Saved events

ScreenTalks Archive: Captain Marvel - and Will Women Save The Day?

Shot of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel
12 Oct 2021
30 min listen

We switch it up for this week's episode and revisit a panel discussion on female superheroes, which celebrated the release of Captain Marvel in March 2019.

Hosted by Barbican curator Sonia Zadurian, our panel included Helen O'Hara, the long time Empire magazine contributor and author of 'women vs. Hollywood', Lisa Purse professor of film at the University of Reading, and comic book artist Rachael Stott, who has worked on superhero titles including Supergirl and Black Panther's younger sister Shuri. 

Between them, these three women know just about everything there is to know about the past, present and future female superheroes on screen. You'll hear the panel discuss the landmark for representation that was Captain Marvel's release, and its implications for the wider franchise of interconnected Marvel Comics-based content. 

The Barbican ScreenTalks Archive podcast is presented by Ellen E Jones and produced by Jane Long for Loftus Media. Listen to more episodes on: 

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Acast or wherever you find your podcasts. 

‘Captain Marvel gives us a female hero who is really powerful in the same way as the men. She takes up space. ‘


Ellen E Jones: Welcome to the Barbican ScreenTalks Archive podcast. In this episode we're switching things up a bit from our usual filmmaker Q&A is. Instead we're bringing you a recording of our 'Will women save the day' panel discussion on female superheroes, which celebrated the release of Captain Marvel in March 2019. Panel hosts Sonia Zadurian is joined by Helen O'Hara, the long time Empire magazine contributor and author of 'women vs. Hollywood'. Lisa Purse professor of film at the University of Reading, and comic book artist Rachael Stott, who has worked on superhero titles including Supergirl and Black Panther's younger sister Shuri. 

Between them these three women know just about everything there is to know about the past, present and future female superheroes on screen. You'll hear the panel discuss the landmark for representation that was Captain Marvel's release, and its implications for the wider franchise of interconnected Marvel Comics-based content. For those not familiar, this is known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, for short. There have been other big female-led superhero movies before Brie Larson took on the Captain Marvel mantle.

Gal Gadot first starred as DC Comics icon Wonder Woman in 2017. But Captain Marvel was a particularly big deal. Its release was preceded by a new kind of negative publicity campaign that played out on Twitter and review aggregate sites Rotten Tomatoes.

Why aresome Marvel fanboys, and they are mostly boys, willing to go to such lengths to torpedo a film they've never seen? What is it about the mere idea of a female superhero that gets some people so riled up? Our panel grapples with that here too. Prompted by an audience question, they also discussed the difference between strong female characters and complex female characters, and the significance of the film behind the film, Top Gun. 

And they look forward to emerging Marvel female heroes like Ms. Marvel, aka Muslim teenager Kamala Khan. It's not all about the women though. Marvel creator Stan Lee, who famously cameoed in every MCU film until his death in 2018 gets a mention of course, they also talk about the progress Marvel is making and not making in other underrepresented areas, including with LGBT+ identities and different body types. Now that Marvel's first female superhero was finally shot up into the stratosphere, what's next on the horizon? 

I'm Ellen E Jones, and this is Barbican ScreenTalk on Captain Marvel and the women who save the day.
Sonia Zadurian: I hope you all enjoyed that and have started thinking of questions for our lovely panel, I'm going to ask some first, before you get the chance. I'm going to jump straight in with Helen. How does this first introduction to Captain Marvel compare to other origin stories in the MCU? 
Helen O'Hara: I think basically what they try to do is not do the traditional origin story, when we meet her, she has her power, she doesn't maybe know the full extent of them, but she has them. And then she spends a whole film basically figuring out what they are, and kind of learning who she is. And sort of almost works backwards to the origin. We don't really see the origin happen fully until the very end. So I think they're just bending over backwards. They're just desperate to not do what we've seen a million times already. Oh, there's this person, and they have this problem. And then this thing happens. And then they get powers and they must deal with them. I mean, we've kind of played that out, I think totally. Yeah.
SZ: Going straight into Rachel, you are currently working on a Shuri comic for Marvel, which got some 'oohs' in the audience. [Laughter] What is going through your mind when you are putting a character like that onto the page, particularly one that is so loved already by fans? 

