Critical Take: Hollywood’s ‘Smug, Mean’ Female Characters and The Marvels’ Box Office Woes

Hollywood’s Female Character Archetypes and The Marvels’ Box Office Struggle

Daily Beast contributor Fredrik deBoer recently penned a critique, claiming that Hollywood’s fixation on ‘smug, mean’ female characters is detrimentally impacting movies, including the lackluster box office performance of The Marvels.

Despite a star-studded cast led by Brie Larson, the film reportedly earned less than $40 million at the box office, marking the lowest for a Disney Marvel Cinematic Universe film.

The Marvels’ Disappointing Box Office Performance

As of Sunday, The Marvels, Disney’s latest MCU installment, faced disappointing box office results. Despite pivots made in response to actor Jonathan Majors’ domestic violence case, the film struggled to attract audiences.

The critic highlighted the film’s presales, which were lower than recent DC Extended Universe releases, The Flash and Black Adam.

Hollywood’s Tired Tropes and Female Characters

DeBoer criticized Hollywood for its tendency to write similar female characters, emphasizing tired tropes that result in characters who insult others without betraying vulnerability.

The piece argued that the industry’s progress in representing women in genre films has led to the creation of a particular archetype—characters who lack genuine dialogue, perpetually deliver tired jokes, and exhibit a lack of vulnerability.

The Marvels’ Behind-the-Scenes Challenges

The article delved into the behind-the-scenes challenges faced by The Marvels, citing extensive reshoots ordered to bring coherence to a tangled storyline.

Director Nia DaCosta described the process as a “trial and error” to incorporate elements from various Marvel projects, turning the film into a sequel to multiple stories within the MCU.

Critique of Captain Marvel’s Characterization

DeBoer expressed dissatisfaction with the portrayal of Brie Larson’s character, Captain Marvel, citing his dislike for the archetype represented by the character—a parody of feminine strength.

He argued against the cliché of a woman who speaks only in insults, condescends to others, and perpetually remains unimpressed, deeming it a regressive portrayal that lacks progress.

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