Although Evangeline Lilly's Hope van Dyne shared the same billing as Paul Rudd's Scott Lang this past summer in Ant-Man and the Wasp, next year's Captain Marvel will mark the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first solo superheroine-led movie. As the penultimate chapter of the Phase 3 film slate, Captain Marvel will turn the clock back to the 1990s to show Carol Danvers serving on the Starforce military team and protecting Earth as it gets caught in the middle of the conflict between the Kree and Skrulls. As for why it took so long for Marvel Studios to release its first female-led movie, the studio's president, Kevin Feige, gave the following explanation:
I think there are a lot of reasons. Not the least of which was fighting for many years the erroneous notion that audiences did not want to see a female-led hero [film] because of a slew of films 15 years ago that didn't work. And my belief was always that they didn't work not because they were female-led stories --- they didn't work because they were not particularly good movies.
While there have been female-led superhero movies in the past, such as Supergirl and gulp Catwoman, within the modern boom of the genre, it's mostly been driven by male-led movies, with the occasional ensemble adventure thrown in. The DC Extended Universe delivered on the female-led front with Wonder Woman last year, and Captain Marvel will be the MCU's first. While Kevin Feige admitted that part of this was due to some believing that a superheroine movie wouldn't be successful, in his mind, he never wanted to give audiences a subpar product. But eventually Captain Marvel came along and finally offered the chance to do this right, and don't think the solo superheroine endeavors will stop with Carol Danvers. As Feige also mentioned in his conversation with EW:
With [Ant-Man and The Wasp] and now with Captain Marvel and many movies to be announced in the near future, I'm anxious for the time where it's not a novelty that there is a female-led superhero movie, but it is a norm. And it is less a story of, 'Oh, look, a female hero,' and it's more a story of, 'Oh, what's this about? Who's this character? I'm excited to see that.' And I think we can get there.
The MCU has slowly built up its lineup of heroines, from Black Widow and Scarlet Witch to Gamora and Okoye, but Captain Marvel marks a progressive step forward for the franchise, and Kevin Feige's comment indicate things will only improve from year. As far as what's been publicly discussed, a Black Widow movie to be directed by Cate Shortland is in development, and various MCU actresses have expressed interest in seeing an all-female Avengers movie. Of course, several of Marvel's superheroines and female protagonists already have their feet planted in the TV realm, but there are plenty more still waiting to be introduced (like She-Hulk), especially once the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties are incorporated into the MCU.
Captain Marvel hits theaters on March 8, 2019, and two months after that, Carol Danvers will fly back into action and team up with the MCU's other surviving heroes in Avengers 4.