Captain Marvel is finally on the big screen, and I am all for it. My kids and I love watching superhero movies, both those in theaters and older ones that have made their way to the small screen. We’re a family of geeks, so it might seem like it’s just another routine trip to the theater for us, but this one feels a bit more purposeful.
There are many reasons why comic books brought to life on film have been so successful, such as great origin stories, incredible action, big laughs, fun scares, insurmountable odds, heroic wins that the audience can feel down to their toes while teaching a life lesson or two. Everything is to the extreme, and the worlds of beloved characters—both the good and the bad—often weave together for even bigger experiences.
These days, a lot of us are looking for the kind of heroes we’ve been watching in these movies, but out here in the real world. The space between a darkened theater and the light of day is getting slimmer by the minute. So when a story like Captain Marvel finally makes it to the big screen, we have even more incentive to go see it.
Since I hate spoilers, I am not going to say much about her story, except that Carol Danvers’ is one that is very much about having power all along, and what you do with it. Are you not using all of your power? If not, who is holding you back? Others? Why are you letting them do that? Yourself? Why would you do that to yourself? And on the flip side, are you holding someone else’s power back? Why? What are you afraid of? What are you trying to prove and to whom?
These are important questions to ponder, particularly right now, when imbalances of power are being brought to light in the news on a daily basis.
I talk to my kids about everything (yes, even the awful stuff), so conversations about power are the norm around these parts. We’re excited to see how it’s addressed in the movie, especially because the titular character is heralded as the most powerful superhero in the Marvel Universe.
Speaking of power, the actress who plays Captain Marvel, Academy Award winner Brie Larson, has long been an advocate of equal rights for all (hooray, intersectional feminism!), and uses her influence to help achieve that goal. One day, she started really taking a look at the press that showed up to interview her about her films and the critics who were given early access in order to review them. She noticed it was primarily white, able-bodied males.
Ms. Larson did some sniffing around and discovered that it wasn’t that they were the only demographic who wanted to come, but they were the demographic receiving the most invitations. So she has made deliberate efforts to make press interviews more inclusive, and requested a more diverse collection of critics be given a voice in regards to their thoughts on her films. She has said:
Using her power to help give everyone equal opportunity is good, right? It’s what I’ve been talking to my kids about all along!
Not everyone thought so.
Some of that white male demographic responded to her words by trashing the film before it was even released in the hopes of hurting it at the box office, both over social media and on review site Rotten Tomatoes, dropping its “Want to See” rating into the toilet and flooding the site with negative pre-release reviews. It got to a point that the website had to change its review policy.
My kids love checking Rotten Tomato scores, so I told them what was going on. Both agreed with me that after witnessing this ugly attack, what feels right is supporting this film, it’s star. We have the power to do so by buying tickets, by sharing our own reviews of it after we see it.
As if another dive into the Marvel Universe, an exploration of the power we all hold, and supporting the victim on online trolling wasn’t enough motivation to get us to the theater, this is the first superhero movie in the franchise with a solo female lead. That is pretty awesome (and about damn time), but not just for the reason of seeing a representation of my gender up there on the big screen in a major, kickass role (I got that with DC Comic’s Wonder Woman a couple years ago).
What I’m extra excited about is that the focus isn’t on Captain Marvel’s gender being what makes her special; it’s who she is as a person and what she as an individual decides to do with her words, actions, power. She’s very human, just like us, with things to prove, people she loves, obstacles to overcome, choices to make.
She gets a seat at that table. And. She. Soars.
Carol Danvers is, in short, a marvel, and I cannot wait to witness that on the big screen with my son and daughter by my side.