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Arts & Entertainment

“Just a Girl:” Marvel’s First Solo Superhero Movie

Finally, the moment superhero fans have been waiting for since “Iron Man” came out in 2008, and since “The Avengers” premiered in 2012; the Marvel cinematic universe finally gave us a solo superhero movie based around a female hero. “Captain Marvel” entered theaters March 8, and didn’t disappoint in providing an action-packed funny, and emotional masterpiece as Marvel tends to do.

For this reviewer, the movie had everything I hoped it would; suspense, great character dynamic, an adorable cat sidekick, and a fight scene to No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” to boot. While Marvel fans had to wait an absurd amount of time to finally see a female superhero star in her own movie–in fact, the world had to basically end first–Brie Larson as Captain Marvel makes it almost worth that 11-year wait. While there may be a compulsion to create a female hero possessing traditionally masculine traits (in fact, there’s a pull from the other characters to make Larson’s character conform to this) Carol Danvers thrives with the strengths her feminine qualities give her. She is emotional and compassionate, sharing heartfelt moments with other female characters, and even finds time to discuss fashion and style with her friend’s young daughter amid saving the worldAll of this takes nothing away from her being arguably one of the most powerful heroes in the universe as we’ve seen it so far.

Another great nontraditional quality about Larson as a superhero is how well she plays with others. While this isn’t true for every character in the Marvel Universe, there is a certain masculine and rugged lone-wolf stereotype one might think of when traditionally thinking of strong and “badass” characters. But one of the most charming aspects of this film is Larson’s relationships she builds with fellow female pilots, Nick Fury, and other aliens she interacts with. Larson’s Carol Danvers values every life around her, a key element in a hero that can sometimes get lost in our society’s pop culture that loves violence, dystopia and grey moral decisions in its entertainment.

Speaking of relationships, one of the best parts of this film? The absolute lack of a romantic plot line. While Carol Danvers has male friends and mentors, never in the film does she become a tool in a romantic plot that takes away from her arc as a woman and a hero overcoming adversity and deception. Nowhere in the story is anyone in a relationship, not even with the single mother raising her daughter. Perhaps films like this will continue to prove to Hollywood that people can, in fact, care about a female lead even when her story does not revolve around her being an object of desire.

All in all, Marvel continues to pump out some astonishingly round and compelling characters, and never do they shine more than when they are permitted the screentime of a solo movie. The studio’s ability to create humanity in these fictional characters–even when some aren’t human at all–makes room for major influence on the movie industry when they use this ability to shine a spotlight on underrepresented groups. They showed us this with “Black Panther” in 2018, and they reinforce it now. Assuming that the universe survives after the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame,” I can’t wait to see how they use this superpower next.