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Editor’s note: this review contains spoilers.

Captain Marvel: A Marvelous origin story for Marvel’s first female-led film.

Following the footsteps of DC’s Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel is a delight to watch. A tale of female empowerment with a 90s vibe, Captain Marvel is a film everyone should go see. Spoiler Alert

Mar 16, 2019

As the Marvel cinematic universe’s first female-led film, the stakes were high, especially after DC Action Comics already released their highly successful 2017 film Wonder Woman. There were fears that both would be too similar and follow the same trends with regard to female empowerment. However, Captain Marvel was undoubtedly worth the wait. Like Wonder Woman, it is humorous, heartfelt and filled with complex female and male characters. Yet, there are other aspects that make Captain Marvel truly really special.
Combining the powerful visuals expected of a Marvel blockbuster, a nostalgic 90s vibe and profound female empowerment all in a little more than two hours makes Captain Marvel a film like no other. Brie Larson is electrifying as Carol Danvers, a Kree Starforce member who, after finding herself on Earth in 1995, starts remembering her previous life on the planet, from her childhood to her career as an Air Force Pilot before being rescued by the Kree. Other female characters such as Maria Rambeau, played by Lashana Lynch, Danvers best friend and Air Force mentor, later discovered to be of Kree origin add to this theme of female empowerment. Despite being without superpowers, Maria as a single mother powering through her job as an African-American Air force pilot is crucial in more ways than one in helping Danvers save the day. Even without superpowers, Maria is another hero in the film, one who does not care about what others think. Everything she does is to be a good role model for her daughter.
Another important female character in the film is Carol Danvers’ mentor, Dr. Lawson or Mar-Vell, the person she most admires, portrayed by the remarkable Annette Bening. Although primarily seen through Carol’s memories, the audience learns Dr. Lawson was a scientist developing a powerful engine. She worked closely with both Danvers and Rambeau in the Air Force, becoming a mentor figure to the latter. Constantly in Carol’s memories, her philosophy is to try to end wars, not fight them. This philosophy, one that we later learn represented the true purpose of the engine’s creation, would influence Carol to become a warrior and protector. Without Dr. Lawson, Carol Danvers would not have been the superhero she was destined to be.
Equally important to Danvers' evolution as a warrior and superhero are the hilarious Nick Fury pre-eye loss, played by Samuel L. Jackson, the Skrull Leader Talos, played by Ben Mendelsohn as well as Danvers' mentor Yon Rogg, played by Jude Law. As seen through snippets of her memory from childhood, Carol was always told to control her emotions and actions, from her father to her male peers in the military academy. This continues throughout her life as a Kree warrior, as she is constantly reminded that emotions prevent her from reaching her true potential. However, after returning to Earth and learning the truth, surrounded by people who truly saw her value like Nick Fury and Maria, Carol releases her true power. By accepting the strength of her emotions, human traits she proudly learns to embrace, Carol defeats her enemies.
Her humanity, previously repressed in her life as a Kree warrior, reappears throughout the film through her failings. Everytime she fell short throughout her life — from a girl driving karts, to falling out of an obstacle course while military training — she would stand up, time and time again, with a greater purpose. It becomes her driving force, and a quality that reminds us that the most important thing to do is not just to succeed, but rather to keep trying despite the setbacks.
As a young woman, seeing a female character who gains her strength and power from her emotions and bounces back after experiencing setbacks is amazing. Comparing this to the recent Serena Williams’ Nike advertisement about letting our “crazy” out, I felt both touched upon the absurdity of a certain standard for women. Specifically, women are frequently told to control their emotions and aspirations, or else they may seem crazy. However, as both the advertisement and film demonstrate, the strength of our emotions and aspirations do not restrict us, rather they make us more powerful. Our emotions are what make us who we are, as how they made Carol Danvers into the most powerful Avenger of all.
Sara Maria Monsalve is a columnist. Email her at
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