One year later, iconic ‘Captain Marvel’ remains groundbreaking

As part of our Chats Series, FF2 writer Nicole Ackman and her 16-year-old little sister Hannah Ackman discuss their favorite female superhero film, Captain Marvel. Be sure to click on the film titles for full reviews.

Nicole

With the Black Widow movie coming out hopefully later this year, I wanted to talk to you about your favorite Marvel female superhero, Captain Marvel. Why is Captain Marvel your favorite female superhero?

Hannah

I really like Captain Marvel better than any other Marvel women because she’s powerful, but she’s not sexualized. She’s not proving her abilities to anyone else and I also really love her costume. I’ve dressed up as Captain Marvel many times and I like it because her arms and legs are covered. It’s a practical fighting suit and she’s wearing boots. It’s not very typically feminine and I’ve never really thought it made sense whenever you can see a warrior type character’s entire chest or her entire legs.

Nicole

It’s nice to see a female superhero in a costume that’s not sexualized, that’s not hot, that’s just actually practical. I also loved that even her human clothing, her ‘90’s grunge outfit, isn’t overly sexualized. It really shows that this movie was made by women. 

Captain Marvel was written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and they wrote the script along with Geneva Robertson Dworet. I think there’s other examples in this film where you can tell that there were women on the creative team.

Brie Larson and Anna Boden in Captain Marvel (2019)

Hannah

The most iconic scene from the whole movie is when the guy on the motorcycle tells her to smile and he’s basically catcalling her and her response is to steal his motorcycle. It’s so iconic and I feel like so many women get told by men, like: “Oh, you should smile more. Oh, why don’t you smile?”

Nicole

I’ve definitely gotten that from men before and I wish that I could’ve stolen their motorcycles! I think there’s a little bit of wish fulfillment for women watching it. It’s like, that is what you want to do, you want to get back at them somehow and I think so it’s realistic and it’s something that I don’t know that like a man on his own would’ve known to put into the movie.

Hannah

I think that a lot of men don’t even see that as offensive. They seem to think that they’re complimenting you, but it doesn’t feel like that and it really isn’t.

Nicole

There’s also the way that the men in the Air Force in her flashbacks as Carol Danvers are telling her things like: “There’s a reason it’s called the cockpit” and looking down on her for being a woman. That’s realistic and that’s the kind of thing that women experience every day.

I also appreciate that this is a film that is very feminist, but none of it feels forced or overdone. It doesn’t seem like they set out like: now, let’s make a feminist movie. I feel like it sometimes can come across that way, especially when it’s made by men. 

Hannah

And she’s not having to reject anything about herself that makes her feminine. It’s not the type of thing where if you wear the color pink, then you’re girly and that makes you weak.

Nicole

She’s not like the “Strong Female Character” that’s basically just a female character that has traditionally male traits. I love that she’s complex and, of course, she’s really smart and she has powers and she’s strong, but she’s also really emotional and loyal and curious and snarky and has a great sense of humor. She just has this wide array of personality traits like an actual person has and she’s not just one thing. They don’t try and put her into a box.

Hannah

You get to see her in moments where she’s vulnerable, so you don’t just see her constantly strong.

Nicole

I love that a lot of the movie is about how she’s been told by Jude Law’s character, Yon-Rogg, that she needs to suppress her emotions to be able to access her powers and that the reason that she’s not succeeding is because she’s too emotional. Then she realizes that she’s actually better when she is emotional and that she has to tap into her emotions to be able to use her powers. That’s a way that they’ve been holding her back.

That’s really powerful because you always hear things like: Oh, well a woman couldn’t be president because women are too emotional or women are too emotional for the boardroom. To get to see this woman embracing her emotional side and that being part of her power is so important. I really wish that this film had been around when I was younger and I could’ve seen it as like a young girl because I feel like it would’ve helped combat some of those sexist things that you hear growing up as a woman.

Brie Larson and Lashana Lynch in Captain Marvel (2019)

Hannah

I think the most important friendship in the movie is with her best friend Maria and I think that you get to see Carol being very nurturing towards Maria’s daughter, Monica. She has that side of herself, but she can also go and shoot an alien. She doesn’t have to subscribe to those ideas that like: Oh, you can’t like children and still be strong.

Nicole

I think that Maria is such a great character. She’s also an Air Force pilot and in addition to being a woman, she’s a black woman, so she’s probably faced even more discrimination than Carol has. But she’s also this great single mother and I think that that’s not always something that we get to see in movies: successful, positive single mothers.

Hannah

You actually kind of see Maria using the idea of Carol to help raise her daughter and Monica definitely gets their ideals.

Nicole

I love that scene where Carol and Yon-Rogg are fighting on the ship and when they start to fight, Maria actually steps forward like she’s going to step into the fight and help Carol and Nick Fury has to pull her back. Like you’re human; they’re aliens with superpowers. But I love that Maria loves Carol so much and she is so selfless that she would put herself in the middle of that fight even though she doesn’t have the powers that the two of them have. I think that that says so much about their relationship that she’s really willing to put herself on the line for Carol.

That kind of attitude is something that she shares with Carol. I love that montage of Carol standing up again after she’s kind of been beaten and broken down throughout her childhood and then as an adult. It always makes me cry when I watch it. 

Hannah

That scene is really relatable as well because it doesn’t have to do with her fighting aliens. Just seeing her knocked over on the beach or having crashed her little go-cart, that’s relatable to a lot of women. They were told that they couldn’t, but they still went and they tried again.

Nicole

One of the lessons that you can take from this movie is the importance of continuing to try even when things are hard, even when things are rough, even when it looks like you’ve lost, just pushing past it. There are so many times where Carol seems like she’s gotten herself into this bind that she can’t get out of, sometimes literally she’s bound, and she always manages to find a way out because she never gives up.

I feel like we also can’t talk about this movie without talking about how fantastic Carol and Nick Fury are as a duo.

Hannah

A lot of the time in movies, if there’s a girl and a guy who are best friends, they’re secretly in love with each other and Nick Fury and Carol Danvers are definitely not.

Nicole

And they’re fantastic. What are you hoping to see in the sequel because supposedly we’re getting a Captain Marvel 2?

Hannah

I would love to see more of Maria because she’s amazing and she’s really important in Carol’s life. I would love to see Carol and Nick Fury together more just because I think they’re so funny and I have a lot of guy best friends and I don’t really see that portrayed a whole lot.

Nicole

I would love to see them further develop both of those relationships and I’d love to see anything that Brie Larson wants to bring to the character of Carol.

Hannah

I would love more montages that just make you feel amazing. If you haven’t seen Captain Marvel, go watch it. Higher, further, faster.

© Nicole Ackman (4/23/20) FF2 Media

Photo credits: Marvel Studios

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Nicole Ackman
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Nicole Ackman is an FF2 Media Associate based in North Carolina, after living in London and New York. She graduated from Elon University with a Bachelors degree in History and Strategic Communication and from City University of London with a Masters degree in Culture, Policy, and Management. She is a theatre and film critic and is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. Her taste in film tends towards period dramas, movie musicals, and anything starring Saoirse Ronan. In addition to film, she is passionate about history, theatre, Disney parks, and classic novels by female writers.
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