So say Marvel decides to do the unthinkable and make a movie with a female lead. How do they make it?
Pretty straightforward: you do Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, and you do it as a passing-torch movie, with Mar-Vell falling from the sky and playing a combination of Abin Sur and Anthony Hopkins Old Zorro from Mask of Zorro. Say Mar-Vell has the Quantum Bands, which give him all the Captain Marvel powers – flight, toughness, blasting things, etc. (You probably also want to include a sensory power of some kind because it’ll create a visual hook and be the key to defeating whatever Big Bad eventually shows up – this could be her precognitive “seventh sense” or whatever, but the point is you need that power because without it her powerset is kind of generic. Although being able to fly in space unassisted is sort of a special thing in the Marvel movies right now, so maybe that instead? I dunno.)
Anyway. You can even work Mar-Vell having cancer into it – say the Quantum Bands are the only things keeping him alive and they won’t work much longer so he’s looking for a successor, and it can’t be a Kree because the Kree are planning to invade Earth, as alien empires do, and Mar-Vell is opposed to that so there you go, more comics adaptive referencing. Mar-Vell crash-lands on Earth, promptly gets picked up by the Air Force, and I think it would be pretty great if, rather than being “oh we must be suspicious and scared of the alien” they were immediately co-operative and worked with him. Except, of course, they want to make sure the Bands go to their handpicked alpha dog asshole, even though Carol is of course the superior pilot. Needless to say, Alpha Dog (hell, that should be his callsign) thinks the Bands are basically meant to be his, and everybody agrees with him. Except Mar-Vell, of course, and when a Kree advance strike force attacks that’s when he gives Carol the bands and then dies.
Anyway, the rest of the movie writes itself at that point: Carol has to deal with the military who, even if they can’t bring themselves to admit it, don’t want a woman having the awesome space weapons, and also with the Kree invasion force (probably involving a lot of deep-space fighting because that, in the movies, can be Captain Marvel’s Specific Thing). It’s definitely got a nice meta taste to it but I think that’s what makes it work.