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Marvel fans continue to await the 2018 arrival of its first female-led feature in Captain Marvel. While the devastating do-gooder has been a longtime part of the comic book landscape, the character’s feature film debut is nevertheless loaded with logistical and political baggage. For the two women currently writing the script, those issues have apparently provided quite the creative challenge.
In an interview with Wired, writer Nicole Perlman, who is co-authoring Captain Marvel with Inside Out scribe Meg LeFauve, describes the difficulty of navigating the vexing variables of feminist politics and narrative clichés. While Perlman is no stranger to huge typewritten tasks, having co-written Guardians of the Galaxy, this upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe entry has proven to be quite the conundrum. The portrayal of the film’s super-powered namesake, Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel approaches a difficult array of archetypes. As Perlman states on the writing process with LeFauve,
We have this constant back-and-forth about how to tell a story that is compelling, entertaining, moving, kick-ass, and fun, and also be aware of what those larger implications might be. It’s a lot more complicated than just writing Guardians.
The ambivalence is certainly understandable, given not only the supremely powerful nature of the Carol Danvers character, but how she could potentially be tailored into the intricately shaped MCU. Her origin story is a rather conventional one as far as comic books go, with Danvers being an Air Force intelligence officer who is injured by an explosion attributed to a mysterious device from the blue-hued MCU-established alien race known as the Kree. As if bombarded by some cosmic equivalent of gamma rays, the explosion left Danvers with quite the favorable cocktail of incredible powers with flight, energy-projection, super-strength, super-durability and has even been known to experiences sporadic precognitive flashes. Since then, her comic book journey has hit several peaks and valleys.
There has actually been a plethora of comic book heroes in the past, both male and female who have carried the "Captain Marvel" moniker. In fact, from a technical standpoint, it is also the proper nome de guerre of DC Comics’ upcoming movie treatment star, Shazam. However, the ever-evolving arc of Carol Danvers, who was introduced in the comic book lore in 1977 as "Ms. Marvel," culminated when she assumed the Captain Marvel mantle in 2012. As it stands, Danvers is contemporarily portrayed as being a brilliant, accomplished military mind and a powerful badass. From the standpoint of crafting a protagonist with which average moviegoers can identify, being "too much" could be problematic.
Consequently, Nicole Perlman cites that one of the main difficulties in capturing Danvers’ essence is portraying her strength of character while avoiding having her newly-acquired physical powers make her come across one-dimensionally, or, as she puts it, "Superman with boobs." Such an idea could be seen as both a hyperbolic male fetish fantasy, as well as an unproductively self-indulgent type of feminism. Either scenario could prove to be a setback for the current drought of poignant female protagonists.
However, if there is ever a duo with a proven recent track record on understanding the critically complex character dynamics of comic book heroes, it’s Perlman and LeFauve. While it has even yet to name a director or cast its star, Captain Marvel has fans anxiously waiting out the next three years to see how this glass-ceiling shattering entry into the MCU will take shape when it hits theaters on November 2, 2018.