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Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character Empty Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character

on September 27th 2019, 6:13 am
Message reputation : 100% (2 votes)
Before I delve into this I'd like to say that this analysis will be COMPLETELY removed from the lens of politics, which is how I've generally approached her as a character when watching her film (which honestly wasn't too overbearing in terms of feminist politics, the only times it really came up were with the heavy handed flashbacks, and that really cringey scene with the biker dude asking her to smile). But yeah, zero politics here, just pure character analysis.

Part 1: The Hardest Choices Require the Strongest of Wills
One of the most important aspects to heroes is the demonstration of their willingness towards self-sacrifice, it is something that earn's the audience's respect for their moral character, and their integrity and commitment towards heroism. This doesn't necessarily have to be a willingness to sacrifice their own life, but it does have to constitute at least the willingness to sacrifice something or someone they care about. It earns our respect largely because of the truth behind.

When looking at the main trinity of MCU heroes, we see this emphasized. At the end of his first movie, Iron Man was willing to sacrifice his own life to stop Obadiah Stane and asked Pepper to turn on the giant arc reactor skybeam thing, expecting it to kill both himself and Obadiah. Then again perhaps more dramatically in the Avengers he proves, contrary to Captain America's assertion, that he is the kind of guy willing to lie down on the wire and let the other guy crawl over him, when he takes the Nuke through the wormhole to stop the Chitauri, believing it to be a one way trip. Then of course, most dramatically, was the actual sacrifice of his life in Endgame, arguably when he had the most to lose and the most to live for. At the character climax of his first movie, a powerless Thor was willing to offer up his own life to Loki in exchange for the safety of his friends and the town. This was in fact the very thing that made him worthy of Mjolnir. Then in Ragnarok he sacrificed his home to save his people. And of course we also see that with Captain America numerous times. In his first movie he was willing to throw himself on the grenade (a dummy grenade but he didn't know that) and crash the plane ino the arctic. In his second movie he told his allies to fire upon the ship he was currently on. In Civil War he sacrificed his standing with half of the Avengers and risked the loss of his own freedom in order to save Bucky.

It's not just those three though, this is a rule that holds true for almost all MCU heroes, either male or female, with few exceptions. Gamora tried to have herself killed twice to prevent Thanos from getting the Soul Stone. Doctor Strange was willing to face up to an endless cycle of suffering in order to protect the world from Dormammu. Vision and Scarlet Witch (his lover) killed Vision in order to try and prevent Thanos from killing the Soul Stone. Black Widow and Hawkeye were both willing to throw themselves off the cliff in Endgame to gain the Soul Stone. Peter Quill took off his mask in space to save Gamora, and conversely was willing to kill her to stop Thanos from getting the Soul Stone. Groot sacrificed himself to save the other Guardians in GOTG 1. Antman went subatomic, expecting to never return, in order to stop Yellow Jacket. Quicksilver sacrificed himself to save Hawkeye. Even fucking Yondu sacrificed himself to save Quill. And though this doesn't involve the sacrifice of their lives, Banner has to confront the psychological trauma of his dual identity and damage inflicted by him just by being the Hulk, and Spiderman continually sacrifices a lot of his social standing and important relationships in order to be Spiderman.

Captain Marvel by contrast never demonstrates the strength of character to sacrifice her own life or someone she cares about, because she's written in such a way where she has not had to face such a dilemma. You could argue that she's only been in two movies thus far, so it's unfair to judge her prematurely (even though nearly every other character had such a moment in their first movie), HOWEVER, given the amount of reverence thrust upon her immediately upon her arrival (the creators of the MCU saying she's the most powerful hero, her being portrayed in Endgame with this constant air of moral superiority over the other characters), I would argue she, as a character, hasn't earned the respect the MCU implicitly wants you to thrust upon her.