RS: It's kind of like it's interesting, just because someone has already been on the book anyway, as well, so a lot of the design work and things like that is already that's like comic book centric, it's already been laid out. So you do feel a little bit like you're playing in someone else's sandbox. But that happens a lot with comics and stuff. But with Shuri especially as soon as you start drawing someone, you get so attached to them. So when the endgame trailer you see in the background like Shuri deceased, and I was like 'No, my baby, how dare you'. Whereas before I feel like 'she was cool. Oh, no.' So that's always fun and heartbreaking.
SZ: Lisa, you've done a lot of research into, particularly, 90s action films. Can you talk a bit about the way 90s nostalgia works in the film?
LP: Yeah, I think it's really interesting because the film really hooks into 90s music, and actually 1980s one key 1980s film, so maybe I just say something about the music, not that I'm a music expert, but I think we can gather that this is kind of Riot grrrl music, it's feminist music, it's female focused, indie rock, and it's the kind of music which says, I resist the narratives that you want to place on me as a woman. And so I think that's really a key choice for the film, and absolutely feeds into the narrative arc that Captain Marvel has in the film, that kind of reclaiming that she does have her own identity and her own kind of self defining, I guess, you know, but just to say something about the 1980s film, of course, it's Top Gun. 

Okay. And this could have been just a really straightforward gender switch, I guess, you know, Captain Marvel as Tom Cruise and Ray Bans kind of thing.

HO: Even has a goose. 

LP: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And there's some lovely references there. But I think I think it does something a bit more interesting than that, I think it pushes the buddy relationship, and it kind of transforms it. So we get the buddy who's actually a female friend who's really important to her. So female friendship comes in, it's not sexualized, as it so often is. And that's really positive. I think the other thing it does is it connects Captain Marvel before she really becomes Captain Marvel, to ideas of like propulsion, you know, kind of shooting through the air under control, because she's got the professional knowledge to do so as a test pilot. So when she becomes Captain Marvel, really by the end, you're thinking, yeah, she can do this, you know. So the way they used Top Gun, I think, is really nuanced in a lot of ways.
SZ: And is there anything that you've observed about specifically this kind of sub genre of superhero films in your research that is maybe echoed in Captain Marvel?
LP: Yeah, you call it a sub genre... [Laughter] I think we're kind of living through the moment where it's just a big old genre on its own isn't it. But I think just coming back to this idea of how women have been permitted historically to show that they're powerful. 

And so often, that's, you know, they've got telepathy. So they're standing on the ground, sort of frowning a bit, and something's happening elsewhere. There's a lot of kind of stasis in the way that women have to kind of stand by and witness. So they're powerful in some ways, but it's a bit limited, so I think about Black Widow. So she's on the periphery of that ensemble, she's frowning a lot, you know, there's things going on. And she has got her own narrative arc in Marvel, but she hasn't got superpowers. You know, I think that's really significant. s
SZ: And Rachel, I wanted to ask you about, because you're very much from the comic book world, how this version of Captain Marvel compares to comic book versions that you've maybe liked in the past and how that's translated. 

RS: It's  interesting to the first time watch the movie, because I'm actually more familiar with the original Captain Marvel, who was like a blonde dude, you know, copy and paste, like so many superheroes. So it was nice to see Annette Benning's character actually was like, essentially him, which was nice, because I remember when Jude Law was cast that everyone's like, Oh, he's gonna be Marvel and stuff. So when you watch a movie, that's really nice. So I like the fact that the Marvel title is now being passed down from woman to woman that's very interesting, as well. But when I knew Carol Danvers, that character, the thing she was most known for, until very recently, was just mostly the woman that gave Rogue her powers. And that was about it. And she ran around in a swim costume. Which, you know, not a bad costume, but you know, cold, and yeah, so ever since, like Kelly Sue DeConnick did like this whole renovation on her and stuff, cool costume, and all that kind of stuff. So I think it's great because it's bringing that character, it's taken that character that was good, but you know, took Kelly to bring it into the modern age and really made it like, iconic to the point where it looks like cap is going to be like the Superman of like, the MCU maybe, in the next iteration of movies and stuff. And she's got like the ability to be that's, that's gonna be really interesting.
SZ: So Helen, going a bit broader now with Marvel and DC. I mean, we've had Wonder Woman, and now Captain Marvel, both very successful. Where do you think they will both go from here? Obviously, you've got Wonder Woman too, in 2020. And what would you like to see them do?
HO: It's interesting because we now have two really different super heroines, female superheroes, which I really, really like. We need the same variety that the guys have basically, it shouldn't just be, I mean, people were literally trying to get me to choose which one is my favourite, and I'm like, they're not similar. You know, Thor versus Captain Marvel would be a better comparison. Like they're not that similar characters. Their stories are completely different, and I think that's what we want to see going forward. I want to see as much variation in the women as we've had in the men, I personally really want to see Ms. Marvel. I feel like the Kamala Khan version you know, now we have Captain Marvel, we can set her up, we can do that. And she is so good. She's so good. 

