“There is nothing more dangerous for a warrior than emotion.” (Yon-Rogg)
A new superhero comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Captain Marvel brings us the MCU’s first woman superhero, a soldier in the midst of an intergalactic war who ends up on earth and becomes ground zero for that war. Ah, but all may not be as it seems at first.
We first meet Vers (rhymes with fears, played by Brie Larson) in her dream. She seems to be haunted by some dreams that come from her past, which she doesn’t remember. All she knows is that the last six years she has been training as a warrior for the Kree. She trains with her commander and mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) who keeps pushing her to not use her ability to throw proton beams, except when needed.
She is being sent on her first mission to rescue another soldier from the enemy Skrull. But before she goes, she has to meet with the Kree’s Supreme Intelligence (Annette Benning). Vers ends up captured, tortured as the Skrull leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) seems to mine her mind for information from her past (which triggers bits of memory in her), escapes from their ship and crash lands in a Blockbuster store on earth in 1995.
Once she communicates with Yon-Rogg, who starts a rescue mission, she is discovered by young S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Eventually Vers realizes that she must team up with Fury to trace back the mystery of her past. She discovers she was an Air Force pilot named Carol Danvers who was part of a secret project and was killed in a crash. She traces down her friend Maria (Lashana Lynch) who was also a pilot. But Talos is also trying to find Vers again. At this point the twists start coming into play. Oh, and there’s a cat (sort of).
The journey from Vers to Captain Marvel requires her to rediscover who she is and what she is. It also requires that she come to terms with the very emotions that Yon-Rogg has been trying to have her bury. It is only after she finds her human side that she is able to make the transition from soldier to superhero. It is not so much a matter of power as it is of confidence, attitude, and compassion.
A part of that transformation is not just discovering her humanity, but embracing it. That means accepting the emotions that come so naturally to her—including fear, compassion, and even love. These are things that Yon-Rogg tried to suppress in her, but they become a kind of liberation as Vers becomes more than she knew she could be—and discovers that she has already been more that she knew.
The phrase “only human” comes up at one point, but for Captain Marvel the idea of being human is not about being “only” human. Her humanity opens up for her a new range of possibilities. It is only in being human that she becomes superhuman. This is emphasized visually near the end when Captain Marvel hangs in space in a pose very similar to paintings of the Ascension.
Within the Judeo-Christian creation story, humankind is created in the image of God. It just seems wrong to think “just human” when we have that understanding. Instead we should consider that fully understanding our humanity allows us to see the divine within ourselves—the superhuman.
Note: There are two scenes embedded in the credits. The first, midway through the credits, sets the stage for Avengers: Endgame. The second, at the very end, is a humorous scene, which may or may not have something to do with Endgame. There is also a montage of Stan Lee at the very beginning of the film, which got a bit of applause at the screening I attended.
Photos courtesy Marvel Studios