Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Brie Larson as Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel & Wonder Woman: Analyzing Female Superheroes

In a time when we are being blessed with a myriad of heroines to look up to, we can also be limited by our deep-rooted love for our distinct fandoms. So let me make one thing clear… this is not a Marvel vs. DC bash piece. We all know where my loyalties lie but for the sake of journalism, let’s take a look at the journey both of these incredible women have been through.

Origin Story

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman made her debut in All-Star Comics #8 in October of 1941 and would go on to have her first feature just 3 months later. It could be said for most of our favorites, that comic origins can get a little fuzzy, especially when navigating through multi-verses so after much digging we can at least come to some basic conclusion about her origins.

She’s an Amazonian princess of Themyscira. Queen Hippolyta molded Diana (Wonder Woman) from clay, at least in her comic’s origins.  Later, DC ended up going a different way and have her be the love child of Hippolyta and Zeus and I’m not mad at about it. (You can’t see me but I’m totally rolling my eyes.)

Regardless of artistic rights, there was also a lot of information about how Marston’s idea came from the feminists of the time and even spawned its own show “Professor Martson and the Wonder Woman.” So it’s exciting seeing not only the fictional life of Wonder Woman coming to the screen but now also the “based on real life” origin story as well.  

Wonder Woman/Diana Price has almost been a household name for as long as I can remember. She was one of my first lunch boxes as a girl. Though she may be well known. We can’t neglect to give a little acknowledgment to the latest breakout heroine, Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel

Carol Danvers, our Captain Marvel, made her comic debut in March 1968. At that point, she was an air force pilot and colleague of the Kree hero Mar-Vell (the original Captain Marvel). She would later become Ms. Marvel after her DNA was fused with Mar-vell’s blood during an explosion. That explosion of a Kree device actually resulted in Ms. Danvers becoming a human-Kree hybrid. It wouldn’t be until July 2012 that Danvers would become Captain Marvel in Avenging Spider-man #9.

Like Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel has been said to be also quite socially progressive for its time. In Marvel: Women of the 70’s, we not only can see that using the Ms. in the title was making a statement but also the fact that Danvers was already starting to fight for equal pay and equal rights. Both creators [Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel] took a chance on creating these tough, strong-minded, intelligent heroines in order to break the mold and both of these characters are doing just that, no matter the media.

Powers

Captain Marvel

Both women are masterfully trained and skilled in various forms of combat. Captain Marvel had her Air Force training even before the accident gave her Kree powers. Wonder Woman trained in both ancient and modern combat techniques and has Amazonian only battle secrets as well. Throw in superhero strength, flying, endurance, and speed, these heroines are actually quite similar. Their difference, however inconsequential they may be really lie in their origin stories.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman not only had the lifelong training in combat and the weaponized accessories (I mean a Golden Lasso and bullet reflecting cuffs … cute) but hello, she was also nigh-invulnerable and almost immortal. Yay to being blessed by a god or being a demigod. (Again … depends on the origin story) Batman even called her the “best melee fighter in the world” in Justice League of America (vol. 2) #13 (Nov. 2007). What people don’t always look at as one of Diana’s gifts or “powers” is the fact that she’s got a really good head on her shoulders. She’s a scientist and a physician (shining an early light on the future of women in stem maybe?). Marston was so smart in writing this character that broke off from the norm and set out to help others with her god(s) given gifts but also with … and not to sound cheesy but knowledge. It’s like the Neil Gaiman quote about the princess saving herself. This princess not only saves herself but goes out and saves others. Bet Mr. Gaiman totally respects Ms. Price.

Danvers has the military training and the added bonus of flight and can survive in the vacuum of space. So that’s neat. She’s also had what’s referred to as a “seventh sense.” Some versions of Wonder Woman throughout the years have eluded to Diana having the same sort of telepathy. And though Danvers can also absorb and project energy, it seems doing so with magic doesn’t come without its own complications as discovered in Ms. Marvel vol. 2, #5 (September 2006). So with the ability to travel at the speed of light, visit many different planets, and various different alien species, our Captain Marvel has the chance to absorb all that knowledge for the greater good. Hate to even put this out there, but she’s kind of Marvel’s Wonder Woman isn’t she?

