The Importance of Captain Marvel


Polygon: Marvel Studios/Disney

Claudia Martillo, Writer

The arrival of the Marvel Universe favorite, Carol Danvers, also known as Captain Marvel, was first officially teased in the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War. A brief symbol of her iconic costume was seen to hint at her movie release on March 8, 2019.

The infamous superhero is being played by Academy Award-winning actress Brie Larson, who earned her Oscar for her portrayal of Ma in the movie Room. Larson uses her platform to advocate for social awareness. She does this by displaying her support for the #IBelieveSurvivors movement and encouraging female empowerment through film and inspiring others to build their self-confidence.

Captain Marvel will be the first female Marvel superhero with her own stand-alone film. Although there are several female characters in the MCU such as Black Widow, Hope Pym, Gamora, Mantis, Peggy Carter, Okoye, Shuri, and a host of others, these female characters are overshadowed by their male counterparts and are often seen as secondary/minor characters.

The MCU launched its franchise with the movie Iron Man in 2008 and since has only had male leads. This film, while showcasing female empowerment, also opens up the conversation about the lack of representation. It took Marvel Studios over a decade to realize that young girls may also need the same role models as young boys. The days of female characters only existing as a girlfriend or love interest should be wilting away. Only recently with the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp in July, Marvel began to bring attention to the power of Hope Pym, also known as the Wasp. Although she was not the main superhero of the movie, Hope had 35 minutes of screen time. That is the most time that any single female character in any MCU film has had, clearing the path for more female superheroes.

These movies hold an immense amount of power over the youth who idolize the characters. Seeing a character who looks like you helps you form a connection that will last a long time. Most characters in movies or TV shows lack a diverse cast. This negatively affects the youth who look at these characters and do not see someone whom they can relate to. This leads them to question if these characters are what they should strive to look like.  

For example, In Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana, was the first female MCU character to be played by a person of color. Saldana is Dominican and Puerto Rican, with Lebanese and Haitian roots. Although this is seen as a “win,” which it primarily is, Gamora is an alien with green skin, meaning Saldana is covered in paint and that her real ethnicity is not visible to the audience. However, in 2017 with the release of Thor: Ragnarok, came the character Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, who appeared in the movie for a total of 14 minutes. Thompson is of mixed ethnicity: her father, Marc Anthony Thompson, is of Panamanian descent while her mother is of a mixed Mexican and European ancestry. Saldana and Thompson are among the first women of color to portray characters in the MCU. It is disheartening to see that these characters only came to the big screen in 2014 and 2017.

The fact that it took the Marvel Cinematic Universe over ten years to come to the realization that female representation is essential is ludicrous. Having role models is an important part of childhood. It shapes you as a person and plays a factor in your identity. It’s time that society realizes that representation in all aspects is an effective tool in developing character. With the release of Captain Marvel, it should allow young girls to realize that they are able to accomplish great things and be a hero. As minuscule as the movie may appear to others, it can have an everlasting impact on the young girls watching.