Captain Marvel Is More Than A Film Empowering Women
Clever writing shows how badass Captain Marvel is, but so much more.
Spoiler Alert: There will be a deep analysis of some critical plot points of the film.
In the age of #MeToo and progressive equality, there are many notable films that have certain tones that echo those ideals. For me, I see these tones in the numerous superhero films that I watch.
Like so many others, I follow the Marvel Universe films and get excited with every installment they make.
Their most recent was the film Captain Marvel, a woman getting supernatural powers and was caught in between a war between two alien races.
Overall it’s a fantastic film with 79% on Rotten Tomatoes and 62% of the audience liking the film. If you love Marvel films, you’ll love this. If you like comedy, you’ll also get a number of chuckles out of this.
But it’s that particular witty writing that I want to be talking about today.
For sure there are numerous instances of empowering women. For example, Carol Danvers (Vers), Maria Rambeau, and Dr. Wendy Lawson are the only women we see on the air force and command commendable respect from us and the characters throughout the film. Carol and Maria are inseparable and want to make a difference and play pivotal roles as air force pilots, but also in fighting against the Kree. Furthermore, Dr. Lawson was no slouch either, setting this plan in motion, working on a way to fight back against the Kree and more.
Time and again we can definitely see a tonne of equality but also seeing women doing badass things.
But the beauty with writing and film is the fact that everything can be interpreted in different ways. And while the film is certainly providing a means of empowering women, deeper analysis of the film shows more.
The biggest being another theme that is brought up subtly and that is emotions.
Emotions Are What Held Carol Back On Several Occasions
Throughout the entire film, Carol struggled a lot with her emotions. The first time it was brought up was with the sparring with her mentor Yon Rogg. The results of the fight ended with Yon Rogg pushing Carol’s buttons who soon lashed out and released a photon blast from her hands, knocking him back.
It’s only natural that a superhero with power beyond imagination is to be held back by something. If the superhero doesn’t have some kind of conflict, we get a character like Superman, someone with virtually no weaknesses and no real dilemma.
While Captain Marvel is Marvel’s Superman in many respects, Captain Marvel had layers upon layers of barriers that she needed to break through. Her emotions held her back significantly because of her amnesia and her desire to piece things together. The fact that she lost all of her memories was a point of frustration for her, but also for her comrade Maria.
Another barrier that was shaken was Carol’s own belief system as we realize later on in the film that the Kree were trying to assert dominance over the galaxy and the Skrull didn’t like that. The Skrull were painted in a negative light all the way up to the final fight where Carol realized everything.
The development of Carol is not only showing Carol’s emotional strength but it also sends a message to the rest of us. That there are two sides to every story and that even the story that we are told may not be real at all.
For the length of the film, we are told that the Skrull are bad and Kree are good. Carol even mentioning at one point that the Kree were a race of “superheroes.” And it’s hard to argue that. Especially when looking at previous films with the Kree involved. Typically the Kree have always been retaliating and reacting to things around them. An example is the Kree chasing the Guardians of the Galaxy after Rocket stole some batteries.
And when we see Kree doing particularly evil stuff, they tend to be extremists. An example is Ronan The Accuser, who was nothing short of a warlord with his own personal agenda.
To see the Kree now doing clearly wicked things under the Kree name shatters the character’s perceptions in the film but also ours as an audience. We realize now that the Kree are more sinister and are deeply manipulative individuals.
Emotions Are What Kept Fury In S.H.I.E.L.D. & Start The Avengers
At the beginning of the film, we run into Nick Fury as an agent of SHIELD and judging by his entire attitude at the beginning, he wasn’t that passionate about his job. He didn’t believe in alien races or intergalactic threats at all. On top of that, he wasn’t exactly throwing himself into danger, unlike the other instances we see Fury in other Marvel films.
He was on the verge of quitting his position until he ran into Carol Danvers who opened his eyes to the world little by little. The fact he encountered a Skrull made him a firm believer. Or at least that he can’t deny that that happened.
