“Captain Marvel,” the first Marvel superhero installment featuring a female lead, earned $455 million worldwide during its opening weekend ― the highest box-office debut for any female-fronted movie and the sixth-highest global opening weekend overall, according to Variety.
The movie, starring Brie Larson and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, also achieved the all-time biggest box-office debut for a movie directed or co-directed by a woman.
The movie’s success again shows that audiences want to see films that are more representative of themselves. The domestic total of $153 million is Marvel’s second-highest opening for a movie centered on a new character, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The highest is last year’s “Black Panther,” the first Marvel installment featuring a black lead character.
Movie industry executives in the past dismissed movies about women and people of color— traditionally underrepresented in mainstream Hollywood works — perpetuating the myth that they don’t succeed at the box office.
But “Captain Marvel” continues a streak of box-office juggernauts about women and people of color.
Larson noted last month how movies that are landmarks for representation, like “Captain Marvel,” often come with the weight of huge expectations, with a lot riding on their successes or failures.
“I know it’s exciting and fun to be like, ‘Will it sink or will it float?’ ‘What’s going to happen?’ ‘Can women exist in the world?’ ‘We’re not sure yet!’ But women have been opening movies since the silent era,” Larson told The Hollywood Reporter. “We have been part of every major art movement. People just push us away once the movement gains momentum and act like we were never really there.”
As with many female-led blockbusters in recent years, sexist trolls tried to torpedo “Captain Marvel” even before its release, which led review-aggregating site Rotten Tomatoes to change its policy, restricting comments and reviews until a movie is released.
“Captain Marvel,” along with DC Comics’ “Wonder Woman” in 2017, has been heralded as a landmark for female representation in superhero movies.
Last fall, a study from the Women’s Media Center and BBC America found that female superhero characters can help girls and young women self-identify with positive descriptors like “strong,” “brave,” “confident” and “motivated.”
Nearly two-thirds of the study participants, girls aged 10 to 19, said that in movies and television, they don’t see enough “female role models,” “strong female characters” or “relatable female characters.”