Even with the wild costumes, breathtaking special effects, and badass fight choreography in Captain Marvel, I couldn’t take my eyes off Brie Larson’s hair. I did not want to be looking at her hair—this was, after all, the first time Marvel Studios had produced a movie with a female superhero headlining. I had watched each Avengers film with the hope of catching a glimpse of Black Widow or Scarlet Witch kicking butt and taking names, and now there was an entire movie dedicated to a heroine doing just that. And yet. Maybe there was some frazzled hair dresser who obsessed over Chris Hemsworth’s rugged locks for Thor, but usually, superheroes have short hair. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor-post-fight-with-Hela: all men, all with slight variations of the same short, slick, Superman-style haircut.
Brie Larson, with her shoulder length hair, must have provided a new challenge for hairdressers on set. She was rough and tumble in action, sometimes even whooping with glee in a distinctly un-masculine but very powerful way as she took down bad guys, but her style was still feminine, still refined. She donned a baseball cap, provided by Samuel L. Jackson’s character Nick Fury, upon entering the SHIELD headquarters and with each scene change, her locks appeared freshly coiffed beneath the hat. The only reason I noticed was because the hairdressers didn’t curl her hair consistently: sometimes it was curled out, sometimes in. To a well-meaning male viewer (or a female viewer who has never toiled with a hot curling iron), this goof probably didn’t even register, and if it did it certainly didn’t detract from the film. Like a nagging itch though, I just kept picturing Brie Larson suited up in her gear, ready to shoot the next scene but held down by a flurry of hair and makeup artists intent on making Captain Marvel look powerful, but not too powerful (read: masculine).
This hair debacle sums up my feelings about the movie: beautiful to look at, but slightly off kilter. The movie projected a consistent reminder that we weren’t just watching a superhero movie, but a superhero movie about a woman, and this was a Big Deal. There were fewer jokes, less swearing, more tender emotional moments, a montage of Captain Marvel as a child persevering through obstacles—everything Iron Man would find hokey. This sensitivity wasn’t necessarily a flaw, but as a lover of the power, energy, and nonchalance of earlier Marvel movies, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that Captain Marvel wasn’t afforded the same authority, even arrogance, that male Marvel superheroes wield. Perhaps though, this choice was purposeful, ushering in a new type of superhero: one who harnesses all the joys and burdens of being a woman, acknowledges her strengths and weaknesses, and still defends her friends and family with a strength so all-encompassing she doesn’t have to be unkind or arrogant in her presentation. And, of course, she has great hair in the process.
Maddie Woda is a junior in Columbia College studying English. She is lucky enough to be dating the world’s foremost Marvel scholar (and he loved Captain Marvel).