Captain Marvel’s Role in the Culture of Female Superheroes – The UPenn Statesman

When we think of comics, superheroes like Superman, Batman, Iron Man, and the Hulk immediately spring to mind. However, most people fail to afford adequate recognition to the spectacular female characters who kick ass fighting crime, improving humanity, restoring balance to the world and showing that women can be heroes as well.

Over the last 20 years, there have been a remarkable set of movies showcasing unforgettable female lead roles. However, these characters were not female heroes, they were just heroes. Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass, Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Aquaman. Although each film is vastly different, they all have females that save the day! And yet, each one proves that men and women can work together to bring unique skills to the fight. 

Enter Captain Marvel. On the surface, it appears to be just like the other movies described, but if you pull back the curtain you easily see that this movie is not like those. All movies have a narrative, and the narrative for this movie appears to portray men and women not as partners, but as women running everything. Again, this does not sound bad if you do not think about culture, and how movies influence culture. However, if you think about it, these movies uplift women at the expense of men. Scenes within the movie have certain situations that make you question whether it is a movie or a political film. Throughout the movie, the main character’s fight scenes and dialogues with men showcase a pattern that demonstrates men are evil and goofballs. Therefore, I cannot really say if this movie is a female superhero film or female activist film.

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All this is in contrast to a similar movie from two years ago: Wonder Woman. In this film the main character is both ferocious and gentle. She is a warrior and leads her teams into battle by lifting them up. She goes on a hero’s journey and discovers who she is and what she stands for. This film showcases that a woman does not have to bring men down to be seen as their equal or superior. Instead, a woman can be free to make her own choices without destroying or belittling other people in the film. 
Andrew Breitbart says “politics is downstream from culture”. I interpret this to mean every film, book, lecture or podcast you experience shapes your belief. Every movie has a narrative if you are paying attention.

However, in superhero films that narrative can be overlooked for all of the action. Challenge yourself to no longer think what is a male or female superhero, but rather what is a hero. Furthermore, what does a hero do that makes memorable throughout a film and throughout history?


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