“You’d look prettier if you smiled”


Bhoomi Sharma, Photography Editor

After “Infinity War” left everyone in tears, Marvel released its next movie – “Captain Marvel.” It was directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and released on March 8, 2019, which also happened to be International Women’s Day. It is the first film in the MCU – the Marvel Cinematic Universe – to have a female superhero as the lead. Reviews came out before the movie hit public theaters,  commenting that it would flop and that Brie Larson was a terrible Captain Marvel. Despite the negative reviews, the movie released with a global box office debut of $455 million, breaking records, and surpassing even Wonder Woman, the DC movie with Gal Gadot as the lead.


The movie takes place in the 1990’s and is centered around the origin story of Captain Marvel, also known as Carol Danvers. Brie Larson, who plays Captain Marvel in the 2019 Marvel movie, has also been receiving comments on her fierce expression on the movie poster. Many are calling the movie a ‘man hating movie’ or t ‘too feminist’; the fact that it’s lead by a powerful woman doesn’t seem right to them. While the movie doesn’t exclusively focus on the fact that she is a woman, there are several moments that all women can relate to — being catcalled at a bar, being told that she needs to calm down or being told to ‘lighten up.’


Larson clapped back to the ‘smile more’ comments by editing posters of male superheroes, like Iron-Man or Doctor Strange, and replacing their fierce expression with smiles. The results highlighted the double standards for female and male superheroes.


The issue doesn’t seem to be with Brie Larson, an Oscar winning actress. Many say that she doesn’t smile enough, that she’s “stiff as cardboard.” That’s not true at all. In fact, Carol Danvers is told several times over the course of the movie that she needs to let go of her sense of humour — that she needs to keep her emotions under control and smile less.  Maybe the problem isn’t that women don’t smile enough — maybe it’s that we’re constantly being expected to smile and look beautiful, no matter the situation, while men can get away with most anything. Being told to ‘smile more’ is something women hear every, single, day. This is just one example. As a society, we should all stop expecting women to take what is thrown at them with a smile. They are human. Women should be allowed to rage, to cry, to scream. Stop expecting women to smile – it’s an action movie.


The problem is that we as a society are too used to seeing movies with a cast that is mostly men, where female characters are at most plot points to help the male protagonist move up in his journey. When we see a movie with well-rounded female characters, that also happens to be centered around a woman, viewers are enraged that there weren’t enough men.  That’s what happens when you get used to privilege. Equality starts to feel like oppression.