It is fair to point out that there are other heroes who have not been presented with such a moment, such as Black Panther, Rocket, Drax, and Nebula. However, it's also the case that the latter three characters aren't meant to be treated as the same heroic ideal with the same level of reverence the universe implicitly wishes you to confer upon Captain Marvel. It's also the case that all four of these characters have a good deal of character growth to compensate, which leads me into my next segment.

Part 2: Internal Conflict
One of the other things that makes a hero seem worthy to the audience of the power they wield and the respect the universe implicitly wishes you to give them is their own internal conflict, their character growth. It's something humanizing to see characters who are flawed people, and a lot more emotionally impactful to see them grapple with dilemmas and problems that are partially of their own making (as Tony Stark said in Iron Man 3, "We create our own demons"). It's something that earns our respect when we see someone persevere through the struggle, find the humility to admit to their own flaws, and genuinely change for the better. Seeing a hero overcome their internal conflict is just as important as seeing them overcome the threats posed to them externally.

At the beginning of Thor, Thor is presented as brash, arrogant, entitled and disrespectful, and he faces consequences for his character flaws, he's stripped of his powers and sent to Earth, and only after failing to lift Mjolnir does Thor admit that his father was trying to teach him something but that he was too foolish to see it. It is through his admittance of his own faults and attempts at restitution that he becomes worthy of Mjolnir, and it's a moment that genuinely feels earned, and throughout his other movies we continue to see him evolve. Doctor Strange starts off much the same way, extremely arrogant and self-centered, and when he reunites with Christine he apologizes for how poorly he treated her in the past admitting that he was being an asshole, and he ultimately learns "it's not about [him]" and by the end of the movie is willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of the Earth. Iron Man is also a flawed character, and the movies he's in actually portray his character flaws as character flaws and his character flaws lead to actual consequences for him. He's forced to admit he was wrong about building weapons in Iron Man 1 and seeks to atone for it, his entire motivation for signing the Sokovia accords is restitution for his own mistakes in Age of Ultron, and he's forced to admit he misjudged the situation in Civil War after being called out by Black Widow. 

Black Widow, the Hulk, and Bucky, and Endgame Hawkeye are all alike in that they have to struggle to make peace with their guilt over the terrible things they have done in their past. Starlord has to mature into a character that isn't as self-serving. Rocket and Gamora have to learn to actually let other people in rather than push them away. Black Panther spends Civil War seeking revenge on his father's killer, before he decides not to let his vengeance consume him, and this growth is shown in his interactions with Killmonger where he plainly disavows the latter's desire for vengeance. Scarlet Witch has to deal with the Ultron situation that is partly of her own making and actually learn to take agency in her life over the course of Age of Ultron and Civil War. Nebula has her whole redemption arc from GOTG 2 to Endgame. Etc. Etc.

All of these characters have to deal with genuine character flaws and mistakes that they have to learn to overcome. By contrast, Captain Marvel's character growth in her movie involves no confrontation of her own flaws as a person. Her character arc is realizing that it's everyone else that's an asshole (namely the Kree). "These guys are assholes" is much less compelling character growth than "I've got a bit of the asshole in me, and I have to deal with it." Some might suggest she's the same as Bucky with his Hydra brainwashing, however the crucial difference is that Bucky has to actually struggle with immense guilt over his past actions, and actual consequences of those actions coming from the good guys.

Then of course we have two characters who are portrayed as much less morally flawed than the other heroes. Captain America and Vision (again both of whom have demonstrations of self-sacrifice to compensate for this "shortcoming"). To start with Captain America, though he's portrayed as extremely moral to the point that some want to punch out his perfect teeth, he is displayed with some flawed behavior the universe actually treats as flawed. He played into the toxic bickering of the avengers in their first movie, but more importantly he kept the truth of the death of Tony's parents from him due to his own cowardice and actually had to realize and apologize for it at the end of Civil War. Then there's also the internal struggle over the moral dilemma of his own allegiances in both Winter Soldier and Civil War, which is more compelling as an inner struggle than the question of Captain Marvel's allegiances because it's never black and white. The question of Captain Marvel's allegiance starts with her being brainwashed into thinking the Skrull are unequivocally evil before she learns the Kree are unequivocally evil and flips. By contrast the question of Captain America's allegiance is much more of a moral dilemma for him to face because the situation is often gray. In Winter Soldier he wants to do heroic shit but is genuinely conflicted over the nature of what SHIELD does, and then in Civil War it isn't a question of who the villains are (like with Captain Marvel), but a choice that will pit him against genuinely good people.

