Movies

Movie Review: “Captain Marvel”

CAPTAIN MARVEL. How can I describe the absolute beauty, hilarity, power, and preciousness of this film? I laughed, I clapped, I cheered, I even got a little emotional at one point. It was WONDERFUL.

Vers is a Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her people and the Skrulls. But when she lands on Earth in 1995, her recurring memories of another life as a U.S. Air Force pilot grow stronger. With help from Nick Fury, Vers tries to uncover the secrets of her past while harnessing her special superpowers to end the war with the evil Skrulls.

–Google blurb (which I edited a bit, because of spoilers)

To be honest, I went into this movie thinking that I was really just here for my last pre-Avengers: Endgame information hunt. The final installment of the Infinity Saga hits theaters at the end of next month, and everyone’s been thinking that Captain Marvel might hold some clues as to how the diabolical, genocidal mastermind Thanos might be defeated once and for all.

I did NOT expect to enjoy this movie as much as I did, however. Right from the very beginning you can’t help but be intrigued by the young, spunky Vers and her relationship with her tough but kindly mentor, Yon-Rogg. Vers struggles with bizarre flashbacks of a life she knows she couldn’t have possibly lived, but Yon-Rogg urges her to exercise self-control and master her emotions as well as these odd occurrences. She won’t be a mighty Kree hero if she can’t accomplish that. 

But in the aftermath of a skirmish with the shape-shifting Skrulls, Vers crash-lands on Earth in the mid-90’s. Rather humorously, she even crashes through the roof of a Blockbuster store. All too soon, however, she not only finds herself under attack by the Skrulls, but trailed by a rather young and inexperienced S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent by the name of Nick Fury.

Eventually, Fury and Vers team up: she’s trying to trace these very strange recurring “memories” of a fighter pilot’s life, while he’s trying to keep both eyes on his very first extraterrestrial. But nothing is as it seems. As she gradually pieces together the fragments of her real history–the true story of Carol Danvers–Vers soon faces a terrible choice: will she return to everything and everyone she knows and accept her life among the Kree, or will she defy them and defend the very people she’s always been taught to hate?

Captain Marvel has all the delights we’ve come to expect from a Marvel movie–and as box office numbers testify, nobody’s bored yet. It’s hilarious, it’s tenderhearted, it’s compelling, and it’s action-packed. The usual crude words are thrown about here and there, and one brief shot involved a naked mannequin–but otherwise it’s a clean film, and almost totally devoid of the unsubtle, unappealing “Girl Power” vibe we tend to get from TV and cinema nowadays. In fact, the movie could have been about a guy, and it wouldn’t have changed the plot. Vers/Carol’s heroism had nothing–NOTHING–to do with her gender. It had everything to do with her goodness and her humanity. It just so happened that she’s…well, a girl.

And you know what? That’s AWESOME. Because at the end of the day, the way God made us biologically–the differences He designed between men and women–those are definitely important. And I’ll be the first to say it’s lovely having role models (historical and fictional) who are women like me, because I relate to them in a way I never will with a male character.

BUT it’s the content of character that matters most in storytelling. Any heroine can kick behind and look cool doing it, but that doesn’t automatically make her a good role model for young women (or young men, for that matter). Carol/Vers, however, has so many good and admirable character qualities that make her a worthy heroine. She is tender, thoughtful, respectful, and considerate. She clings to gentle humor and optimism in the face of darkness, and at the end of the day, she stands up not only for the defenseless…but for herself. 

Marvel’s ambition, in Brie Larson’s words, was to “make a big feminist movie.” One Influential Christian Site claimed Carol is “the armed princess turned feminist queen, who comes down from the tower to do what Prince Charming could not.” Another insisted Captain Marvel was “a hectoring reminder to hear women roar.

I strongly disagree with both camps. If Marvel intended on a blatant feminist message, they failed spectacularly–and to quote Shakespeare, those Influential Christian Sites “doth protest too much.” As one of my Twitter friends said, “Captain Marvel wasn’t about a strong FEMALE character. It was about a strong female CHARACTER.” And while we can certainly argue all day long about whether women should be in the military, we should never, EVER diminish the importance of heroes (whether female or male) who are as strong as they are kind, and who refuse to sacrifice their self-respect and principles in the face of political agendas, convenience, or abuse.

Besides…when we look to the incredible capaciousness of womanhood portrayed for us in the Bible through the wise and fiery examples of women like Jael and Abigail, Rahab and Ruth, Esther and the Virgin Mary, perhaps we will find that heroines like Carol Danvers aren’t so far from the mark after all.

