Update: This article was updated and reformated after Instincters brought forth more information concerning the issue.
Are some Marvel fans seriously demanding that Brie Larson act on her words of advocacy or are they simply trolling? As with most things, it’s a mixture of both.
Academy-Award winner Brie Larson is an open advocate for diversity and inclusivity within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Hollywood as a whole. But it looks like some of her words have pulled the unwanted attention of some Marvel fans.
While speaking to Variety and iHeartMedia’s Big Ticket podcast in April, Larson said:
“I’m happy to be on the forefront of the normalization of this type of content and to prove once again that representation matters. Diverse storytelling matters, the female experience matters, and these are markers.”
She then added:
“I don’t understand how you could think that a certain type of person isn’t allowed to be a superhero. So to me it’s like, we gotta move faster. But I’m always wanting to move faster with this stuff.”
While this is a mindset that Marvel Studios executive Victoria Alonso shares, some Marvel fans are not so accepting. In fact, it seems that they’re willing to create a campaign against her for having it.
A new petition has arisen titled Demand Captain Marvel is Played By a Woman of Color, Not Brie Larson! So far, more than 11,000 people have signed the petition and asked that Brie Larson step down so that she can actively contribute to that diversity she talks about.
“We need Brie Larson to step down from her role to prove she is an ally of social justice and ensure a gay woman of color plays the role. Let Monica, the original female & BLACK Captain Marvel instead of white-washing characters for the benefit of the straight, white men running Disney.”
“She hasn’t donated money to any charity other than The Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation (https://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/brie-larson) and it’s time for her to show she is not all-talk.”
The Monica mentioned by this petition is the character Monica Rambeau. In the comics, Rambeau was the second person to take on the name of Captain Marvel. In addition, she was the first woman to do so. In that sense, there is an argument in saying that film Rambeau should appear first like in the comics. That said, the Carol Danvers character, who later swapped out her own superhero name of Ms. Marvel for Captain Marvel, is more well-known by today’s mainstream audience.
The Captain Marvel film, which took place in the 90s, introduced Monica Rambeau as an 11-year-old played by Akira Akbar. As such, there is the chance that an adult Monica is walking around waiting to become a hero. (Or, is already out being one). That would, however, create an unnecessary trend of white MCU heroes passing down their titles to black heroes once they’ve retired.
But is Brie Larson the problem? Is it right to blame and challenge her? Or are Robert Iger and Kevin Feige, “the straight, white men running Disney” and Marvel, the problem for jumping over Monica to Carol Danvers in the first place? Should Larson stepdown in order to right the wrongs of others?
This situation seems to be ringing the same tune of other stories in today’s social climate. It seems every other month we hear stories of straight actors being cast in gay roles and see internet users (usually on Twitter) asking for a change of casting. In addition, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia is currently in controversy over students petitioning to have a white, female teacher fired so that a queer person of color can take her place.
— self-proclaimed jai 🇦🇲🇺🇾 (@quinticfunction) May 5, 2019
4Chan & The “Fake” Petition
It appears, however, that this situation is more about pushback to calls for diversity and inclusion than a misguided attempt at it. The petition was created by users of the infamous forum 4chan. They created the petition with the hopes of creating a negative campaign against Brie Larson.
Though, there is some truth to the petition’s specified mission. While some are surely signing the petition to make a joke out of calls for inclusivity and “Social Justice Warrior” rhetoric, the petition was also earnestly made to call out Brie Larson on hypocrisy.
As the above screenshot shows, one 4chan user comments saying, “Petition for Brie Larson to commit to ‘social justice’ for real, get the hypocrisy on display.” And, again, the petition says that Larson hasn’t donated to any charities besides The Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation.
So, it appears that this petition’s purpose is a mixture of both trolling and earnest calls for advocacy. Just in a very misguided, and frankly hateful, way.
The Journey To Representation
Many fans, to this day, still feel underrepresented by entertainment media. And while we should still crusade to change that, we should also acknowledge that the subject’s a tricky minefield.
Unfortunately, polar extremes can make that conversation even harder to have. Either you have SJW’s adamantly fighting for inclusivity to the point of being oppressive themselves or you have people like these petitioners who pushback and belittle the entire process.
At the end of the day, a woman became a target, gay black women became the butt of a joke, and no good came out of the situation. At the end of the day, conversations about inclusivity, diversity, and representation have become one step harder to have. And unfortunately, that means this petition was a grave success.