Why I Was Moved By The Emotional Quotient of Captain Marvel
I found myself fuming with the weekend approaching because I still had no tickets for Captain Marvel. Not because I was procrastinating, there were hardly any available. I mean, there was no way in hell I was watching Brie Larson nearly combusting into flames and glowing like a phoenix while craning my neck from first-row seats! And then it occurred to me. This was a good thing. Finally, we have a Marvel film, dedicated to telling the story of a female superhero, co-written and co-directed by a woman, and it was running houseful in theatres. It was imperative for it to do bloody well, so we can keep seeing women whoop some serious ass on the big screen.
Sometimes I do wish that especially women didn’t have to do this mental math before going out and enjoying a genre which was earlier regaled as a man’s domain – fighting crime, stopping wars, saving the planet. I was anyway prepared to be bowled over by the action sequences in the movie, what also surprisingly stopped me in the tracks was its emotional quotient. You see when we first meet Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), she is a Starforce member, a warrior soldier on the planet of Hala, where she is being trained to fight alien infiltrators. The audience is made privy to the fact that she has superhuman strength, and that her commander and mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) wants her to keep her feelings in check so that she can reach her full potential.
Finally, we have a Marvel film, dedicated to telling the story of a female superhero, co-written and co-directed by a woman, and it was running houseful in theatres.
Even when she separates from her team during a mission and lands on Earth, her supervisor tries to weigh her down saying she needs to be reunited with the team to finish what they started – “You can’t let your emotions override your judgement.” This wasn’t just a diktat to a woman in uniform who couldn’t remember her past and her identity, the statement rings true even in our daily lives where a frighteningly overbearing patriarchal culture tries to convince both women and men that we would be much better off without our emotions. That suppressing our vulnerabilities will help us channel our energies in a much productive way. Why should we ever act intuitively or say what we really feel?
And yet we see her find her way back to her past where she was Carol, jogging her memories as a US Air force pilot, her childhood affected adversely by unforgiving parents, her time at the military camp when the men kept telling her she will never be good enough to fly. Most importantly, remembering how supported and loved she felt by her best friend and fellow air force pilot, Maria, before her life unravelled. She was human, flawed, she felt things too deeply, but this was who she was. Who she is.
Sometimes, the greatest affirmation we need is from ourselves.
In superhero movies, there is so much attention being obviously devoted to the physicality of the character but here the arc is as internal as it is external. Releasing on International Women’s Day when there was a global callout for more diversity at the workplace, Captain Marvel realises that if she can unleash so much power with one hand tied and being constantly controlled, she could do so much more if she truly came into her own. Even save lives, as she originally intended.
Sometimes, the greatest affirmation we need is from ourselves. So when Yon-Rogg asserts in one of the final pivotal moments, “You’ve come a long way, but you’re not as strong as you think”, Captain Marvel tells her mentor that she has nothing to prove to him. At this juncture, I heard women in the hall hooting loud and clear. This was Carol, a woman with a sharp sense of humour, you could feel her strength just from the steely resolve in her eyes, she was not without foibles but she would never give up without trying.
And before you asked her to smile, be warned of photon blasts that would come your way, hurling you off the ground and knocking you down unconscious.
Simply because a woman’s emotions is none of your business.
Picture Credit: movieweb
Also Read : India’s Feminist Men Who Deserve A Shout Out Too
The views expressed are the author’s own.