[Review] ‘Captain Marvel’: How The First Avenger Captures Another Essential Superhero First

I’m not going to lie to you. Before news broke of a live-action Captain Marvel, I knew absolutely nothing about the comics.

I know, you can stone me later. I took steps to familiarize myself with the storylines, but twenty minutes in, I was still confused as hell. What war is she in? What life can’t she remember? Who is “Supreme Intelligence?” I soldiered on and with $500 million worldwide earnings after just one weekend, I’m happy to confirm that Captain Marvel is indeed 100% worth going to see. Here’s why:

***Warning: Spoilers Ahead***

 

THE SOUNDTRACK

It’s frustrating in theaters to be surrounded by tame audiences who don’t immediately groove in their seats to “Waterfalls” by TLC, but that’s what multiple viewings are for right? My people are out there right? Regardless, CM both subtly and not so subtly incorporates a 90s femme anthem, adding the perfect compliment to Carol’s (Brie Larson) journey into her past.

 

MARIA AND MONICA RAMBEAU

Maria (Lashana Lynch)  is an excellent example of how to write a supporting character of color without making her a 2-dimensional token. She kicks ass as a fighter-pilot and is raising her daughter, Monica (Akira Akbar) to do the same. Whether or not Photon will make an appearance in ‘Endgame’ remains to be seen, but I doubt Marvel would make such an intentional spotlight on the character if they didn’t have future plans to continue her story.

THE FIRST AVENGER

As the first avenger, it’s fitting that she be the first female avenger to have her own film, but the true marvel is in the film’s commentary on gender roles in power and heroism. Throughout the film, we witness Carol Danvers overcome a multitude of male figures holding her back… because they can. While CM addresses this head on within the story, it’s execution serves as a far more telling example. Comic book writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick puts it perfectly:

See Also

“None of us have trouble seeing ourselves reflected in white men because we’ve always been told that, that is the default. That’s the default human being and you can cross-identify. And because of that, we are always centering their pain and their comfort. That’s basic humanity. That’s how we’ve been taught to do it.

When we see authentic culture reflecting back at us, we realize that heroism is not exclusively the domain of masculinity. There’s nothing inherently masculine about power, or sacrifice, or the power fantasy, or about the sci-fi aesthetic or about the ethical ideals of these superheroes. When you actually see, what you didn’t quite let yourself realize you were missing, it is a shockingly emotional experience.” – The Hollywood Reporter

And yet, CM encapsulates this sentiment as she’s feminine without the aid of revealing costumes, fighting styles typically reserved on-screen for women (Catwoman, Black Widow, etc.), or a blatant juxtaposition of femininity through the eyes of an unnecessary male love interest (i.e. Wonder Woman – sorry not sorry). At times, she actually presents, dare I say it, masculine without explanation or apology other than the fact that she’s a pilot/soldier/overall kick-ass human being. CM succeeds in presenting a woman with a full interior world trying to find her place in the outer one without shying away from the big fights, cocky banter, and badass stare-downs. And I dig that.

The origin is exciting, the present (Carol will join the Avengers in Endgame) is exciting and her future is outrageously exciting. In an interview, Larson has hinted at the possibility of Kamala Khan having a role in a sequel. Pakistani-Muslim representation saving the world? Sign me UP!!! CM inspires Marvel and superhero films in general to elevate how we ingest femininity and expertly challenges patriarchal behaviors while providing good, clean fun. As we travel deeper into the MCU universe, it’s only more and more exciting to see how that evolves. Higher, further, faster we go!

Captain Marvel is now playing in theaters everywhere!

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