“War is a universal language.” Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), with his eye still intact, utters these profound words to yet-to-fully become Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Diversity does not strip away empathy. Soldiers have families and loved ones. The side they fight for does not matter. Rarely can it be said for superhero films that their plot is reflective and layered. “Captain Marvel” breaks that stereotype. It masterfully voices very much needed truths. Women are humans. Humanity can be represented by women.
A mainstream film is using its large platform to spread these ideas as fast and with as much impact as it possibly can. Many mainstream Hollywood films have such ideologies planted in their plot, sometimes called “Liberal Hollywood.” However, usually it appears banal, or worse phony. A strong woman superhero half naked and sexualized is not a figure of empowerment: It is idealized objectification. The depiction of the ‘other’ as better, as superior to human nature is unrealistic and paradoxically dehumanizing. We are all capable of empathy. In the same way, unfortunately, we are all capable of horror.
“Captain Marvel” does not disappoint. An homage to humanity, typical of uplifting superhero films, it portrays war as a dreadful consequence of humanity’s destructive nature. However, it also shows the ability of humans to overcome their darkness through empathy and intelligence. Mankind is represented by a woman. Captain Marvel is a superheroine. She shows humanity’s potential and power. Empathy, reason, physical and emotional strength are her human virtues.
She is Nick Fury’s last chance to save the world. She is his last call before Thanos’ apocalyptic disaster. A woman will save the world. That is the definition of empowerment. Continuously reminded of the weakness emotions represent, Captain Marvel never lets go of them. Women are weak because they feel. Men feel as well. Men should be given the freedom to feel. Emotions are powerful and define humanity. Quite cliché, but still powerful, what is deemed her weakness becomes her true strength. The world is saved by her emotional intelligence.
War is universal. Women and men can both understand it. Different nationalities do not elude the devastation of war. War is human. We all are responsible. We all can change it. The future is in our hands. “Captain Marvel” is a woman empowering film. It is a human empowering film. “Captain Marvel” is thoughtful and complex. Nevertheless, it maintains its mainstream entertaining quality, making it the best medium to convey such ideologies of equity.
The site aggregator Rotten Tomatoes rated it 80% fresh on 369 reviews. Clearly a critically acclaimed film, the critics recognized its value. The film is dominating at the box office; its message will succeed. The magic of mainstream is operating.
It could be argued that art should be free of propagandist ideologies. Yet, art is humanity. Humanity cannot be freed from its ideas. The ability to evaluate, dig, understand, and doubt is possibly the most marvelous human quality. Art is its medium.
Furthermore, when the propaganda conveys the righteousness of equity, the importance of empathy, and the horrifying obliteration of war, nothing can be said against it. “Captain Marvel,
Jacqueline Pantano can be contacted at