The events of the film led Fury to grow as a character and a few things he said in previous Marvel films start to make sense. For one we learned the true nature of what happened to his eye (which I found hilarious) but also when Fury was introduced at the end of the Iron Man film:
“I am Iron Man”. You think you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.
Fury’s encounter with Carol empowered him to seek out more superheroes, but ultimately to start a passion project. This project was eventually brought up in The Avengers as The Avengers Initiative. This was a project Fury pushed hard as the Director of SHIELD.
All of this points back to that experience and what we can learn from Fury’s overall development is this: A shift in emotions can shift how we view our work.
In today’s society, we have a lot of people who don’t really care about the work they do. They feel completely disengaged from the work. It’s why many people aren’t heavily involved in the company they work with and often wonder what their work even helps the company with in the grand scheme of things.
Furthermore, our own performances hinge on our emotions as well. It’s why so many writers wear headphones these days. They block out noise and allow us to be calm and focused.
But something as simple as someone coming in our lives and affecting our work can cause dramatic shifts. We’re one event away from finding inspiration and taking matters into our own hands to create something amazing.
And it doesn’t have to be something as grandiose as a superhero crashing into a Blockbuster to change our entire career. Something as simple as looking at a problem differently, or doing some exercises to improve our mood, or even having deep and meaningful conversations with people we care about. These things can change our entire disposition and how we view our work.
Emotions Are What Ultimately Destroyed Yon Rogg
And lastly, we have Yon Rogg and his development over the film. He’s a great strategist but also quite hypocritical. For someone who explained time and again to control emotions to Carol, he was quite expressive in a number of instances during combat.
Near the end of the film, he killed a Skrull posing as Carol after he revealed he put some of his blood in her to save her. This suggests he had deeper personal ties to her and why he was always close by every step of the way. But also why he couldn’t show any kind of restraint at all when Carol realized that he was manipulating her the entire time.
But all of his emotional outbursts reached the end when Carol sent him back to Hala. The film was setting itself up for an epic fight between student vs. mentor and instead, we got not even a two-minute fight scene.
It was disorienting for sure, but looking further into that scene can reveal the true dangers of this direction.
For one, Yon Rogg lost a student because he let his emotions get in the way time and again. He wanted the war to persist so he shot Mar-Vell. He saved Carol’s life after she shot the engine and absorbed that supernatural power. He served as guidance and support for Carol because of his vested interest in her. He lied to Carol because of his deep hatred for the Skrull and his devotion to expanding the Kree Empire.
He wasn’t beat up in the physical sense like we expect all villains to end up in. For one, the film took an interesting turn in that this was a first critical villain that wasn’t beat up traditionally but rather psychologically.
When Yon Rogg was placed in that pod and he told Carol that he had nothing to present to the Supreme Intelligence, we could hear the level of disappointment, despair, and even fear in his voice and face. He was emotionally broken by the fact his terrible deeds came to light and that Carol wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of getting beat up by his former student.
What all of this reveals about our emotions is that they allow us to do crazy things and that our actions and decisions matter significantly in the relationships we have. But also in the depth of that relationship. It’s worth looking at the complexity of relationships and depending on the stages we are at, what we say and do can make a huge difference.
For example, when Carol defected and fought against the Kree was a deeply emotional decision. Yon Rogg hurt Carol on a deep level via manipulation. But what also hurt was the fact he was close to her. Both parties involved were deeply hurt by one another betrayal. Compare that to the rest of the Starforce and Carol, where their relationship was “we’ve gone on a mission once.”
In the end, this teaches us to look at the quality of our relationships but also what’s the best way and wrong way to build them. Of course the relationships we see in the film kind of go without saying what we should and shouldn’t do, but some things aren’t so simple.
Certain actions can be taken out of context. I for one can actually feel sympathy for Yon Rogg and his loss of a student. At the same time, I feel sympathy for Carol for being manipulated and controlled.
I could be dissecting this film for a lot longer, but in the end, there are a number of emotional points in the film worth looking at. And each one has its own lessons. But the biggest lesson of all from this film is this:
Be who you want to be, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.