I'd like to see Squirrel Girl, let's go crazy man, you know, and there's a lot of potential. A lot of characters that haven't been tapped. I was watching recently for a project I'm doing. I was rewatching all the X-Men films, and Storm is so underserved. I can't even bear it. I mean, in every single film, she's good, and she gets nothing to do. So I'd like a Storm movie, like, let's have it, you know.
LP: She rises up into the air.
HO: At least she gets to fly. 

RS: And she looks sad a lot. 

HO: She has terrible wigs. Yeah. [Laughter]

RS: She just spends half the movie like, readjusting it, like ooh I'm  back.
HO: And of course, Shuri as well. Oh, yeah. All the Black Panther was practically a female led movie in terms of numbers, so.
SZ: So, Lisa, do you think the genre changes at all or shifts when you put a female superhero at the centre of it?

LP: It kind of depends on the superhero. I think that there's a lot of expectations in terms of audience expectations that come along with that. Lots of anxiety. We've seen some of that in the comments. The below the line comments. Occasionally, I think one of the reviewers I was reading was accusing Brie Larson of being a bit uptight, as a performer. So I was thinking, what does a not uptight performance look like? And where does this accusation come from? So there's that whole context. I think the positive is that we start seeing different kinds of examples of strengths. I don't mean different from men, but just seeing that strength in a different kind of context, so attached to women, so they're able to be powerful, they don't have to have massive muscles in this particular kind of genre, they can express their strength in a range of ways. 

So it's exciting, it opens up possibilities. But so often, they become kind of pseudo girlfriends. So they're kind of sidekicks and they're kind of pushed to the side. So I think we're still in a process of change, where studios are testing out whether they can put a woman at the centre, there's a lot of work behind the scenes to get that done, to get that achieved. So maybe ask again, in 10 years time, we will see whether it does change the genre, because at the moment, there's a lot of negotiation going on, and a lot of kind of conventions that are being taken up in different kinds of ways.
SZ: And Lisa, you just mentioned the key word strong characters. And that was something I wanted to touch on. Because at the moment, a lot of the discourse has kind of shifted into a desire for complex over strong, and I wondered where you stood on how you think Captain Marvel did in terms of the complex, strong argument.
LP: Yeah, it doesn't seem to make any apologies for her being powerful. So what we don't see is lots of skin. And we don't see lots of comedy of the kind of Charlie's Angels kind of thing. So whoops, I've just kicked someone you know. I like those films, but they try and sort of make you feel more comfortable with powerful women by kind of minimising them through comedy. And this is a film that doesn't use comedy in that way. It doesn't apologise for her. It attaches lots of ideas of strengths, which we might conventionally associate historically with men. So military strengths, professional strength, control of, you know, aeroplanes, that kind of thing. So, I think it's making progress really. 

SZ: Alright, I am going to allow the audience to ask us questions now. And just up at the back there, very keen double handed request.
Q1: Two hands for two questions, if I may. First  question is, why do you think all of the dudes, the neckbeards got so enraged about the essence of a female superhero? And second question is, do you think it's right that Disney have kind of used Stanley's Twitter account to promote the movie? Because I think he would probably be definitely for the film. But is it right to take someone that's deceased..?
HO: Given Stanley's appetite for promotion, I think he'd be fine. Second, in terms of the first question, I think they are scared. They don't admit that they'll say it's because she made a very mild observation that most men on junkets are white men, which is 100% true, and suggested that maybe publications could try and do better. And for this, she was branded sexist, and racist and rude, and a self righteous bitch in one thing that I saw. And that's all nonsense, but they just needed any sort of excuse to get worked up into a frenzy about nothing, because they're afraid that they, you know, they're not going to be the Lords of culture anymore, and they're gonna have to share, so get with it.
LP: And they lived themselves a crusade and a boycott. So any excuse to be like, there's literally tens of us, they'll take it so they honestly.

