Within the last two weeks I have seen both Casablanca and Captain Marvel for the first time. Casablanca I gave a score of 9 ½ out of 10 and Captain Marvel, 9.7 out of 10.Now, both movies I had some reservations about. With Casablanca, I was nervous of how slow it was going to be and whether I could get through the full movie without falling asleep…I almost did… but eventually did watch the full movie! In my defense I had the flu when I watched it…With Captain Marvel, my reservations about it where the misconstrued Brie Larson comments made about white men that got blown out of proportion and turned going to see the film into a political thing. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to deal with the backlash from white male friends of mine who were basically boycotting the movie based on what they believe Larson said or meant with her press circuit comments. What did she say? “About a year ago, I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male…So, I spoke to Dr Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, who put together a study to confirm that. Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive. ‘After speaking with you, the film critic Valerie Complex and a few other women of colour, it sounded like across the board they weren’t getting the same opportunities as others. When I talked to the facilities that weren’t providing it, they all had different excuses…
I don’t need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work about A Wrinkle in Time. It wasn’t made for him! I want to know what it meant to women of color, biracial women, to teen women of color.
Am I saying I hate white dudes? No, I am not. What I am saying is if you make a movie that is a love letter to women of color, there is an insanely low chance a woman of color will have a chance to see your movie, and review your movie.
That was interpreted as basic hate speech against white men and they went wild boycotting the film. I personally think it was misinterpreted and she just wants to see more diversity reviewing her films and if a movie features a strong female woman of color, she wants to see some other women of color to review it, not just white men. That’s NOT to say it’s not for white men to check out. I think what she said made sense and got way blown out of proportion. I don’t think she meant to target white males. With that being said, that was my dilemma of going to check it out, not that I was against what she said, I just hated the sole fact that going to enjoy a superhero movie was turning into a political move or statement where I somehow was either with them or against them. At the end of the day though, I decided I am going to see whatever I want, politics be damned.
As for the essence of the films itself, they are two completely different movies that portray women in two totally different lights. Both flattering, positive lights that are a testament to the time in which the film was made. Isla Lund, the main female character in Casablanca is highly admired in the film for her beauty and class/elegance, which during the time of the 1940s was highly respected and something women wanted. Today, it’s very different. Women’s roles in society have taken on a whole new definition and women do not want to be admired for how they look, but for their strength, their smarts, their perseverance, all qualities Captain Marvel possesses. It’s unfair to put the movies into the same category entirely because they are two different genres. While I personally enjoyed Captain Marvel better, I cannot deny the fact that Casablanca is a fantastic movie for it’s time and there is no denying the great acting in it. However, while it’s considered a classic, it’s not something that I as a modern, present day woman see qualities I admire in the lead female role. For one, as I’ve mentioned before, I am not a big romance fan. I have select romance movies I enjoy but even at that I’d take an action movie over romance any day. I connect more to Captain Marvel even though she’s a superhero with insane abilities. In addition to liking action better than romance, I like movies that have a little bit of everything. Captain Marvel had humor, action, friendship/love, mystery, and drama. I like a well-rounded movie. While there is a historical aspect to Casablanca with politics involved, it’s romance at its core and I just get easily bored.
Now what I’m about to say is going to come across as very “I am woman, hear me roar” so just fair warning, but it’s how I feel…The reason Casablanca does not stand up for me in today’s world is that at it’s core, while it’s romantic and what Rick did for Isla is so admirable and makes you swoon or melt, it’s the typical, damsel in distress where the guy comes in to save the day because she’s this beautiful dame who needs to be protected, the guy is enamored with, and believes she deserves happiness. It’s all achieved, not by her own accord, but that of the leading man’s. In today’s society I live in a world where chivalry is dead and everything I get in life I work for and grind away at. That’s the world Captain Marvel is a part of too. She literally has to fight for herself and she perseveres and overcomes all the noise of men telling her she’s weak, not good enough, not strong enough, too emotional because she is a woman. There is an underlining story of strength and perseverance that I admire and can relate to as a woman in today’s world. I cannot relate to a world where men come in and save the day. Societal roles have changed. I don’t mean to sound hardcore feminist over here, it’s just the reality of today’s standards where I cannot relate to being a woman who relies on the “big powerful men in society” to take care of me and save the day like back in the 1940s. I, like Captain Marvel, save myself. That’s it in a nutshell. I admire strong female characters I can relate to and while I can see Isla containing her own form of strength for her time with staying with her husband and going off to America while still loving Rick, that’s not my personal definition of strength.
I stand by my scores for each film. Casablanca is a film worthy of its admiration and I get why people have this romantic notion of a time where love looked like that. It was a classier time; there is no denying that. There is nostalgia about it, I get it. However times have changed and I am a 90s baby, brought up by a very strong, independent Slavic woman who taught me to work for what I got in life and not rely on what others can do for me but what I can do for myself. That’s imbedded in me so it’s no wonder a movie like Captain Marvel is going to resonate with me more than Casablanca.