I just watched Captain Marvel and I was absolutely blown away. Here’s why.
Warning: this post will contain spoilers. In the interest of keeping it entertaining, comprehensible and contextual, it has too. So if you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Captain Marvel yet, I encourage you to buy yourself a ticket at your local cinema of choice and come back when you have experienced the movie and both end-credits scenes.
I suppose we should start with my own humble beginnings in the world of Marvel.
June, 2016. Grade nine mid-year exams. I was procrastinating – how in-character of me – and decided that I could make productive use of all the free-time off of school I had to educate myself on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (what else was I supposed to do in exam season?)!
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t even the slightest bit skeptical; I had never really watched superhero movies. But I had made a deal with my friend that I’d watch all the Marvel movies if he read all the Harry Potter books and, well, a deal’s a deal.
So I cozied up in my bed with my laptop and the first Iron Man movie.
By the end of it, I couldn’t believe no one had ever introduced me to the movies before.
I loved it.
Since then I’ve been a fan. I talk to my friends about my favourite characters, I watch the new movies in the cinema, I have mini-marathons at home. I even have Pinterest boards with fan-art and theories (which is not a surprise because I have a Pinterest board for everything). I’m not obsessed – I have yet to watch the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man movies or watch any of the TV series – but I do really, really enjoy them.
There has, however, always been one major flaw in them:
Where are the girls?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are lots of amazing women in the movies already. Pepper Potts, Peggy Carter, Dr. Jane Foster, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Valkyrie, Nakia, Okoye, Shuri: I see them, I love them, and there are still so many more to name.
But it’s not enough.
And it was never enough.
Before I get comments saying I’m ungrateful for the strong female characters there are in the Marvel films, there’s just one fact I have to share. Out of the twenty-one movies making up the MCU, fifteen are named after a man, six are named after a group of superheroes, and before Captain Marvel, none were named after a woman.
There was no female lead of a Marvel movie.
Captain Marvel was the first.
So forgive me for being excited that girls and women are all finally being given the badass heroine we deserve. Although there is still major work to be done for diversity in sexuality and race, this is something Marvel – and every fan, critic, or common movie-goer – can be proud of.
And it will be something to be proud of. The success of Wonder Woman by DC, and Black Panther proves that diversity in superhero films pays off. People want to see heroes who look like them – now I have a superhero who looks like me!
More than that, Captain Marvel does a female superhero right. There’s no unnecessary romantic subplot, but rather a strong friendship between two women – with not even a hint of animosity or competition. The innocent cheerleader is an enthusiastic little girl, who is probably as eager to see Captain Marvel succeed as all the little girls in the audience are. She’s allowed to be funny – cocky even – and perhaps the greatest achievement of all: her suit is functional! Gone are the days of over-sexualized costumes and high-heels worn into battle. Captain Marvel’s uniform is designed the way the men’s uniforms are: form-fitting without being revealing, and protective while still visually-satisfying. What’s not to love?
Besides the wonderful messages of girl power, Captain Marvel explores other hard-hitting and heartfelt themes.
Allowing yourself to be emotional and to use that emotion to your advantage is such an important lesson for everyone to learn. Of course a person has to think logically, but if there’s no passion behind what you’re fighting for, you’ll never win. Also in an age where we are pushing for all people to be able to express their emotions and not be seen as weak, or be told to “man up” or “calm down”, showing a woman who is constantly told her emotions are wrong and she needs to ignore them beat the very person who kept enforcing that message is just incredible.
The way the truth about the war between the two alien races – Kree and Skrull if we want to get technical here – and the way it unravels is also an important take-away from this film. If I understood it correctly, as the way it is explained in the film, the Kree – who had been propagating the idea that the Skrull were a threat to their borders and were instigating the war, were actually carrying out a sort of genocide on the Skrull – who only wanted a home safe from the war. I won’t say it was inspired by nor in any way is an exactly accurate representation of our global situation, but I was struck by the parallels in that story-line and the refugee crises and responses. There are many governments and political groups promoting the idea that people immigrating and seeking refuge out of their countries are dangerous, while all they want to do is find safety from unjust circumstances they have been put in. Maybe it’s the human rights advocate in me connecting unlikely parallels, but I suggest you watch the film again with this idea of mine in mind and see if you pick up on the same subtle clues.
And what kind of review would this be if I didn’t include perhaps the best theme of all? Falling over again and again, and never failing to get back up again. Haters will say it’s cliché but I think it’s so important, so invigorating and just so damn inspiring.
While the critics are right in saying the film was a bit lopsided in the beginning, I do think that Captain Marvel was a brilliant movie. The visual effects were astounding, Brie Larson is my new idol, and the cat-kraken deus ex machina was an amusing if not utterly bizarre addition (so far my cat has not employed any tentacles to eat her food since I returned from the cinema but I will keep you posted). The backstory to Nick Fury’s missing eye was also an interesting twist I hadn’t imagined before, but LOVED in the movie. Cats are wonderful life-saving creatures, but also lethal (another important theme from the film).
I’m thrilled for Avengers: Endgame and for the coming years to see Captain Marvel go higher, further, faster.