Movies

One thing I actually did not know until researching for this article is that the DCEU really did Diana’s origin story well. While researching (and I hate to admit I went to wiki on this one) I found that though some things seemed maybe skimmed over or rushed through, they really seemed to keep it as close as possible to the All-Stars Comics issue. I may have given DC a little grief when it comes to their cinematography but I will always give props where props are deserved. (Props? Kudos? Is props even a word anymore?) So don’t @ me because they could have done a lot worse.

What Critics Have Said

This film, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, tells an interesting story that cleverly combines genre elements into something reasonably fresh, touching and fun.

A.O. Scott, The NY Times

The gushing reviews of Wonder Woman suggest that people are grading on a big curve, but the limpness of the storytelling is certainly preferable to the whacking pacing of other movies of its ilk.

David Edelstein, Vulture

With a few mixed reviews at first, Wonder Woman ended up coming in at $821 million in the box office. It seemed lots of fans were ready to give up on the DCEU cinematically but this was just fresh enough to save those of us that were about to hop off the fence. It definitely left us wanting more and hoping there’s even more improvement in the next.

Captain Marvel is currently at $1.1 billion in the box office worldwide, $425 million of which is from domestic box office sales. This movie has been getting an almost 50/50 split of good and bad reviews and it’s been an interesting journey to see.

There’s a fundamental dissonance between the depth of her plight and the shallow disorganization of the script.

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

The movie itself is spotty, but it gets better as it goes along. That’s not hard, since the opening scene on the planet Hala is weightless and the subsequent battle sequence poorly staged and shot.

David Edelstein, Vulture

Overall, it seems that women are here for it though. How could we not be? Any kind of non-princess representation is kind of awesome. No offense to Princess Diana of Themyscira, it’s sometimes just neat to see what can be done with a civilian though. Danvers didn’t ask for her powers. Not if we are going by the Kree explosion origin story. She was just a kick butt Air Force pilot that happened upon some Kree DNA and boom, now she knows kung fu. (Ok not exactly how it happened but give me a break here.)

So which one is better?

If you came here looking for my analysis about who is the better superhero or who kicks more butt… you will be sadly disappointed. As a society, I think we pit women against each other enough and as nerdy fandoms, we tend to pit our fandom beliefs against each other as well. Marvel is better because we have the Hulk. DC is better because … well … because we have Wonder Woman. I get it, it’s great to wear your team colors and talk about who’s mom can beat up who’s. (Wait … is that not a game people play?)

As much as I have bagged on DC movies, and there were things I didn’t like about Wonder Woman overall it was a great movie. Though Captain Marvel had some really tough critics and I would normally prefer Marvel over DC … I honestly can’t pick which one of these movies I liked better. I mean … not without a proper pro/con list at least. I think the greatest take away from both of these movies, and both of these characters is the strong female leads we are seeing from both franchises. It’s setting a tone for our daughters to have warriors, generals, and extraordinary civilians to look up to as their heroes. We are seeing more and more young girls looking at science and technology with excited and hopeful eyes. My own daughters run into the Disney store and head straight for the Captain Marvel stuff with squeals that rivaled my own when I used to find new The Little Mermaid merchandise.

For now, I will sit here hopelessly daydreaming of all the other great female heroines that both these great franchises can bring to their cinematic universes. It’s fun to imagine all our favorites getting their well-deserved origin stories brought to life.

If you could pick any female heroine from the DC or Marvel universes who would you pick? Leave us a comment below.

Sign up to get news, announcements, and other fun stuff straight to your inbox.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Featured image credit: DC Studios and Marvel Entertainment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.