process.
The whole time, Wonder Woman stood idly by and watched it happen.
Frankly, they turned her into a big sissy—a damsel in distress that couldn't finish the job she had come to do without the help of a man.
While she did go on to defeat the mastermind behind the plot, Steve's sacrifice undermined that victory.
I was angry then, and two years later I'm still angry and baffled at how much support the movie received. Although it wasn't altogether bad, it still wasn't nearly everything that people claimed it to be.
Captain Marvel was the polar opposite of Wonder Woman, acting as the leader for the downtrodden, bringer of justice for the underdogs, and defender of the things she loved. And she did so single-handedly for the most part, defeating an even more terrifying and powerful foe than Diana ever could. Though I was a bit shaky on the casting at first, since Brie Larson traditionally plays more of a girl-next-door, I think she handled the role beautifully.
I'm happy little kids everywhere get to see the obvious message "Captain Marvel" never strayed from while enjoying an entertaining movie to boot, but also the chance to see a woman being a true bada*s, without the crutch of a big strong man that she daydreams about years later.