As the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to focus on a female superhero, Captain Marvel is meant to be a celebration of female empowerment. But in China, plenty of discussion online isn’t focusing on the character’s actions or the film’s plot -- it’s focused on the looks of star Brie Larson.

“I’m not judging a person by their looks,” writes a commenter that is about to judge a person on their looks, “but the main character in a superhero movie shouldn’t be a ‘da ma’” -- a derogatory term for middle-aged housewives.

Another person re-posted a Photoshopped meme comparing the butts of Captain Marvel and Spider-Man, using the edited picture to suggest that Larson’s hips aren’t round enough.

“The reputation of Captain Marvel was destroyed by this picture,” wrote one Weibo user of this Photoshopped meme. (Picture: Weibo)

While Captain Marvel is far from being the most successful Marvel film in Chinese box office history, it’s hardly a flop either. It’s grossed over US$127 million since its March 8 debut, according to Chinese ticketing giant Maoyan. It also boasts a 7-star rating on Douban -- China’s equivalent to Rotten Tomatoes, which is comparable with Avengers: Age of Ultron and Venom.

And there are plenty of people defending the film’s choice of Brie Larson.

“Why must the superheroes look sublimely beautiful? This face looks tough. It’s exactly what Captain Marvel calls for,” wrote one Weibo user.   

Another said, “I wish we can all avoid double standards. Is Tony Stark young? Is he well-built? Do you all like him because of his muscles?”

Still, it seems like Captain Marvel’s momentum isn’t as strong in China as it is in the US. While the blockbuster dominated the American box office for two weekends in a row, in China it lost the top spot to Taiwanese romance More Than Blue -- a tearjerker about two star-crossed lovers.

Some say it’s because Captain Marvel feels less like a standalone film, and more like a palate cleanser for Avengers: Endgame in April.

“Captain Marvel was OK. Not saying it’s bad but don’t expect any surprises,” said one of the top comments on Douban. “Watch it for the hype. It’s just a lead-up to the final episode anyway.”

Others say Larson’s character feels one-dimensional.

“She’s such an important character. But her personality didn’t shine through,” said another top comment.

But there was one thing almost everyone agreed on: The cat stole the show. This is the most liked comment on Douban:

“You know that feeling when you left the theater at 2:30 am after watching Captain Marvel, and you bumped into an orange cat in the corridor?”