HO: They honestly thought this was gonna bomb. Yeah, really did
SZ: That actually, I'm gonna jump in now with another one. You got one. Helen, I actually wanted to ask about Rotten Tomatoes. And if you could talk a bit about what happened with Rotten Tomatoes, and if you think that that's going to have a significant impact on female fronted films going forward.
HO: Well, so what happened was obviously they used to be able to put up a sort of, are you looking forward to this, yes or no. And they had kind of review bombed that and had thousands upon thousands of nos. So Rotten Tomatoes, thought hang on, this isn't particularly fair. It's out of line with similar films, so we're just going to take that away. You can't talk about how excited you are about a movie in advance of seeing it. When they opened the movie for reviews, they did the same thing. They all bombed it with bad reviews, which again, it's just not representative of any other measure of this movie success or popularity. So it does seem to be an unfair bombing, it doesn't seem to be genuinely loads of negative reviews. So Rotten Tomatoes has basically been trying to kind of control this unrepresentative problem, because the point is, if they can't present an overview, then they have no value as a site. So they're trying to protect their product, I think. 

And these guys are trying to weaponize it against films that don't suit their agenda, they did do the same thing against Ghostbusters. And they think it worked. And I think that's what's empowered them. And I think Ghostbusters just wasn't that good of a film. And that's why it more or less failed, anyway. But they did it against Ghostbusters, they tried to do it against Black Panther. And it well, it didn't work out so well for them there either. And they've tried to do it against Captain Marvel, they're gonna keep waging this culture war. And I think they're gonna keep losing. I mean, overall, because if a film is good, then we're gonna go see it. 

SZ: Absolutely. Oh, we have another question down the front.
Q2: So the question is, for all three of you, I wanted to ask about something you already touched on, which is the complex female characters. And this is something that Joanna Robinson pointed out at Vanity Fair, she said that she's not sure if Captain Marvel or Wonder Woman or any other of the future female characters would be allowed to be vulnerable, to be weak to make mistakes or to be emotional. I feel like we're still at this first phase of female superheroes when they are hyper competent, they're super powerful, like Shuri is way smarter than Tony Stark, Captain Marvel can beat anybody into a pulp. 

So when do you think we can expect to have more characters that are allowed to make mistakes, because I feel like now, we're just making them hyper competent to shield them against the criticism that you just talked about? You know, like, against, like, if we have a character make a mistake, like there's gonna be 1000s of trolls online being like, see, see, she's not good enough? You know what I mean? Stuff like, do you think we are ready to have soon the characters who are just allowed to make mistakes as well and still be considered valid, I suppose.
HO: I feel like that's going to happen a little bit in the sequels. And I feel like that's the way it went for the men as well, that they tended to do pretty well, first time out. And then, you know, they faced things that they had to overcome, but they did them pretty well. And then it gets really complicated in film 2. And from what I know about Wonder Woman, 1984, which, of course, isn't anything - I wasn't on set. I think it's going to get really complicated. And she's going to be quite tested. And I would expect the same Captain Marvel too.
RS : There's a quote, I always use a lot. And I always say, it's George Miller, who did Mad Max Fury Road, but I'm not 100% sure it is. But he said this thing about how once you allow more than one woman in the movie, then you can get a broad range of people. So for ages, your personality trait was that you were the woman, it's like, you got the funny guy and this cool guy, and then the woman and all this kind of stuff. So now we're getting into an era where maybe we will see a broader range of people. And then you can start to see writers getting more used to giving women like their own distinct personalities, and it's not going to cause problems and things. 

HO: Funny woman? Come on. 

RS: No, no, that's just a myth that spreads by...
LP: I mean, will Captain Marvel just get sucked into the throne in endgame? That's, I mean, let's not forget that there is complexity in the Captain Marvel origin story, too, you know, we don't have to wait for all of that to come in the sequels, you know, the emotional arc that she goes through, the fact that she's already testing her boundaries, and sometimes making mistakes in that first film. And I think that gives us a good platform, maybe even a better platform than from what I've seen of the first Wonder Woman film to have a rounded female character who gets that nice narrative arc, in the later films, you know that she may make mistakes that she may be compromised in some way.
SZ: Any more questions? Oh, yes. One up the back there on the left. 

Q3: I think when Brie Larson was announced as Captain Marvel, she was a newly minted Oscar winner. And again, I think she's the first of the leads in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be an Oscar winner, at least the lead superhero. And do you think that's a reflection of them needing to kind of boost the female lead or just a reflection of the type of talent that Marvel can now attract?
HO: I'm inclined to go with the latter just because if you look at the cast of even Iron Man when they're first starting, they had well Gwyneth obviously, but Jeff Bridges was a multiple nominee at that point. I think he hadn't won yet. Terrence Howard was a nominee again. I mean, they've gone for Oscar winners from the start and Oscar nominees. 

