Part Seven: Captain Marvel (2019)
Carol Danvers was due to have a film as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016 after Captain America: Civil War but it was during the filming of that particular film that Marvel made an announcement alongside Fox. They had made a deal with Fox to allow Marvel access to Spider-Man and the related characters. As a result of that they rescheduled the film to allow Spider-Man: Homecoming to take Captain Marvel’s scheduled place.
While Captain Marvel was being shot they made some encouraging and not so encouraging announcements. Firstly Marvel revealed they had been in contact with Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez among others for input into the film. Although they hadn’t been involved in writing the film Marvel were on record as wanting to capture the spirit of that run of stories. I was skeptical but willing to try and keep an open mind. The not so encouraging side of things came from two fronts. Lead actress Brie Larson made a variety of statements over the course of the press cycle which managed to infuriate a large variety of people. She still hasn’t quite recovered from this as she is – according to fan hearsay – not exactly endearing herself to higher ups at Marvel. On top of that the marketing was not exactly ideal being in my opinion and in the opinion of several others I know being far too centred on Carol’s being a woman and not what makes her special as a character.
But now I get to why I made this article in the first place. Initially I was planning to just have this article be purely about the fall. Then the film arrived locally and I went to see what I expected to be a disaster. And within 15 minutes I was caught up in it all over again. Sure they had made a few changes in honestly understandable places and included a few things to tie her in more efficiently to the ongoing MCU story but the best thing? This was Carol! The real version I know and the one that despite being occasionally forthright with certain things wasn’t exclusionary. They’d actually remembered she was supposed to be funny! Fun in general! By the end I was laughing and grinning like an idiot and that felt so good after Civil War II. After two years of bitterness Captain Marvel was finally back. At least in the films…
Part Eight: Carol’s New Backstory, Current Run And The Epilogue
There can be quite a disconnect between the popular Marvel films and the version of those characters in the comics. At one stage while Robert Downey Junior was doing what I can only describe as a ‘modernised classic’ Tony Stark in the various Avengers films, Tony in the comics had received a semi-villainous makeover. This led to the creation of the Superior Iron Man series where Tony used his intelligence and wealth to hack everyone’s phones and forcibly download an app which allowed people access to something called Extremis technology which changed people’s physical and mental forms – looks, muscle tone, mental state. The catch? You had to pay a sizeable amount per day to keep the ‘best you possible.’In other words it was as addictive if not more so than cocaine or heroin.
So guess what happened to Carol at the release of her film? A full on retcon and new backstory. Yes it totally makes sense to give her a new – infuriating – backstory at the same time as using large elements of the old one to create the version of the character in the films everyone has been watching!
The new backstory goes all the way back to the Psyche-Magnetron. It turns out that instead of Carol being human and the Kree DNA coming from being caught in the cross-fire of the explosion, Carol’s mother was apparently always a Kree. This means that rather than her being special because of a mix of her personality and no one else having the powers she has, she was always half Kree and the explosion just activated her powers.
The fan base has NOT taken well to this change for a variety of reasons and in my opinion rightfully so. But there is one more problem. In her most recent series the writers have gone very ‘straw progressive’ or ‘straw feminist.’ How so? By bringing back a very outdated Fantastic Four villain from the 1970s called Mahkizmo – or Nuclear Man – and having him literally use the phrase ‘A woman’s place is in the kitchen or the bedroom’ or a close approximation of it. On top of that his plans literally involve blocking off access to an alternative dimension to all men and all women below a certain power level with the express intention of making one of the captured women including Carol his wife and producing an heir to continue on his outdated views and traditions.
I take it my readers can see the problem? On top of the writing coming across as being solely targeted at a certain subset of the female readership, It frankly feels condescending and patronising to read! I actively felt offended and wanted a refund after I first read it. If you want Carol to be inspirational to women? That’s fine. Understandable even. But do it by making her someone people would want to look up to! Stand alongside! Don’t tell us how amazing she is while having her beat the tar out of a relic of a villain who’s been outdated for decades!
This is the same woman who worked her way up to being a commander in the US Air Force before she ever had powers. Who has been kicking ass since the 1970s! Who terrified the commander of the Kree Invasion armada single handed into retreating from an active military zone full of refugees and giving back the stolen military resources with a simple “Touch these people again? And I WILL come for you.” Who inspired current Ms Marvel and popular hero in her own right Kamala Khan! Who leads the entire planetary defence force for the entire Earth! You don’t need to make her cool or inspiring by pandering to certain groups or relying on ‘look at this amazing woman.’ This is Carol Danvers Captain Marvel! There’s even more to her than I mentioned here. Far more!
As you might be able to guess the fan base hasn’t taken well to this new series and I truly hope they learn from their mistakes. If they want to do more popular Captain Marvel stories, they should use the film version as a guide. People know that version. I do hope the films lead her to rise from her current period of patronising mediocrity and allow her to be at her best in both the films and comics.If the character sounds interesting the two eras I’d recommend are the various Kelly Sue DeConnick runs from 2012 to 2015 and the Ms Marvel Volume Two run from 2006 to 2010.
I hope my long essay here might persuade some of you to check out the character. There’s a reason I have a fancy Art Deco style poster in my house. She’s had more than a few bumps in the road but no matter what? At her best she can knock monsters into the sun! The next time you see me I will be returning to my usual topic of choice. Namely stories of a certain H.G Wells.