8 thoughts on “Movie Review: “Captain Marvel””

  1. I like what you said here.

    I think the movie was feminist in a good way, in that it argued powerfully for women being allowed to live their lives the way they want, according to their own individual strengths. Carol was constantly told she wasn’t good enough, wasn’t strong enough, didn’t belong in the military, simply because she was a girl. But she didn’t care if anybody ELSE thought she wasn’t good enough . . . she had a dream, and she persevered until she accomplished it. As women everywhere have the right to do.

    Her perseverance and determination (along with her compassion) are, I believe, her true superpowers. In that way, she reminds me very much of Captain America, who was ALSO told [for different reasons] he’d never make a fighter, and who ALSO drew on his true superpowers of determination & courage to achieve his calling.

    (I know you very probably agree with me on all or most of these points, so I’m not saying this to “argue” . . . I just love the movie so much, I wanted to write down my own interpretation to clarify it for myself. 🙂 )

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    1. I definitely agree with you on most of these points! I really don’t like the term “feminism” simply because it’s been so tainted by liberal agendas, but I do believe God granted women their own special strength and dignity, as well as their own individual roles/callings. I do believe that men and women have some differing roles, but also that they’re equally precious in God’s sight: man is not better than woman, and woman is not better than man. I also believe we women have an incredible role to play in God’s redemptive story, but I DO NOT believe that we find our worth in being wives and mothers. That’s a very special calling and one I hope I’ll get to embrace one day, but the women who aren’t in that situation are just as precious in God’s eyes and just as valuable to His Kingdom.

      THAT SAID, haha…I do need to make a caveat by saying this: having the freedom to live our own individual lives the way we want is a good thing to a certain point. If the way we want to live our lives goes counter to God’s standards set in His Word, then it’s a major problem. We see this especially in the area of sexual morality…but I don’t even think you’re talking about that, haha. I just felt like I needed to bring it up so other readers wouldn’t get the wrong impression 😉

      And I totally agree with you: I so appreciate Carol’s perseverance, the way she got up time and time again, and the way she was so unfailingly compassionate, even to [AHEM, SPOILER ALERT] that One Particular Character At The Very End! She could’ve killed him outright, but she didn’t. I’m sure that took a lot of nobility. Like I said in the post, we could argue all day about women being in the military, but we should never argue about the importance of a heroine who stood up to her abusers and claimed her true identity with such dignity and courage.

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      1. I am honestly not sure what I believe regarding differing roles for men and women. I think . . . that the safest way to know what our individual “role” in life is, is just asking God to show us, and not assuming anything based off of our gender; because He creates us all (male and female) with such wildly differing gifts in such a crazy mixture.

        And yes! Agreed! We get our fulfillment from following GOD’S calling, whatever that may be! Marriage and children might have nothing to do with it & that’s totally okay.

        Yep, I’m just talking about the right to pursue your dreams, regardless of your gender, whether it’s a military career or a college education or what have you. Not talking about sexual morality at all 😉 (AND THANK THE LORD THERE WAS NO SUPERFLUOUS ROMANCE IN THIS FILM. Carol is a happy, contented, confident single woman and a lesson to us all!)

        You’re right! Haha, I didn’t even think about it! I’m glad she didn’t kill him, because that would have made me sad. Even though I hated him, it would’ve been an unpleasant note to end the film on. It was better that she was merciful to him . . . while still teaching him a memorable lesson, lol!

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  2. I’ve heard positive from other bloggers, but I think you’ve sold me, but like almost all superhero movies, I’ll probably wait until it’s on dvd.

    It’s not merely feminism that turns me off female superhero movies (and you said this didn’t display that), but it’s just what I’m looking for in an movie because to be honest, I think the main reason I prefer male superhero movies, is that I want to watch crushable guys, real heroes. That sounds really shallow, but male superheroes are like the epitome of attractiveness (not only looks). I don’t know how to explain, but yeah.

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    1. I think I know what you’re saying, haha. To each his own! I like male superheroes and female superheroes. Actually, I just like male heroes and female heroes. They don’t have to be super to be heroic.

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  3. Captain Marvel was so amazing! I actually ended up doing a cosplay for it, as well – I hope to blog about that soon. I can completely concur with your statements that this female superhero was not only interesting, but that it was about her as a character, not the fact that she was female. I loved Carol for being a hero, not because she was a female who beat up the men. She was a hero, and that’s why we loved her. A hero is a hero, and it doesn’t matter if they’re male or female. If they’re heart is heroic, then they are heroes. So glad I wasn’t the only one who felt this way! 🙂
    With joy,
    Emily 🙂

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