Marvel’s newest superhero soars to new heights with a unique basis of friendship, diversity and strength
O Captain! My Captain!
Academy Award winner Brie Larson was front and center in the much anticipated release of “Captain Marvel” (2019). The film made history this last weekend, earning multiple awards from the biggest opening weekend revenue for a female lead movie and sixth biggest opening in cinematic history, according to Men’s Health.
Larson’s take on Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel captivated audiences in heroic fashion.
The creators of the film took a relevant approach to some of today’s most prominent social issues. The film contains diverse characters, a nod to the importance of friendship and an accurate portrayal of women’s strength.
Originally, the superhero was a male figure. The Wrap reports, “… in the comics Carol Danvers isn’t the first Captain Marvel, or even the second — she’s the seventh.” The choice of making the cinematic version of “Captain Marvel” was a risky decision for the franchise, as Larson became Marvel’s first female superhero to have her own movie.
But the stage already seemed set for Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. With the release of recent superhero movies that were rich with diverse character representation, the world was ready to see Larson star in a historically male role.
The 2017 DC Comics film, “Wonder Women,” charmed audiences with high praise, as the female heroine opened the conversation for more diversity throughout the superhero genre. Shortly after, the 2018 hit film “Black Panther” enthralled audiences by telling a narrative about black culture.
This opened the door for more representation of genders and different ethnicities grabbing the lead role in superhero movies. Marvel’s risk of spending millions to back a female-led superhero film reaped many rewards, as the box office can attest. The discussion of whether audiences were ready to see a female superhero was officially closed to contention. According to Variety, “‘Captain Marvel” shuts the door on that conversation. It slams the door, in fact,” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “… You look at ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Captain Marvel,’ they are good films put together by strong creative teams. That’s the difference.”
Although “Wonder Woman” helped ready audiences for the arrival of “Captain Marvel,” there is a gaping difference in the way Marvel approached a female heroine versus how DC Comics did. While Wonder Woman sported a revealing suit of armor, which looked more like a corset rather than a layer of protection, Captain Marvel’s suit is fully armored and when need be, a helmet appears. The suit shows barely any skin, making her less vulnerable in fight scenes.
The decision to make Larson’s character not overtly sexualized spoke to the nature of the film. Rather than focusing on the fact that Captain Marvel was a female, Marvel was determined to focus on her being a superhero. Her suit of armor is ready for combat just like the male heroes that came before her. This choice symbolizes that Captain Marvel is just as strong as her fellow Avengers.
While Wonder Women’s comedic relief came when men drooled over her beauty, Captain Marvel’s came from her making comedic quips to her co-stars, similar to other Marvel films. Marvel’s approach to a female heroine focuses on her superpowers rather than on her gender playing a factor. This advanced approach to seeing women as equals proves exactly why Marvel consistently dominates DC Comics at the box office.
Another daring risk the franchise took was to center the story around friendship, rather than a love story. By focusing on the friendships Captain Marvel makes, the film showcases the heroine’s personal growth, character building and search for inner strength.
The brilliance of this film runs deeper than having a strong female lead. The co-leads to “Captain Marvel” were similar in smarts and cunning nature. Played by Samuel Jackson and Lashana Lynch, the characters continue the Black Panther legacy.
Lynch plays Maria Rambo, a single mother and daring air force pilot. Jackson plays Fury, who has been a part of the Avengers franchise since the first film, “Iron Man” (2008). Fury serves as the unsung hero of the Avengers Initiative showcasing a black man who leads the revival to save all of mankind.
“Marvel Studios once again proves that stories combining diverse perspectives and different experiences make great movies that play to everybody. People crave representation,” said Cathleen Taff, Disney distribution chief, in an interview with Elle.
Through highlighting the bond of friendship and the hardships of war, “Captain Marvel” was loaded with a deeper meaning that comes across as simple but clear in a comic book-based movie.
This film travels through galaxies, breaks down cinematic barriers along the way and reimagines what it means to be strong. Stronger than any cosmic tests, the movie attests that strength is found in good moral character and the bonds of friendship.
Captain Marvel will return to the big screen April 26 in “Avengers: Endgame.”