I was ready to love Captain Marvel.
After all, DC’s Wonder Woman stands out in my mind as epic and chock full of some glorious common grace. Surely Marvel’s own feminst icon would be the same?
But, sadly, I was left disappointed with Carol Danvers.
Ironically, I viewed the film just after writing the article, “When I Grow Up, I’m Going to Be the Villain” for Lorehaven magazine’s spring edition. In that piece, I argue that the reason villains are often more attractive to children is because the heroes are boring by comparison. They are often stoic and lack sufficient reason to do good. After all, stoicism is an enemy of goodness and, therefore, has no place acting the hero.1
As stated so beautifully by Tyler Daswick in Relevant Magazine:
Brie Larson is a fine choice for Danvers, but Captain Marvel doesn’t give Larson a chance to bring any kind of original flair or panache to the expected hero poses and zingers. Larson has poise for days, but in comparison to Gal Gadot’s singular presentation of Wonder Woman’s idealism, naivete and determination, it’s clear Carol Danvers wasn’t as well-defined on the page. You just can’t describe her. We know Captain Marvel is a hero, but in the MCU, that’s not a personality trait. It’s a job.
As Daswick says, there’s no need to pick on Brie Larson. Anyone who has seen the film Room will know she’s an amazing actress. This is a Marvel problem.
So let’s just say it straight: the writing for this film was a mess. They pitched Danvers’ character arc as first being abused by her so-called commander, Yon-Rogg. He told her repeatedly to suppress her emotions in order to have success in battle. And yet this was not believable. What emotions? She had some simmering-below-the-surface moments here and there, but was she a highly emotional female? Not even close. With a couple small (too small given the situation) emotional spikes when she learned more of her own backstory, Danvers remains, well . . . stoic throughout the entire film.
One could make the argument that it was because of her mental abuse as a Kree soldier that Danvers appeared so devoid of proper feeling. But even in the flashbacks of her life before the Kree, Danvers was not much more expressive.
She seems to overcome this mental block and realizes the full potential of her powers which then leads her to be . . . still stoic.
Shouldn’t she throw off this persona now that she is no longer under Kree influence? Or is this what Marvel-Disney thinks feminine strength looks like? If that is the case, I can’t help but wonder if this is an instance of extreme feminism in which a “strong” woman is depicted as a strong, silent type of man.
(And is this a trend? Didn’t Emma Watson’s Belle in the live action Beauty and the Beast also lack appropriate expression at times? Yet more offensive still due to age was little Milly Farrier in Disney’s new Dumbo.)
Not only was Yon-Rogg’s abuse not believable or backed by Danver’s actual character portrayal, but the idea that one’s head and heart are at odds is a false dichotomy. They demonized the idea of being logical against following your heart. Logic and using your head are good gifts. God is logical because he does not contradict himself. He is not a God of chaos.
What of emotions? Of course there are times when they lead us astray, but that is not because emotions in and of themselves are bad, but because we as sinful people misuse them. We have only to go so far as the Psalms to teach our hearts how to be emotional in a way that glorifies God. When we marry logic and emotions, we better understand who God is. He is both a meticulous planner as well as a passionate father in more ways that we will ever know. And we are his people, made in his image. Unlike animals that were given only emotions ruled by nature alone, humans have the ability to reason and lead our emotions by our intellect.
When the credits rolled for Captain Marvel, I pitied Carol Danvers. She was injured, kidnapped, and abused by an alien race. Yet, instead of learning catalyzing truth, her abuse only directs her into more deception in the end.