Captain Marvel and the Rising Tide of Girl Power in Movies

“Leave the saving of the world to the men? I don’t think so.” –Elastigirl, The Incredibles

My daughter is not a big Princess fan. She never has been. I honestly don’t think that she likes the whole damsel in distress routine that is often associated (fairly or unfairly) with the genre. She’s much more interested in the warrior type – strong, independent female characters who aren’t afraid to fight for themselves. Unfortunately, female superheroes aren’t exactly mainstream in the comic books and movies she’s into.

This is why I was so excited to hear the big announcement from Marvel Studios about Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

For the first time in Marvel history, a female superhero will take the lead in a movie, Captain Marvel, hitting theaters Summer 2018.

But who is this Captain Marvel?

Captain Marvel wasn’t always a woman. Who knew? I had to do a little digging into the comic book archives, and what I found was a long, ever-changing story, not unlike the backstories of other superheroes. The original fictional character, Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) was created by Stan Lee and designed by artist Gene Colan in 1967. They had also created another character, Ms. Marvel aka Carol Danvers, who in 2012 ended up taking on the identity of Captain Marvel after he died. Sounds confusing, but the changing of names and identities is not that uncommon for comic book characters.

At their recent announcement, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige shared some of their thought process behind the Captain Marvel decision:

“This Captain Marvel’s name is Carol Danvers … This film has been in the works almost as long as Doctor Strange, or Guardians of the Galaxy before it came out, and one of the key things was figuring out what we wanted to do with it. Her adventures are very earthbound, but her powers are based in the cosmic realm.”

No matter which direction they decide to take story, I am already a fan. I am giving Marvel Studios a virtual high-five for going for it. Sure, putting a woman in a leading role as a superhero may be risky, but I’m just happy that someone is stepping up to take the risk. This movie makes a statement, and to me the statement is that women are worth it. Girls are worth it.

I hope Captain Marvel encourages girls (of all ages) to embrace their own super powers, cosmic or otherwise. It’s crucial that our daughters know it’s okay to be strong. It’s okay to be fierce. Not only is it okay, it is awesome and totally necessary in this life!

Let’s help them understand that they have a special place, not only following behind their male counterparts, but standing right beside them. Working. Playing. Fighting. And in some instances standing in front, leading the way. Swords drawn. Charging full steam ahead.

There is room for many types of girls on this planet and they don’t have to be all dolled up in tiaras and heels. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Let’s normalize superhero girls. Crime-fighting girls. Kick-ass girls. Girls who build forts, climb trees and aren’t afraid to get dirty. Girls who slay dragons, wear capes, and believe they can fly. With all of their might, in all the greatness that they possess, let’s train them to stand up and fight against evil and injustice. Teach them to use their superpowers to change the world.

There have been a number of awesome women superheroes paving the way. From Catwoman to Elektra, Storm to Black Widow. I think even Elsa from Frozen is the perfect example of a heroic leading lady (in this case animated) who had to get in touch with the Snow Queen within in order to rule her kingdom. Frozen was named the top grossing animated film of all time. This is what happens when you put strong leading ladies in a movie together. Boom!

Captain Marvel is an occasion not just for comic book nerds to rejoice, but mothers (and fathers) of daughters everywhere! I hope when this movie comes out, it dominates at the box office and women (and men) flock to theaters to see a super heroine on the silver screen.

Here’s to Captain Marvel and the Super Girl in all of us.

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