My 10-year-old daughter recently returned from her first overseas church trip. She spent the week in a new culture, trying new foods, and serving the children of friends. Before she left, I gave her a bracelet that reads “Be Brave.” We talked the week before about brave women in the Bible, such as Miriam, Deborah and Priscilla. We read their stories and learned about how God put them in positions to serve others, gifting them with the courage, strength and wisdom for the task at hand.
Since she returned last week, our family schedule has prevented me from getting to spend extended time with her and hear about her trip. I decided a daddy-daughter outing was in order.
So, on Monday afternoon, we set out to see Captain Marvel, the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), notable for being Marvel Studios’ first superhero film with a female lead.
Naturally, I wondered what message the film would send my daughter about what it means to be a woman. Would Captain Marvel be Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, only with a cape and superpowers? Would Carol Danvers be a snarling feminist, out to erase and flatten all distinctions between men and women? Or would my daughter see a woman who stewards her gifts, strength and opportunities to help others, to do good and to inspire those around her?
In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I am no expert in the MCU or superhero movies by any stretch of the imagination. I entered this film almost entirely ignorant of the Captain Marvel character and her backstory. So, what did I find?
WARNING: The following portions of this article may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.
The Carol Danvers Story
Captain Marvel tells the story of Carol Danvers, whom we meet as Vers, a member of the Starforce. As the narrative unfolds, we discover that though born a normal human according to the flesh, she experienced a dramatic conversion (she is called “born again”)—a transformation that blessed her with superpowers.
As Danvers begins to understand her conversion, she comes to grips with her new nature and her new identity. Understanding who and what she now is, she experiences increasing freedom from the powers that once ruled her, among which she once lived, carrying out their desires.
As the film progresses, Danvers learns to put the needs of others ahead of her own. She discovers and befriends a refugee people, exiled from their homeland facing the threat of genocide and extinction at the hands of evildoers. Our hero understands that she alone is uniquely positioned to save this people. Recognizing that she is here for such a time as this, she walks into the face of death, willing to lay down her life for the good of others.
Her strength inspires and encourages others to faithfulness and courage. Through her partnership, Fury is encouraged to take initiative leadership, protection and provision for the earth, preparing a team to subdue and exercise dominion over whatever supervillains may threaten the earth.
Carol Danvers is not depicted as the ultimate savior of the world. Instead, she inspires Fury to find others like her. Noting her call sign, “Avenger,” the Avenger Project is born, making Danvers the symbolic mother of the Avengers. The seed of the woman will crush the head of the enemy.
The Carol Danvers Statement
What can we say about this film, especially as it pertains to biblical manhood and womanhood?
First, this is not (successful) feminist propaganda. If the authors intended it as feminist propaganda, they failed. I didn’t get that message at all.