How Captain Marvel Atones For Avengers #200
There are basic similarities between the Kree's actions in Captain Marvel and Marcus' in Avengers #200. It's true that the Kree and Marcus have very different motives - Marcus basically seems to have wanted to have sex, while the Kree want a weapon for their Skrull war. But both stories are essentially tales where powerful beings exercise that power in order to force a woman to do their will. Both Marcus and the Kree are only interested in Carol Danvers because of her own abilities; Marcus chose her because he believed her unique physiology was a strong one, while the Kree wouldn't be interested in Captain Marvel if she had no superpowers. And both claim a powerful woman as their possession; Marcus calls Carol "mine," while the Kree brainwash her and work to ensure she knows her place. These are two different tales of abuse.
The comics themselves have often tried to forget that Carol Danvers was a victim of abuse, and that's led to some surprising omissions. When Captain Marvel's best friend Spider-Woman got pregnant, for example, Carol never mentioned that she understood what some of that felt like; it's as though the entire pregnancy has been air-brushed out of comic book history. But Marvel Studios is choosing to accept, and even embrace, the idea that their version of Captain Marvel is an abuse victim. That's quite a bold decision, as it will inevitably involve Marvel exploring just what it means to realize someone has been abusing you by exercising power over you; Captain Marvel will have to deal with the emotional trauma of all that she's suffered. This may well explain why Brie Larson - a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement - was interested in the role. There's a strange sense in which this atones for Avengers #200, with Marvel Studios consciously exploring themes that the comics - back in the 1980s - just couldn't quite handle.
How This Makes Captain Marvel Better In The MCU
Captain Marvel is the first female-led superhero movie in the MCU, which makes it pretty ground-breaking, but the abuse plot gives it a far more significant degree of cultural relevance. Marvel appear to have learned an important lesson with the success of Black Panther; they know there's a demand for superhero stories that are more than just standard action flicks, but that instead confront the social and cultural issues of the day. Although Captain Marvel is set in 1995, it looks set to explore themes of powerful women being diminished, of men in positions of power abusing their authority; it essentially tackles the issues raised by the #MeToo movement. That makes this a very exciting film indeed.
But Captain Marvel is more important than that. The film is releasing at a time of transition for the MCU, with Avengers: Endgame expected to be the swan song for several of the original Avengers. Stars like Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth are thought to be leaving Marvel, meaning the torch will be passed on to a new generation of heroes. And, according to Kevin Feige, Brie Larson's Captain Marvel will be taking the lead in the MCU going forward. That means, when the dust settles from Avengers: Endgame, an abuse survivor will be at the heart of Marvel's shared cinematic universe. It's a remarkable decision from Marvel, and it indicates that the studio intend their films to retain that edge of cultural relevance from this point on.
It also means Captain Marvel will be a fascinating, three-dimensional character. She has strength, but she knows what it's like to be vulnerable. She has power, but she's been at the mercy of powerful beings who would take advantage of her. And though she has been abused, she's sure to refuse to let that experience define her, and will blaze her own trail - whether Yon-Rogg and the Supreme Intelligence like it or not.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019