The Brie Larson-led Marvel Studios sequel is in theaters now and has been met with the vitriol of particular corners of the internet.
After Captain Marvel debuted to widespread review-bombing because of its female lead, the reaction to The Marvels looks no different.
Audiences' "wokeness" complaints about the blockbuster (which have been present since the movie's first trailer) seem to be stemming from the prominence of women in the film (including women of color like Iman Vellani, Teyonah Parris, and Nawe Ashton) and the 'emasculation' of its male characters.
The Marvels' Director Breaks Down 'Woke' Complaints
In a new interview with Variety, Nia DaCosta (the director behind The Marvels) broke down her super-powered blockbuster being called 'woke' by some moviegoers.
DaCosta remarked that she is familiar with the dark side of fandom but chooses to engage with "the side of the light:"
“There are pockets where you go because you’re like, ’I’m a super fan. I want to exist in the space of just adoration — which includes civilized critique. Then there are pockets that are really virulent and violent and racist — and sexist and homophobic and all those awful things. And I choose the side of the light. That’s the part of fandom I’m most attracted to.”
The filmmaker does not seem to be interested in these sorts of toxic bad actors, even seemingly provoking them at points.
One of the primary musical milieus used in the film was the Beastie Boys' 1998 hit "Intergalactic," a song in which one of the first lines reads, "Well, now, don’t you tell me to smile."
When asked if this was a direct commentary on the line from Captain Marvel where a slimy biker-type asked Brie Larson's MCU hero, " You got a smile for me,” The Marvels director responded, "That’s the first time I’ve realized that those lines are in the song:"
“That’s the first time I’ve realized that those lines are in the song. I cannot say that that was on purpose on my part. Sorry to be disappointing.”
Why The Marvels' 'Wokeness' Is a Good Thing
As has been the case with other MCU filmmakers being dubbed 'woke' by particular corners of the internet, Nia DaCosta is not giving these bad apples the light of day.
The franchise has even gone as far as to satirize these silly sorts of sexist comments.
While there is always a place for justified criticism - and DaCosta seems ready to partake in that sort of discourse - this 'wokeness' conversation is one rooted in sexism, racism, and general prejudice.
Ms. Marvel producer Sana Amanat previously said that this sort of toxic hate "comes from a place of anger." If these fans "can’t connect with it, then that’s OK:"
“I think it comes from a place of anger and a sense that their identities are being threatened. If they can’t connect with it, then that’s OK. I just wish they wouldn’t try to put it down."
That is the key point to take away from here. The world is better when stories are not just told from the same perspective over and over again. If a character looks different from the moviegoer, then it allows one to see the world through other people's eyes.
And with characters like Carol Danvers or Ms. Marvel, people who may not have ever felt represented on the big screen, now have something they can point to. They finally have heroes that look just like them gracing a blockbuster on the scale of a Marvel Studios production.
While Brie Larson's last super-powered outing, Captain Marvel, received similar hate, people like her co-star Samuel L. Jackson were quick to point out just how important her Marvel Studios work is.
Representation matters, and a diverse MCU is a better MCU.
The Marvels is now playing in theaters worldwide.