A question often debated in geek circles is: Who is Marvel’s Wonder Woman? This question seemed more relevant back before our current mega-blockbuster superhero movie franchise era, before the Marvel/Disney merger — when DC characters had been household names for decades, but Marvel characters had never really blown up on the big screen, or really anywhere outside of comics. It seemed like there was one missing element: Marvel didn’t have Godlike, traditionally archetypal characters that average viewers could get into, even if comics weren’t their thing. Like, a Wonder Woman.
Geeks could debate this at length, but it seems like Marvel is actually giving us an official answer to the question: Captain Marvel
A bit on the nose, but hey, you can’t really argue with being on-brand! Carol Danvers, formerly Mz.Marvel, will be Marvel’s first female headliner on the big screen. Only about two years behind actual DC Wonder Woman headlining in her own film, so not bad there, Marvel. Captain Marvel is a tough-but-big-hearted blonde with a military background who gets cosmic superpowers and wears a big iconic lightning bolt to represent how dynamic she is, even though she doesn’t have lightning powers, and OH MY GOD I’M SORRY CAROL DANVERS FANS, BUT MARVEL’S WONDER WOMAN IS STORM. THAT IS THE CORRECT ANSWER. SERIOUSLY. JESUS.
Commanding. Noble. Gentle. Storm wields ancient wisdom, sexual agency, and goddamn bolts of lightning.
But by looking at the movies, you wouldn’t know it. In the movie-verse, Storm seems destined to forever be shown… differently. I don’t want to throw shade at Halle Berry - she’s lovely and her sense of humor about being miscast as Storm makes me like her more. But, the fact remains, she was really terribly miscast. And I think Alexandra Shipp plays a fine teen Storm. But… The Storm that deserves to be on screen is a grown woman.
A big, powerful, black woman.
Which, of course, is terrifying to many people.
The rights to decide how Storm is depicted on-screen were sold to Fox back when Marvel was an independent company, struggling to stay afloat. Clearly, Fox saw tremendous value in the portfolio of properties they bought. Wolverine was destined to become a huge presence in the franchise. Professor X and Magneto would become more popular than ever, as the movies portrayed them with tremendous depth. Characters like Mystique and Quicksilver became breakout hits, carrying more of the X-Men’s story than they ever did in the comics. And yet, Storm, who defines the X-Men for many fans – whose presence set the X-Men apart from all other comics – has been little more than a vague supporting character for, now, 5 films. Someone at the top made the decision that the powerful, bold black woman we knew in the comics had no place in this new version of the X-Men.
We’ve got a long, miserable history of devaluing black people. Of denying or obscuring their importance. I don’t want to say the Republican candidate’s name. You know, the loud one with the weird hair? He spent 8 years promoting “birthirism”, relentlessly trying to spread the idea that our first black president doesn’t deserve to be where he is; insinuating that because of where he could have been born, this popular, successful president was somehow illegitimate.
It’s obvious that some folks are struck with a reactionary terror by the idea of black power. Or female power. Any celebration of non-male-white empowerment is treated like a transgression. A challenge.
Fox News predicts thousands to show up at NFL headquarters in protest of Beyonce’s half-time performance: http://bit.ly/2cMMKwc
Three people show up to protest: http://bit.ly/2cDu1oo
Would depicting Storm as a character of goddess-like stature and power have been anathema to Fox?
To a fan/consumer like myself, Fox is perplexing. They can produce films and shows that show progressive values and bring strong black characters to the front. Meanwhile, Fox News has produced some of the most insidiously racist media of our time. Should we be surprised that given the chance to depict one of the most powerful, popular black women in pop culture, they chose to make her more Fox-News-friendly?
In the comics of the 80s, Storm was zapped by a ray that de-powered her. No more flying. No more lightning. The situation only served to make her more badass. She went on to lead the X-Men for years before getting her powers back. She was the embodiment of personal power. The X-films could have had their own Wonder Woman - a game-changing, iconic character that would blow audiences away. Sadly, movie-Storm got de-powered as well. Just in a different way.
By Rogan Josh