With Vision... I got nothing, the dude is basically portrayed as near morally perfect in character. He is however, rather accurately portrayed in this manner, humble rather than arrogant, reluctant to do harm rather than spiteful, self-controlled rather than prone to emotional outbursts. And Captain America in a similar way is portrayed well in this regard. 

By contrast, Captain Marvel is shown to have flaws, either through implication or characterization, however the issue is that the movies she's in treats her flaws as if they don't exist. In both her movie and Endgame she acts condescending and arrogant towards other characters, however the movies treat this as a good thing rather than as a personal flaw. Likewise her entire movie hints at her lack of emotional self-control from the very beginning, and when I first watched it and Yon-Rogg challenged her at the end, I was actually expecting a satisfying conclusion to that plot thread, but she refuses him and the movie treats it as some triumphant moment, which gives off the impression that the MCU doesn't treat this as a flaw but rather just everyone else being an asshole.

It's much less egregious to effectively write a character with few to no flaws, than to write a character with obvious flaws only to have the narrative of the universe never call those flaws into question and treat them as morally flawless. It speaks to a serious disconnect between how she's portrayed and how the people writing her character want you to look at her.

Part 3: Stilted Portrayal
This is more of a minor issue in comparison to the first two, however given that this is one of the few things that annoyed me about Endgame it bears mentioning. In Endgame, she and some of the other heroes are repeatedly put into these awkward stilted dialogues where she and another character jab at each other, only for the other character to go "oh she's right!" And I say stilted because the dialogue itself doesn't feel natural and genuinely character driven. 

I also say stilted because it's completely different from how every other movie has treated this kind of bickering. In all of the Avenger's bickering throughout the various movies in the MCU, there's more balance, more of a sense of back and forth, between characters, that they all have legitimate points and can hold their weight in the banter. Take Tony and Steve's arguments, or Tony and Dr. Strange's arguments, or Tony and Star Lord's arguments, or the Guardian's arguments.

In all of Captain Marvel's bickering with other heroes in Endgame, she immediately comes out on top and the other character goes "oh shit she's right", which feels very stilted and unnatural to the way these back and forths usually go. It feels less character driven, and more like the scenes were written for the sake of conferring upon Captain Marvel an air of moral superiority by making the other person look like some fucking idiot.

Conclusion
My dislike of MCU Captain Marvel as a character once again has nothing to do with the politics surrounding the marketing of the movie, or of Brie Larson's own politics (otherwise I wouldn't be able to enjoy any cinema given the... nature of Hollywood lets say), and none of these criticisms were political in nature. And it has nothing to do with her being a woman, given that many of the examples I used in my first two arguments demonstrated that most other female heroes in the MCU don't share these flaws.

This is the overall thrust of the point I'm making in this thread. The hype from the creators, the marketing around her, the narrative structure and music composition around her in specific moments, and the awkwardly stilted dialogue in Endgame that exists for the sole purpose of making her look better than everyone else, all try really hard to demand the audience's respect for Captain Marvel as a character. They push really hard to demand the audience's reverence for Captain Marvel and to suggest she's this character that deserves reverence.

Yet despite how heavy handed they are in wanting you to thrust a great deal of respect upon her, as a character she is not written in a way that earns that respect. She, in contrast to most other heroes, isn't shown making the hardest choice that requires the strongest of wills, she isn't called into a serious question of personal sacrifice that genuinely earns respect for her moral virtue. She, unlike most other heroes in the MCU, isn't shown grappling with her own flaws as a person or genuinely having to conquer her own demons, but is rather portrayed as a person with discernible and obvious flaws that both herself and the narrative structure of the movies fail to treat as flaws.