LP: I think I also have a theory, which is that it might be to do with her jaw line, right? Okay. So it's not just that she's an Oscar winner. She's got a very square jaw. And this may seem like a facetious thing to say, but if you're trying to get someone into a movie, where you're going to reference Top Gun, where you're going to have a military pilot, and that person is then going to become this super powerful superhero, then you might want to reach back to some of the iconography of masculine strength as it kind of manifests in superhero films and then action films and so on. I'm not by any stretch of the imagination suggesting this is the only reason Brie Larson is in this role. But I think that it's an interesting part of her visual look in this film

RS: Ah, because of phrenology.

LP: It is it is slightly dubious. But let's see.[Laughter]

HO: But you're probably right that having an Oscar didn't hurt certainly against protect them against criticism.
SZ: I'm sure it wouldn't hurt. And I've often wondered whether she would have been cast had she not just fresh come off the Oscar. But she far in and she's in it. And I won't question any more. Any more questions?
Q4: Hi, this is for everyone. How do you think our approach to putting female superheroes on film has changed since the days of Supergirl and Electra and Catwoman. So where we are now?
LP: Okay, so. [Laughter] I mean, I think if you think through that list, what you're seeing often is a real kind of hanging on to traditional ideas of femininity. So the nurturing mother figure, someone who's kind of reluctantly given a sort of a young girl to kind of look after, while she's also doing all this kind of martial arts stuff. And that's quite common, actually. I mean, that, you know, the Charlie's Angels films give you a kind of someone who's nice to look at, who can be your perfect girlfriend, but is also doing martial arts and so on, you look back to even Aliens , that kind of thing, you've got the angry, the angry maternal figure, so angry that she can shoot it, aliens and all that kind of thing. I'm not trying to minimise those films, particularly not the Alien films. 

But you can see that that's a kind of a tradition in the way that Hollywood has tried to incorporate women. It's like, it's okay, she's doing this physical action II stuff, because she's angry because of this. And it's to do with her femininity. I think what's so exciting about Captain Marvel, is that it doesn't do that. It does talk about her being a woman. And it talks about the way in which she's grown up in a kind of patriarchal society that's telling her to limit the space that she takes up, to limit her sense of herself and what she can be. 

But it's not trying to say, Oh, she's being a mother here, or she's being a girlfriend or something like that. It takes great pains, actually, to not show very much skin. So she's got the Captain Marvel suit, she's got her grungy outfit, none of these things, you know, are sort of skimpy or anything, it takes great pains not to sexualize some of the relationships that she's in. So the buddy kind of relationships, the relationship with Nick Fury, the relationship with Jude law's character, and so on. So I think that's really positive.
HO: I mean, I think the big difference for me is that those films were made to try to appeal to a male audience. And I feel like these films are being made, at least partially to appeal to a female audience. And they're trying therefore to figure out what women want in a non Mel Gibson way. You know, is feminism is the radical idea that women are people and I feel like they're just treating them as people and try and take them as characters, and not treat them as, you know, fantasies, which I think some of those women, as you say, basically, are.
Q5: You're saying about like, relationships, people not being sexualized, which I think is great. But do you think this is kind of a stepping stone towards showing more diverse sexuality representation in terms of like, you know, gay characters in the future?
LP:Ideally, I would always want like, more Queer as long as I was right missing queer content, queer content in movies and things like this. But I always remember when Beauty and the Beast was coming out, and I was like, Oh, my God it's full of gays. And I was like, either yes, or like, noooo. And they came out, it's literally Lafite going, 'ding' at some random guy. And I was like, okay, everyone lost their mind over that. So anytime I get the slightest bit like, oh, maybe with Carol, I'm like, oh, maybe in like 20 years.
RS: Yeah, I sort of think about the Tessa Thompson example in Thor Ragnarok. You know, you get all this press about how she's definitely bisexual. And then you watch the film. And it's sort of like, well, yeah, but you have to really try hard to fit the pieces together. It's not like she gets a scene where it's confirmed in some way, you know

HO: Or Donald Glover, they did the same thing in Solo. 

RS: Absolutely, so it's the same kind of negotiation, you know, that they're testing things out, is particularly annoying when you get lots of press and and there's nothing sort of there. But I think they've kept things open with Captain Marvel so that they can go down that road if it's felt safe to do so and so on. So, perhaps in the future.

