Is ‘Captain Marvel’ Actually The Feminist Film It’s Billed As?

If a feminist film is a film that is engaged with feminism and inspired by feminist discussions about women’s empowerment, then Captain Marvel is pretty clearly a feminist film.

The story is about how Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), an alien Kree supremacist, brainwashes Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) and suppresses her cosmic energy abilities.

She has to reconnect with her close friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), whose sisterhood and support allows her to recuperate her true self and full power.

At the climax of the film, she casually blasts Yon-Rogg into a mountain and tells him, “I have nothing to prove to you.”

Carol is in thrall to patriarchal false consciousness which prevents her from fulfilling her full potential until the female community sets her free to analyze oppressive power structures and knock them down.

That’s a straightforward, explicit feminist storyline.

If a feminist film means not “a film that is intentionally feminist” but “a film that is successfully feminist”—then things get a little more complicated.

There are, though, aspects of Captain Marvel that arguably undermine its message of empowerment for at least some feminists.  The most obvious perhaps is its militarism.

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