Brie Larson wants to save her Captain Marvel press tour from being 'overwhelmingly white'
The superhero actor is giving more women of colour and other underrepresented critics greater access
In the upcoming film Captain Marvel, Brie Larson will star as the next superhero to hit the big screen, but the actor is using her newfound powers — namely the massive attention the role carries — to put female and underrepresented critics at the front of the line.
Captain Marvel will be the first film from the juggernaut Marvel Studios to be fronted by a female superhero, and the anticipation for it is huge. The first Captain Marvel trailer has already been watched more than 50 million times since it came out four months ago, making it the eighth most popular trailer on Marvel Studio's YouTube channel.
In the film, out on March 8, Larson plays Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, a U.S. Air Force officer turned superhero tasked with fighting a militaristic alien race. But while promoting the film, Larson has chosen to make her press days more inclusive, actively granting more access to women and women of colour so that the coverage isn't predominantly from the white male perspective.
"About a year ago, I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male," Larson told Marie Claire journalist Keah Brown, a Black journalist with cerebral palsy, who was given the first interview for the film.
"After speaking with you, the film critic Valerie Complex and a few other women of colour, it sounded like across the board they weren't getting the same opportunities as others," she told Brown. "When I talked to the facilities that weren't providing it, they all had different excuses."
It's a cause that's not new to Larson, who has been vocal in her support for a more diverse film industry, especially critics. This past summer, while accepting a Crystal + Lucy award, a fundraiser for women in film, Larson took the moment to address what she says was "an issue that's been bubbling," meaning the lack of inclusivity amongst film critics.
"I do not need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn't work for him about Wrinkle in Time," she said (fast forward to 30 seconds to see part of her speech below). "It wasn't made for him. I want to know what it meant to women of colour, to biracial women, to teen women of colour, to teens that are biracial."
The speech happened just days after the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which is led by Dr. Stacy L. Smith and has spurred initiatives such as the inclusion rider, released a report that looked at reviews of the top grossing films of the year and concluded they were written mostly by white men. After examining some 20,000 reviews, the report found that 63.9 percent of them were by white men, 18.1 percent were by white women, with just 13.8 percent being written by underrepresented men and 4.1 percent by underrepresented women.
Larson, who had worked with the Annenberg Initiative to make that report happen, is now setting out to give that 4.1 percent a bigger chance when it comes to covering a major studio picture. She's also been advocating for better representation on red carpets, junkets and at film festivals, including Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF, for its part, added 174 diverse critics to its 2018 festival, and at Sundance last month, 63 percent if its critics were from underrepresented groups.
"I want to go out of my way to connect the dots," Larson told Marie Claire's Brown. "It just took me using the power that I've been given now as Captain Marvel."
However, upon the release of the new issue, which has Larson on the cover, Brown found herself under attack on social media, with some questioning her credentials and claiming that the interview was granted based on race and gender rather than merit.
"Everything I have, I've earned and I don't need pity to secure a bag," Brown wrote on Twitter. "I was the best journalist for that cover and that's why I was chosen. Cry about it."
I’ve done interviews w/your faves&your secret faves (the ones you pretend to hate online but would fawn over in public.) Everything I have, I’ve earned and I don’t need pity to secure a bag. I was the best journalist for that cover and that’s why I was chosen. Cry about it.💁🏾—@Keah_Maria
In the interview, Brown also told Larson "it's the biggest opportunity I've had. Nobody usually wants to take a chance on a disabled journalist."
Larson, for her part has clarified in the past that she doesn't have anything against white men covering her films.
"I don't hate white dudes," she said during that same speech at the Crystal + Lucy awards. "I'm just saying we need to be conscious of our bias and do our part to make sure everyone is in the room. It really sucks that reviews matter, but reviews matter."
While critics' reviews for Captain Marvel won't come out until March, users have already been taking to Rotten Tomatoes in the past few days to express their disinterest in the film as well as Larson's initiative.
"Do you want [social justice warrior] nonsense to infect the Marvel universe and rot it from the inside out like Star Wars, Star Trek, Mass Effect, Battlefield? Because this is how you get that," wrote one user. Another simply said, "Not interested in supporting Brie Larson's agenda."
Captain Marvel comes out in theatres March 8. Will you be seeing it? Let us know in the comments.