The reports that Brie Larson could be taking on the role of Carol Danvers, a.k.a Captain Marvel, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is exciting.
Not only because it's yet another Oscar-winning actor joining the fray — let's not forget that Ben Kingsley, Robert Redford, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Tommy Lee Jones, and so many more all exist in the MCU — but because this version of Captain Marvel is a fairly new addition to the Marvel mythos.
Superhero comics have a long, sad history of exaggerated anatomy and shockingly dysfunctional costumes for its female superheroes. The disparity between male versus female costumes is well documented, but there has been a definite progressive shift in the past few years as function has begun to overtake sex appeal in mainstream comics.
Some characters have a reason for both — Catwoman or Black Cat, for instance — but a character like Carol Danvers, officer of the US Air Force, never seemed like she should be sporting around in something like this:
There's still a long way to go for the way most female superheroes are drawn, but Marvel's reimagining of Carol Danvers into Captain Marvel, led by creators Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy, was a huge first step toward proving that progression was not only necessary, but inevitable.
Change Is Good
Gone was the spray-on, form-fitting spandex, and in its place a realistic uniform that looked like it was actually draped on a person's body instead of acting as saran wrap.
Released in the summer of 2012, Captain Marvel was one of the titles that helped steer the company toward its Marvel NOW! initiative that reinvigorated its line with similarly revamped approaches to the characters. It paved the way for diverse new heroes like the teenage Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, the gay teenage Latin-American Miss America Chavez, and the all-female Avengers team known as A-Force.
But there was a more obvious physical change that began to emerge as a result of Carol's new costume, which did away with the absurd swimsuit design of Ms. Marvel and created something more suited to the character, yet still incorporated her legacy with the inclusion of her signature sash and felt true to her Air Force background.
Other female heroes started getting more practical looks, too — Valkyrie did away with her "boob armor" over in Fearless Defenders, Psylocke in Uncanny X-Force, Medusa and She-Hulk in FF, and Storm in X-Men. All of these changes managed to mirror that of Captain Marvel — still definitively the heroes we know and love, but with a modern update that feels less like an adolescent male's fantasy and more like a function-first uniform.
Still A Ways to Go
There are still problems with female depictions in comics and pop culture in general; blogs like Escher Girls and The Hawkeye Initiative take great pride in pointing out how ridiculous the whole thing is, but in doing so raise awareness for fans and artists alike.
Comic book fans are notorious for begrudging change, but the fact that Carol's new look was so universally accepted, quickly becoming a headlining superhero for the Marvel Universe — she's getting her own film, after all — is a testament to how fandom is ready and willing to accept changes that are logical to the characters and how they're presented.
Captain Marvel is currently scheduled for release July 6, 2018.