HO: And we've already got Steve and Bucky, definitely a couple [Laughter]
SZ: There is a lot of press at the moment about Marvel seeking their first openly gay lead superhero and it's all rumours, but they're in talks with actors who are openly gay. So I mean, the jury's still out on whether they'll follow through but there is a lot being written at the moment and I suspect that what's happened with Black Panther, what's happened with Captain Marvel, I think that they are realising that diversity and inclusion and being more inclusive is beneficial in more ways than one
HO: Right. I mean, Batgirl on TV for DC, I think will also be a bit of a test case, people seeing how that does. And I don't know if Birds of Prey will have a little bit of that as well, maybe when that comes out. 
LP: I mean, I swing from it only takes it's only taken them 17 or 18 years, to isn't it great that we're living through this moment now when they're actually opening things up?
SZ: Any more questions? Oh, right down the front. 

Q6: So my question's  kind of linked to the last question, actually, bearing in mind that it's been 11 years since you know, Iron Man first came out, and we've just got a female superhero star in a Marvel film. You know, while we were talking about sort of more diversity in films, how long do you think it might be before we start seeing, say, different body types, disabilities, and mental health issues and anything like that, and I understand that this is not something that's ever been really expressed in any superhero film, male ones as well. I was just wondering whether you see that possibly coming up at any time, it may be another 11 years. But at least she's not walking around in stilettos. So that's always a plus

HO: I think there is a bit of a wedge. 

Q6: Yeah, a little bit [Laughter] 

HO: I mean, we've had PTSD, I guess that's the closest we've been to sort of mental health issues that was sort of Iron Man three, there was there was a fair amount of that, it wasn't explicitly named, but I feel like it was there. I feel like that might be the one that comes first, you might get a little bit of the TV series for Vision and Scarlet Witch, you could get into some of her issues, which in the comics are major. And she's had real real troubles. So you might get into that. If you put Scarlet Witch stuff up, it'd be like too much. In terms of disability, I don't know when in terms of body types.
Q6: Yeah, so I was not just thinking about say, you know, just anything from bigger bodies from women who are more more Muslim or masculine looking traditionally, anything because I mean, as wonderful as it was, and as much as I'm going to see it like another six times, she is a very attractive woman, and she is very conventionally attractive. And, yeah, I just think it would be interesting to see more representation both through sexuality through gender, through everything.
RS: I think that the like, the source material for so many years has been complex in so many years, like the people making the current books have been straight white dudes who know what they like, because society tells them you like this guy and a lady and put her into your comic book and stuff. And we're like, not in recent years like in you know, the past few decades, we have seen more and more women entering the industry. So you're seeing a much broader range of like saying about Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. If you've seen a comic called Faith, she's like a larger lady who's also superior and it's awesome. It's written by Jodie Houser whom I love. Yeah, so we're seeing now like women are coming in and going, okay, now we want to see people that look like us sound like us and do stories like us, and not just women, but people of colour and people disability and things like that.
SZ: Probably got time for one more very quick question.
Q7: I was wondering why you think Marvel have included many more female main characters in their TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D or Agent Carter, as opposed to in their films?
HO: It was safer. There have been more women on TV, I think, and more women leading TV shows in the past couple of decades. The percentages of female leads on TV are much, much higher. I mean, in Hollywood, traditionally, it's been hovering around 10%, in TV, I don't know exactly, but I'm guessing it's well over 35, I would say. So it's been easier to sell a female lead on TV than it has been in in cinemas and of course even in TV and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I mean, yes, you had Sky but you also the agent Colson and it was very much hung on him, so they kind of you know, were able to kind of fudge it, I think a little bit in that case.
LP: And going back to your earlier point about the testing ground as well. You know, I think Marvel in particular have been using using it as a testing ground television in particular.
SZ: I'm afraid we're gonna have to wrap it up there. Thank you so much for coming. Please join me in thanking our panel.
EEJ: Thanks for listening to this Barbican screen talk on Captain Marvel. Join us next time to hear more filmmakers and film fans talking about the movies. And in the meantime, please do subscribe and rate the Barbican ScreenTalks podcast via Apple podcasts, Acast or your usual podcast providers or by visiting And we're always keen to hear your thoughts. 

You'll find us on social media at Barbican Centre. Barbican ScreenTalks Archive is presented by me Ellen E Jones and produced by Jane Long for Loftus media. We'll be back next time with French filmmaker Mati Diop up talking about her directorial debut feature, the extraordinary Atlantics. Until then, be well and goodbye.

Please consider donating

We rely on the money we raise through ticket sales, commercial activities and fundraising to deliver our arts and learning programme. It forms more than 60% of our income. Show your support by making a donation and help inspire more people to discover and love the arts.