Marvel moves into 21st century with “Captain Marvel”

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As I shuffle down the hall past my brother’s room, I stop and stare at his Spider-Man comforter. Growing up, I would constantly find myself lingering at his door, peering in at the larger-than-life superhero embossed in both his sheets and his identity. My brother wanted nothing more than to be Spider-Man, and I don’t blame him— I did too.

But I knew there was no chance I could be Spider-Man, so I returned to my own room filled with pink decor and my Hannah Montana bedsheets. My brother’s opportunities were limitless when it came to confiding in a superhero since they were all men. For me, I had nobody but the faint traces of empowering women like Amelia Earhart, who was generously given a mere two paragraphs in one of my history textbooks. I wanted my superhero—a courageous woman who would change the entire course of superhero history.  

Fast forward 15 years and it’s International Women’s Day. This year I found myself in a comfortable reclining chair at the movie theaters, scrolling through the dozens of pictures on Instagram with one hand and eating double butter movie popcorn with the other. I enter with high expectations as I wait for “Captain Marvel” to begin—after all, this is Marvel’s first movie featuring a female superhero as the main character. I’m aware of the raving reviews every Marvel movie gets, so my skepticism is piqued, especially after reading the terrible reviews “Captain Marvel” has already reeled in.

According to CBR.com, 26.3 percent of votes rated the film 1/10 compared to the 23.7 percent rating the film 10/10. In comparison, “Captain America: Civil War” averaged a 7.8/10 on IMDb, “Black Panther” scored a 7.3/10, and “Thor: Ragnarok” scored a 7.9/10. Rotten Tomatoes had to remove thousands of audience reviews this week after online trolls submitted fake reviews before the movie was even released. Should we be entirely surprised that a movie centered around  a strong female superhero was “review bombed”? Either way, I was cynical about the content of this film after reading the reviews—would I truly get my fearless female superhero after all?

An hour into the film, I find myself choking back tears as a lump forms at the back of my throat. On the big screen, Brie Larson’s character, Carol, is reminded by her lifelong best friend, Maria, of her strength and worth as the two characters embrace in a much anticipated reunion. I feel the same sense of sisterhood and female empowerment I experienced the first time I watched “Frozen.”  

I’ll try to spare the details since I don’t want to ruin a movie that I am urging everyone to see immediately (seriously, I’m already watching it again tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m.), but it was absolutely fitting I saw this on International Women’s Day. It was a pleasant surprise to see women be centered in a Marvel film, all the other male characters falling in line behind them.

Moreover, Brie Larson sported a classic and tasteful superhero suit that made her look both powerful and intimidating. During the scene when she is cat-called, the audience gets their sweet satisfaction when she steals the motorcycle of the cat-caller and leaves him absolutely shocked. What I enjoyed most was seeing Brie Larson continually show men up every time they underestimated her strength.

Multiple times throughout the movie, Larson’s character was continuously being punished for her inability to control her emotions. Her male mentor even chastises her for being too emotional, saying that it was the single most hindering trait she had. We’ve all heard this narrative before: Women are too emotional to be in office, to be surgeons, to be anything but a compliant housewife. But Larson’s character literally breaks these shackles society places on women for being “too emotional,” and ultimately uses her passion and courage to be the superhero we all wanted her to be.

As I leave the movie theatre awestruck and very pleased with the $12 I spent, I am filled with optimism for how this movie will play out with the younger generations. Larson’s character is intelligent, charming, brave and compassionate. She defies all previously assigned roles played by women in the Marvel universe. She answers to no one but herself, and is depended on by the most important and influential characters in the Marvel world. With a superhero like her, perhaps more girls will be encouraged to manifest Captain Marvel’s undeniable strength and female empowerment—the true superpowers that made her victorious in the film.

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