3 Stars – Empowering
When Stan Lee created the character of Captain Mar-Vell in 1967, he made him male. Originally he was a Kree who came to earth as a spy by taking the identity of a scientist Walter Lawson to see if humans were a danger. However, when he went native and self-identified as a human the Kree rejected him. This form of the character in the comic book era never really found an audience. So it is understandable that in this 2019 film version, the directing and writing team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck not only change the gender of the Captain but also the species. As everyone knows walking into the film Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is a powerful human woman.
In this reboot of the story Vers is no longer Ms Marvel but is instead a warrior in the Kree civilization who cannot remember her identity. Under the abusive tutoring of Commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), Vers is being taught to use her special strength in service of the artificial intelligence that rules the Kree. Sent on a mission to Planet C-53, to recover the work of Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening), who has developed a power source that is greatly desired by both the Kree and the Skrulls, Vers learns that her full name is Carol Danvers.
Without spoiling the way all of this occurs or the unexpected twists in the storyline, it is clear that the film has several messages. Similar to the empowering of the persons from African descent seen in Black Panther, this film portrays a powerful woman who has been systematically denied her place in a male-dominant world. Finding and owning her own identity and strength, Carol Danvers is able to absorb the powers used against her. Similar to the suit worn by the Black Panther, her ability the absorb the power of the attacker and then use it against them is a clear message to those who often feel powerless in this unjust world.
In a similar way, the artificial intelligence of the Kree had implanted a device in Carol to make her think that her power came from a source outside of herself. It is transformative when she realizes that she is far more powerful on her own and removes both the device and the myth from her head. Again the message is clear that we cannot be empowered by others giving us their power, but by being truly powerful ourselves.
A third lesson given us is that we are often led to see the world from the perspective of our peers and often accept their enemies as our own. This film clearly exposes the foolishness of such a path.
As is true of the Marvel Universe there is usually a teaser in the credits that encourage us to come to the next installment of the story. In this teaser we are told that Captain Marvel is going to be a part of the next Marvel film the Avengers: Endgame. She is a great and needed addition if there is any hope to restore those that were lost to Thanos when he achieved his goal to remove one half of all living beings in Avengers: Infinity War.
It is difficult to grasp the origin story of this newly rebooted Captain Marvel in part because she cannot remember who she is. Did you find the story difficult to follow because of that or was it of more interest as the facts were slowly revealed?
The unusual twist in the film assumes that most viewers are unaware of the intergalactic war. Were you surprised or did you already know? How did your knowledge impact your enjoyment of the story?
The promise that Captain Marvel made to return to the home planet of the Kree and destroy the Supreme Intelligence implies that she has a chance at doing so. What is it about her super powers that would lead her to assume that? Is it pure courage or her super power? Or is there some other reason you answer as you do?