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Weekend Movie Takeaway: Captain Marvel

March 20, 2019
2 min read time

In its second weekend in theaters, Captain Marvel earned an emphatic $69 million, more than drowning out the internet trolls that sought to undermine the film's opening.

Surely to the chagrin of the online types offended by the movie's existence, Captain Marvel’s second weekend numbers leave very little room for doubt that the general public wants to embrace female-led superhero movies. Female movie-goers made up a greater percentage of the film's audience during its second week at the box office.

It's a lesson Hollywood seems to keep having to learn, but once again, it shows that women see blockbusters as well.

A big part of MCU’s success has been placing an emphasis on the uniqueness of the stories these films are based on. For the longest time, comic book adaptations left their source material behind and told a "movie" story, rather than a "comic book" story, but the gargantuan success of the MCU has reversed that trend.

Another contributing factor is the type of news that broke last week, further solidifying the MCU's commitment to honoring story: James Gunn was re-hired as the writer/director of the third Guardians of the Galaxy installment.

It's a remarkable turnaround from Marvel owners Disney, who fired Gunn from the third film after right-wing trolls highlighted some offensive Twitter jokes he made years ago. Gunn wrote and directed the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films to great creative and commercial success, and when he was first let go, Disney faced enormous pressure from fans to re-instate him. Then the furore eventually died down and Gunn took a job at Marvel's distinguished competition to write and direct a new Suicide Squad film.

Nobody expected Gunn to get rehired by Disney, but the move shows that Disney/Marvel recognizes his unique take on the Guardians characters and story was central to the success of the first two films, and didn't want to forgo his creative input. They knew that the audience knew that the author of these stories was being cast aside. Thus it feels like in this case, good storytelling trumps all—and that's highly encouraging to screenwriters everywhere.

Over at Warner Bros./DC, another piece of superhero movie news emerged this week that reflected how the modern superhero blockbuster places more emphasis on story than in prior generations: actor Ezra Miller, who is attached to play The Flash in the new solo movie will co-write the eponymous film alongside comic book legend Grant Morrison. Miller appeared as The Flash in 2017's Justice League, and briefly in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Miller's Flash film has been mired in development hell for several years, with multiple directors attached at various times. According to reports, Miller had different ideas about the film's tone than currently attached directors, Game Night helmers (and Spider-Man: Homecoming co-writers) John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. Miller then convinced the studio to let him and Morrison take a run at penning the screenplay.

It's a pretty unique scenario for a superhero movie, and shows that Warner Bros./DC also realises how important it is to not fudge the story.

Both of these superhero developments point to how much ownership the audience has of story these days—something all storytellers need to keep in mind. Studios can no longer dictacte the terms of their own superhero narratives. They’re aware that audience recognition and thus felt ownership of these characters is paramount, and the finished product better reflect that. It's something all screenwriters should keep in mind.

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