Brie Larson as Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel: An Analysis of a Phenomenal Superhero

Right now in the MCU, Captain Marvel is the newest addition to their long list of phenomenal superheroes. 22 films into the lineup, Captain Marvel  is actually the first female-led Marvel superhero movie. 

This article is going to talk about her comic book history, movie, and much more. Beware for spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Captain Marvel or Avengers Endgame.

History

First Mar-Vell, then Danvers

There are multiple characters who have taken on the mantle of Captain Marvel in Marvel comics. The original captain was actually a man named Captain Mar-Vell, an alien who fought to protect Earth from multiple threats. His human alias was Dr. Walter Lawson and he worked closely with Carol Danvers.  Here, Carol worked for the U. S. Air Force. Carol gained her powers when she was caught up in an explosion involving Dr. Walter Lawson which turned her into a mix of human and alien. With her resulting powers, she took on the name Ms. Marvel and kept that name for years until she finally picked  up the mantle of Captain Marvel. Throughout her appearances in the comics, she teamed up with everyone from the X-Men to the Avengers.

Danvers’ backstory

Carol Danvers in the MCU, however, has a different story. Hers starts out on the planet Hala, which houses members of the Kree Empire. The Kree are a technologically advanced race of aliens whose apparent mission is to defeat their enemy, the Skrulls. Carol believed herself to belong to the Kree Empire and who fed her lies about her origins and the extent of her power. This was easy to do because Carol’s commander, Yon-Rogg, exploited her amnesia and brainwashed her.

While tasked to rescue a Kree operative from the Skrulls, Carol was captured. Talos, a Skrull commander, used a machine that looked through Carol’s memories. She had flashes of a life she didn’t remember or understand. Eventually she did break free from her imprisonment and landed on Earth where she met agent Nick Fury. The two followed leads to find out what the Skrull were after and discovered that Carol was a pilot who was thought to have died years ago in a plane crash along with the scientist, Wendy Lawson.

The rest of the story

To find answers, they tracked down Maria Rambeau, who was the last person to see Carol and Dr. Lawson alive. At Maria’s place, Talos appeared and revealed that Dr. Lawson was a Kree scientist that turned against the empire and was helping the Skrulls find refuge. Furthermore, the group discovered that it was Yon-Rogg that killed Dr. Lawson and almost everything Carol thought she knew was a lie. Carol was told that her powers originated from the Kree Empire, when in truth, she gained them from an explosion that involved the tesseract — an infinity stone.

The group eventually found Dr. Lawson’s lab, which was suspended in outer space and made invisible to avoid discovery. Unfortunately, the Kree soldiers and Yon-Rogg quickly caught up to them. They now knew that Carol had regained her memories which resulted in a huge final battle to the tune of “Just a Girl” by No Doubt. 

Carol and her ragtag squad won (of course) and sent Yon-Rogg packing back to the empire as a failure. Carol left Earth to help the Skrulls find a new home and the tesseract went back with Fury.

Personality

Powerful and emotional

At the start of her journey, Carol — called ‘Vers’ by the Kree — was powerful but limited. From the opening scenes of the movie, we saw her training with Yon-Rogg. While she got some good hits in, she was ultimately overpowered. Yon-Rogg told her she was too emotional and that her feelings curbed her potential. She accepted this as truth but it was clear that Carol wasn’t too bent on following rules. She still had a deep curiosity about the memories that she kept seeing. When she landed  on Earth, Yon-Rogg told her not to engage with the Skrulls but she did that anyway. It was clear that even at the height of her brainwashing, she still had a little rebel in her. 

When she discovered the truth about herself and came to accept that, she also acknowledged that the Kree held her back. Carol was strong all along — and that included the times when she was only human. We get a lot of flashbacks to her being “too emotional” and rising to face the odds even when people tell her that it’s impossible. All of that kind of comes together and lets us know that Carol is a total BAMF and is owning it.

The humor

Even though she was in a serious situation, she had time for jokes. There were small moments when her humor really shined through. In her fight to escape the Skrulls, she mocked one of their battle cries and pulled a pretty memorable funny face. Her friendship with Fury also brought out her teasing nature. Even while fighting, she had time to include a quick quip once or twice.

Reception

Box office

Depending on who you ask, Captain Marvel was either a hit or miss. It certainly did numbers in the box office and was called an “origin story that makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula.” However, reviews from both critics and the general audience is a mixed bag. The movie definitely had a huge girl power element and while I personally loved that, there’s definitely some that didn’t. Criticisms ranged from concerns about why Brie Larson didn’t “smile more” to interpreting the film as having an agenda to a cash grab.

Strongest Avenger Debate

That isn’t to say that the movie doesn’t deserve some criticism though. The topic of ‘who is the strongest Avenger’ is a pretty hot debate (I’m looking at you Thor and Hulk. I remember Ragnarok). Many people give Carol the title and others vehemently disagree and I think that has a lot to do with her movie as well as her role in Avengers Endgame. Thanos as a villain, for example, has been hinted at and hyped up for over a decade. We saw his influence and power working behind the scenes in almost every Marvel movie to date. The audience was wary of him and his power before we even met him. 

Briefly teased

On the other hand, Captain Marvel was only briefly teased at the end of Avengers Infinity War and then had her origin movie released only a month before Avengers Endgame. Unlike the other characters, the only person she has a connection to was Fury. Even Black Panther who is also a newer character has more connections due to his involvement in Captain America: Civil War. For those who aren’t comic fans, it’s a bit tough to see how powerful of a character she is because there wasn’t enough time to establish that. Her role in Endgame was also pretty small. She shows up to save Tony and Nebula while they’re stranded in space but then goes off to who knows where until the very end.

It would be a whole other story if Carol had been introduced earlier and had small cameos in other films. For such a big role to be added in so late definitely feels a bit off. There is bound to be more content with Carol in the next installment of Marvel movies and series so her character is bound to get more fleshed out. A lot of people thought she’d fill the shoes of Steve Rogers and take up his role as a new ‘captain’ but we know that it’s Sam Wilson who has that job. It’ll for sure be worth it to see where Carol’s story goes from here.

If you’ve seen Captain Marvel, tell us if you liked it! Whose story are you most excited to see next?

Can’t get enough of Captain Marvel? Check out our other articles on her.

Featured image credit: Marvel Entertainment

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