This is supposed to be a review over Captain Marvel (because, you know, I do dabble in writing film reviews that don’t talk about any cinematography or get super critical in the review, but instead, like with my book reviews, just talk about the experience of watching the film and how it made me feel).
It’s more like a love letter.
Confession time: before I saw the movie, I wasn’t super stoked for it.
Don’t get me wrong: I was stoked for another female superhero movie. Yes, yes, a million times yes. But at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, where we learn that Fury is calling upon Captain Marvel to come and help, I was bummed, because I didn’t want them to just introduce another superhero into the mix who comes and fixes it all in Endgame while I’ve been with some of these other characters for multiple films and instead, I wanted to see how they were going to deal with this impossible threat.**
But I was still curious about the film and of course I was going to go see it. We went and saw it opening night, in fact. And…it was incredible.
After watching it, the first thing I turned and said to my boyfriend was, “Wow. I wish I had something like that to watch when I was kid.”
See, here is the thing. I could talk for paragraphs about how much I enjoyed this film. How I loved Fury’s and Carol’s friendship and the humor they shared together. The way the film incorporated flashbacks and showed the fragmented memories of Carol’s past that simultaneously left you guessing, but also made you believe you got the full picture. The chills I got at the foreshadowing of Infinity War (and the definite chills I got during the post credit scene).
The way I’ll never trust my cats again.
But no, what really stood out to me was the way I just…I just yearned for that kind of role model growing up. Real and genuine. Non-perfect, but always trying to do better than before. The way she didn’t hide her emotions or frustrations, admitted to her mistakes and always kept going forward. The way that she continued to get up time after time because she was never going to let anyone–especially men–tell her what she could and could not do, who she could or could not be.
Yeah, younger Nicole wishes she could have seen that growing up.
Before we went to the film, I asked my boyfriend what the whole controversy over this film was. I’d heard inklings and whispers about it on social media, but never looked into it enough to truly “understand” why there were some negative responses before the film even came out, because I could kinda hazard a guess at where it was coming up. My boyfriend confirmed my guess after the film, when he said, “I don’t agree with them, but I know why the men who aren’t feminists didn’t like this movie.” I asked him what he meant and he pinpointed a scene, a montage of Carol after she was pushed down, verbally or physically, time after time as she grew up. It was a scene that didn’t stick out to me at all as a feminist agenda or something that would make small-minded men upset.
For me, that was just reality.
Though I’ve never been in the military or lived on a different planet, the memories of being picked on or bullied thanks to being a woman flashed through my mind on the ride home in fragments like they did for Captain Marvel as she tried to remember her life. How my coach spit sunflower seeds on my shoes to help me “run faster,” since I insisted I got to run with the boys after decided to not do a field event when running track. For getting made fun at school because I was–and acted like–a tomboy. How I got picked last during gym class because no one thought I could actually play dodgeball. How any time I show emotion, I’m immediately asked if it’s “that time of the month” and jokes are made to stay away from me, yet if I say the word period or talk about my heavy blood flow, I immediately am reported to HR as unprofessional. How I get hit on when I don’t ask for it and when I ask them to stop, suddenly I’m a bitch.
It’s goes on and on and on.
So that scene, watching Danvers get pushed around and mocked and talked down upon time after time again? That didn’t strike me as feminist (though you could argue her response was), but reminded me of the wrongs our culture and that general mindset still cultivates. But seeing her push through and continue forward, no matter what, inspired me. I haven’t always responded in that way, often times shrinking down when I should be sticking up for myself. Because growing up, I don’t think I ever understood that I could stick up for myself. That a woman could actually do that. Sure, I might have been told that by my parents or encouraged by my friends, but to see it on screen? Have not just an idea, but an image, a person, to latch onto and think of, whenever I need to?
That’s entirely different.
I haven’t felt this way since watching Wonder Woman, which was a groundbreaking film for me, emotionally. It was the first time I’d ever felt this way.
I can’t wait to feel this again–because I have faith we as a society and the film industry a a whole are not done yet, showing strong, complex and inspiring women on screen. I’m excited for my future daughters to have the chance to always grow up with being able to see themselves in media like this, portrayed more than a sex symbol or an accessory, but instead, a powerhouse of their own making.
** I should make it clear that I don’t read comics (unless it’s called Saga and it’s in the business of ripping my heart out; only on Volume 3, though, no spoilers), so to me, all these super heroes and their stories are new and completely tied to the cinematic universe, as far as my knowledge goes.