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Let’s Talk About Captain Marvel, Feminism and Fragile Fanboys’ Angst (Podcast)

Why do we bother arguing with trolls?

Efforts by some fragile fanboys to sabotage “Captain Marvel” completely failed — but they did succeed in sparking a few fights that aren’t worth having. We talk about it on the latest “Low Key” podcast, which you can listen to on Apple or right here:

Every week on the “Low Key” podcast, co-hosts Aaron Lanton, Keith Dennie and I talk about pop culture moments we think others have missed. We’re comic-book nerds, and not impressed by the attacks on “Captain Marvel” by a small number of our fellow male fans.

Before “Captain Marvel” even opened, trolls targeted it on Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb and YouTube, spurring all three to make changes designed to screen out attacks from people who hadn’t actually seen the film.

“Captain Marvel” beat the trolls handily, opening to $153 million domestically and $455 million worldwide. It is likely to be one of the fastest films to hit $1 billion at the box office.

But why were some men so threatened by a superhero movie?

In part it was because Brie Larson, who plays Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, opined in 2016: “I do not need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’ … It wasn’t made for him.” She also told “Entertainment Tonight” that she had talked to Marvel about “Captain Marvel” being “a big feminist movie.”

Trolls cause lots of problems. But one of the less-obvious ones is the way they drive people to take extreme positions that divide us all.

In the case of “Captain Marvel,” they treated a female-fronted superhero movie as an existential threat to men. That led other fans to celebrate “Captain Marvel” more vigorously than they otherwise might have. And that, in turn, made the film a more attractive target.

Was it really a game-changer? Was it a perfect embodiment of feminism? Was it flawless in every regard?

Were we really going to have this argument?

No movie should bear the responsibilities some viewers tried to attach to “Captain Marvel.”

It shouldn’t have to prove itself to anyone.

Like dozens of movies that come out every year, “Captain Marvel” is a perfectly entertaining movie that didn’t blow our minds. We liked it. We didn’t love it. A lot of people paid money to see it, and it’s a huge success.

But the trolling has turned Carol Danvers’ story into a battle in the culture wars. And we should choose our battles carefully.

Trolls shouldn’t turn a fun superhero movie into a fight. But we don’t have to be baited into vigorously defending movies we aren’t that passionate about.

Let the box-office success do the talking.

We want more female-centered superhero movies, so “Wonder Woman” and “Captain Marvel” won’t be burdened with being the only representatives of super womankind, held up to a ridiculous standard of perfection that no one demands of “Aquaman” or or even the “Man of Steel.”

No movie should bear the responsibility for representing every woman’s experience, or every black person’s experience, or anything beyond the story it sets out to tell.

We also talk, of course, about what the flerken really did to Nick Fury, and a few other comics we can’t wait to see on the screen. Helloooooo, “Lady Killer.”

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