Abstract: This paper uses Stuart Hall’s theory of encoding/decoding to analyze the portrayal of women in the first six issues of Captain Marvel, attending especially to how these representations compare to previous depictions of women in mainstream superhero comics. Captain Marvel Vol. 1 gained financial success through new modes of distribution and has a large, female fan-base, which is atypical for mainstream superhero comics. I argue that, in part due to these new modes of distribution, Captain Marvel Vol. 1 is works as a counter-hegemonic force in mainstream superhero comics, featuring a feminist-minded, mostly female identified creative team in an industry that employs mostly males. Further, the comic features empowered and non-stereotypical female characters, in contrast to common damsels in distress and sexually objectified female characters in superhero comics. This paper thus contributes to broader debates over the portrayal of females in superhero comics by detailing the unique challenges of the portrayal of women in superhero comics compared to portrayal of women other media and how Captain Marvel marks a positive change on both fronts.
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