Captain Marvel is my favorite Marvel movie to date. There, I said it. I mean I saw it a few days ago, had no desire to review it (not because it was bad, I just don't... have to review everything, I've come to realize)- I was perfectly happy to just let it be. But I'm still thinking about it, and I think I know why. This movie was uplifting and inspiring, and after letting it percolate a bit I have some thoughts. Mainly though it comes down to this- Carol Danvers never gives up. That's it. Period.
Well nothing ground breaking there, right? I mean lots of movies carry that theme- never give up, keep fighting, etc. But there's something about the way this movie went about it- it took the Marvel formula and upended it a bit, showing us that superhero movies can be just a bit more sophisticated, a bit more relevant. And it sure is relevant, given all the debate over this movie and feminism and all the rest. I don't want to get into all that- I just liked the movie, period. But at the same time I can't just leave it there- I have to say a little more.
This post will have spoilers for Captain Marvel, so if you haven't seen it yet you might want to go watch it. Then come back!
Carol never gives up. There, I said it again, but that's it. I'm not ashamed to admit that I might have had a tear in my eye towards the end, when she got up after being leveled by Annette Bening's character the Supreme Intelligence. And all those early memory sequences suddenly made sense- Carol crashing on a go cart, falling off her bike, struggling to climb the rope in basic training- all those moments. And we see that she never gave up when she was defeated- and she doesn't give up now. Carol is not a Kree warrior stranded on Earth- she's a human, from around here, and she happens to not be a quitter.
I always think of all the Olympian athletes who go to the Games and fall short. Sounds harsh, right? But they're not losers. They're better than 99% of people in the world at whatever it is they do- but there can be only three medal winners. The point is- they went. They gave it all their all. And that's what Carol is showing to moviegoers- many of whom are kids, which is my next point. Who says comics can't be inspiring? Or educational? Okay maybe you don't like being hammered over the head with a "message" when you go to a movie- that's fine, I don't either. But again, here, I was moved. When Carol got up with that look on her face- as if to say you may be more powerful than me, but you can't defeat me- because I will get back up. Yeah I might have teared up a little.
The other thing is something I saw in an interview with Kelly Sue DeConnick, who was a big influence on this movie. She said in an interview that a certain scene towards the end will be the subject of Women's Studies and academic papers- she doesn't specify which scene, but I have a good idea what she's talking about. And I may be off base here, but the other scene that I loved was when Yon-Rogg challenged Carol physically at the end. He knows he can't beat her, other than physically, so he falls back on the challenge, on the training montages we see early on, where's he's always just a little better as a straight up fighter. No super powers.
The kicker is, Carol says no. And then she blasts him into next week. And I almost cheered. I mean come on, how many times have we seen the trope where the student has to defeat their master to advance, to win the day? Luke, you must face Vader to be a Jedi, and all that. No. Carol tells Yon- Rogg she has nothing to prove to him. She doesn't have to beat him in a physical fight. Why should she? Those are his terms. Why does she have to follow his rules? The answer is- she doesn't.