I went to see Captain Marvel last night, and of course absolutely loved it (I’m a huge Marvel film fan). However, the part that really got to me was the plot twist about the Kree-Skrull war (obviously, spoilers from here on in).
From the beginning of the film, we are taught, just like Carol Danvers/Vers, that the Kree are the good guys and the Skrulls are the bad guys. The Kree have been attempting for years to win in their fight against the Skrulls. The Skrulls are made out to be terrorists who kill not only Kree, but innocent bystanders as well.
However, later on, we learn that this story has been Kree propaganda all along. The Kree are desperate to kill off the Skrulls because they refuse to bow down and be subjugated to them. The Skrulls are just trying to live their lives as free people. While Carol/Vers was sent on a mission, believing that the Skrulls were trying to gain a weapon in order to be able to defeat and murder “her” people (the Kree), the Skrulls were trying to find a way to find a new home where the Kree couldn’t come after them.
Also, it seemed rather interesting to me that the Skrulls are the ones who are portrayed as looking “disgusting” and Other… hmmmmm….
This reminded me right away of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, wherein the Palestinian people, who have been trying to live peacefully on their own land, have been maltreated and murdered by the Israeli people once, in 1948, Britain “gave them” a land that was no longer theirs to have. Once the land was “transferred” to Israel (a land that was not Britain’s to give), the Jewish people immediately began to kick Palestinians off their land. This is a conflict that continues today. The Palestinian people are painted as terrorists, people taking away Israel’s land, people fighting the “innocent” Israelis, and other such nefarious titles by the media, especially by the Conservative/pro-Israel media. Just like the Israeli people, the Kree have more power in their hands, and therefore, they are able to spin a story in their own favour. It is always those in power who are able to paint themselves as the victims, while the real victims are the ones who are slandered so that those in power are able to continue their subjugation of them.
This is when Carol Danvers is brought in to the picture – dare I say, a stand-in for the nation of America.
The Kree/Israelis, even with their power advantage, are still unable to win their war because the Skrulls/Palestinians refuse to lie down and just die, those stubborn bastards. That is when they get a new idea – why not bring in a superhero / a superpower that will tip the scale in their balance? Of course, for this idea to work, the superhero / superpower must be manipulated and well-steeped in propaganda. In Captain Marvel, this superhero is Carol Danvers, a regular human (a different race from either the Skrulls or the Kree). She is taken from earth after she receives her powers and brainwashed in Kree ideology before she is released as a warrior. In the real world, this superpower is the United States (also “unbiased” by being neither a Palestinian nor an Israeli country). Just like Carol, the United States has also been brainwashed.
Using my analogy, Captain Marvel can be seen as a cry for help for the oppressed and maligned people of the world, specifically of Palestinian people (although that does not have to be the only people to work for this metaphor). Could this movie then be a call to the mighty superpower, America, to listen to the plight of the subjugated? To use another movie analogy, America (Théoden) needs to stop listening to the whispers of Wormtongue/Saruman, and listen to the common sense of Gandalf instead.
To return to Captain Marvel, it is only through two races of people working together that the superhero is able to see common sense and end the shameful war: some good people of the superhero/Carol’s own race (e.g. Nick Fury, Maria Rambeau, and her daughter Monica) and the oppressed (the Skrulls) who are there to tell their stories. However, it is also only through the superhero’s willingness to actually listen, without bias, to a secondary narrative, outside of the dominant worldview of the powerful, that the one who can change the tide is able to find out the truth.
Therefore, to end the shameful stories of our own world, there are two kinds of people who need to work together – those who are oppressed, and those with good hearts who want to make change in the world and also who are willing to listen to the stories of the subjugated.
I believe another important point of the movie is that even though Carol Danvers, as Vers, is a warrior, her humanity is emphasized time and time again. She gets in trouble for helping other people and her superiors keep telling her to stop letting her emotions lead her (or in other words, her kindness and her drive to help the less fortunate). As viewers, I believe we are called to be like Carol. We, too, are also called to get up every time we fall down and keep fighting for justice in our world.
Call it what you like, a feminist movie, a movie with a way-too-powerful superhero (although I would argue that’s what makes Carol Danvers so awesome though)… but despite its flaws, I think Captain Marvel carries a powerful message for the superpower countries of our day, and you and I. Literature and movies have always been a carrier of political and social messages to inspire others to change, and I believe this movie is no different. The question is – will you answer the call?