The narrative the universe constructs around her is "She's perfect, and everyone who challenges her, friend or foe, is just being an asshole. She can just power through everything that she faces without having to make the choice to sacrifice anything in order to succeed. Isn't she just the best? GIRL POWER!", and that just isn't a compelling narrative. And once again it's not that it's "GIRL POWER!" specifically. Thor could be argued to be a male power fantasy, but the difference is that the entire point of Thor's first movie is that he quite literally has to become worthy of his power through his admission of his faults, character growth, and self-sacrifice. The power fantasy built around someone like Thor is earned.

Captain Marvel, unlike nearly every other character, doesn't earn the level of respect by virtue of her own character that the universe explicitly wants the audience to give her.
HellfireUnit
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on September 27th 2019, 7:44 am
Reserved, will read.
BreakofDawn
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on September 27th 2019, 8:04 am
Just an add-on, but every superhero loses something in their debut film that causes significant character development. Thor loses his worthiness, Strange his hands and love, Stark a good friend, Cap loses everything, Wanda her brother...you get the picture. These characters are relatable no matter how powerful they are, but Carol? What exactly does she lose, and how does it change her? Answer: nothing, and it doesn't. She's stale and boring, with a ridiculous power level (up there with IW Thor) with zero progression or development. It's like having Harry enter in book 1 and beat Voldemort with no logical struggle or conflict.
DC77 (Reborn)
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on September 27th 2019, 1:54 pm
Excellent points.
The Apprentice
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on September 27th 2019, 2:31 pm
Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character 1289255181 100% agreed with everything you said in this thread DMB.
Deronn_Solo
Deronn_Solo

Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character Empty Re: Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character

on September 27th 2019, 8:20 pm
She's the definition of a mary sue character. I do, however, like Larson as an actor, though.

She has a certain charm to her, tbh
LSDMB
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Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character Empty Re: Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character

on September 27th 2019, 8:35 pm
@Deronn_Solo wrote:She's the definition of a mary sue character. I do, however, like Larson as an actor, though.

She has a certain charm to her, tbh
I really liked her in Scott Pilgrim vs the World tbh
SithSauce
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on September 27th 2019, 9:05 pm
I enjoyed this very much. You should do a character analysis on Rey next
EmperorCaedus
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Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character Empty Re: Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character

on December 1st 2019, 4:52 pm
She is a Mary Sue, but Rey is far worse
The Witness
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Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character Empty Re: Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character

on December 2nd 2019, 1:51 am
Pfft another white male hating a strong female character
HellfireUnit
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Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character Empty Re: Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character

on December 2nd 2019, 2:35 am
Looks like toxic masculinity, all hail giant forehead.
IdrisianGraecus
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on December 2nd 2019, 8:11 am
👍🏽👍🏽
CuckedCurry
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Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character Empty Re: Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character

on December 2nd 2019, 11:29 am
@The Witness wrote:Pfft another white male hating a strong female character
Wow, just another Right Wing Conservative. Bet he likes Ben Shapiro and those other Neo Nazis. Knew you were the kind to fat shame. Take your ass back to Arkansas you Neo Nazi scum!!!!!!!!
EmperorCaedus
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Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character Empty Re: Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character

on December 2nd 2019, 1:46 pm
1. Not white 2. She is still poorly written.
The Witness
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Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character Empty Re: Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character

on December 3rd 2019, 11:18 am
I hope people know that I was joking Lmao
HellfireUnit
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Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character Empty Re: Why MCU Captain Marvel is Not a Good Character

on December 3rd 2019, 12:08 pm
Curry's the trollest person around here, no worries
lorenzo.r.2nd
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Today at 1:42 pm
How did u put neo nazi and Ben Shapiro in the same sentence like that when Ben is a jew??
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