We walked out of the movie theater into the lobby and I saw the girl, her eyes sparkling behind the big red frames of her glasses. She was smiling at me like I knew what she was smiling about.
And I did. We had both just seen “Captain Marvel“, starring Brie Larson as the superhero Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers.
I’m not a big comic book fan, and I don’t know the difference between an Avenger and Superman. But Jon is a fan and when he told me that Captain Marvel was a woman, I wanted to see the film.
I didn’t love the movie, there was too much fighting for me (I know it’s a superhero movie and that’s what they do) and I didn’t think it had the depth and complexity of Black Panther or the innovative film making of the Spiderman Into the Spider-Verse.
But I liked a lot about it.
I liked how the women in the movie inspired and supported each other. And how when I left the theater, I had this feeling like I might be glowing (like Carol Danvers glowed) and that just maybe, when I looked down at my feet they’d be clad in Captain Marvel boots and I’d watch them lift off the ground as I flew out the door and up into the sky.
When I smiled back at the little girl in the lobby of the movie, I had the feeling she was thinking something similar.
Then I thought that maybe the movie seemed simple to me, but for a teenage girl, the story might be just right.
That kind of connection is something I’ve never felt from a Superhero movie. Not even after seeing the recent WonderWoman movie. ( I became a fan of Wonder Woman after reading The Secret History of Wonder Woman By Jill Lepore).
I don’t know what it was, but something about this film allowed me to relate to the character of Carol Danvers in a way that made me believe, for a moment, that maybe I was as powerful as she was.
As a girl and a women, I have never been able to relate to male characters in movies or books in this way.
I remember hearing Jane Goodall talk about how as a kid she would pretend she was a boy when she imagined herself going on adventures in the jungle, because she didn’t know of any girls who did that kind of thing.
I could never cross that barrier, even if it was just in my imagination. But Goodall didn’t let her being a girl stop her. She would become a boy or a man if that’s what it took to imagine herself where ever she wanted to be.
When I see a movie like Captain Marvel it makes me think of all the movies I grew up watching in the 1970’s where women were always the victims, always needing to be rescued. I came to see that as the reality of women’s lives. And as much as I might have denied it, it helped shape me into believing that the world was a dangerous place and I couldn’t protect myself. That I wasn’t safe without a man.
I love what I see happening in books and movies now. Where girls and women are their own heroes responsible for and saving themselves, and sometimes even all of humanity.
In the movie Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers asks her best friend Maria Rambeau to copilot her mission to save the Universe. At first she declines, she’s a single mother and doesn’t want to leave her young daughter, Monica.
But it’s Monica, already a hero in her own life, who encourages her mother to go, saying she would be setting a good example.
It’s about time we had characters like Captain Marvel, Maria Rambeau and Monica for girls and boys to see. It makes me wonder if my life would have been any different if they were in the movies I watched growing up.