Captain Marvel in the Patriarchal Universe


I remember watching Wonder Woman for the third time with tears in my eyes. Recovering from clearly delineated gender roles takes a while, and I still get somewhat emotional when I see any woman, fictional or real, realize her full potential and act on it. Captain Marvel was a similar experience. (By the way, you should go see it.)

I did not read many reviews before seeing the film; I wanted to keep free from bias as possible. The only comments I encountered online were on Facebook via Marvel’s business page, and they were full of men commenting about Brie Larson’s political bias and how they were going to sit Captain Marvel out because of it. After viewing the film twice, I kept seeing similar comments. I even saw comments of concern about a political agenda from people who aren’t strangers to me, and learned that there was an actual boycott manufactured from pure hysteria. To all of those people: ALL COMICS HAVE BEEN AND ARE POLITICAL. You just feel threatened because it may or may not have a different political view than you do. Please be honest.

Ahem. I digress.

Then, thanks to Twitter, I stumble upon this gem: Behold Your Queen: The Real Conflict in Captain Marvel. (If you’re not familiar with Desiring God, just think John Piper, and you’re good to go.) I was tempted to destroy it line by line, but instead I will post excerpts and insert non-technical commentary because that takes less energy.

Let’s start with part of the intro. Greg writes: “According to its writer, Ms. Marvel was ‘a feminist role model.’ She eventually became Captain Marvel in the 2012 rendition of the comic.”

I want to pick at the term “feminist role model” for a minute, because the most valid non-film art critique I have seen of Captain Marvel, so far, is that its feminism fails to be intersectional. So right at the outset, Greg’s concept of feminism is flawed, but that’s to be expected. Moving on.

“I do not blame Marvel for inserting the trending feminist agenda into its universe. Where else can this lucrative ideology — which contrasts so unapologetically with reality — go to be sustained, if not to an alternative universe?”

So your assumption here is that the concept of a powerful woman is mythological, i.e., imaginary. What’s the proof?

“Verse after verse, story after story, fact after fact, study after study, example after example dispels the myth of sameness between the sexes.”

That’s your proof? Weak. Also, what “sameness” are you referring to here? Since you’re presumably a sola scriptura guy, I’ll start here: Do you consider the scriptures to be imaginary? because there are some powerful women in there. Just saying. Have you heard of the judge Deborah? the apostle Junia?

After Greg concludes that the film is a mediocre, best-rented-from-Redbox-flick, he moves on to his main critique.

As I consider Disney’s new depiction of femininity in Captain Marvel, I cannot help but mourn. How far we’ve come since the days of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.

The great drumroll of the previous Avenger movies led to this: a woman protecting men and saving the world. The mightiest of all the Avengers — indeed, after whom they are named — is the armed princess turned feminist queen, who comes down from the tower to do what Prince Charming could not.

Actually, we have come a long way since Sleeping Beauty, and that’s a good thing. It seems Greg has no more than a mere sentimental attachment to these gender roles, because he still hasn’t presented any evidence.

“Am I nitpicking? It is a movie after all. I wish it were. Instead of engaging the movie’s ideology as mere fiction, a fun escape to another world, we have allowed it to bear deadly fruit on earth. Along with Disney, we abandon the traditional princess vibe, and seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong like men. Cinderella trades her glass slipper for combat boots; Belle, her books for a bazooka. Does the insanity bother us anymore?” [emphasis mine]

After saying the concept of feminism is a fantasy, Greg still seems torn on whether this is important enough to address. It’s only a movie, right? Except, according to him, things like movies are to blame for empowering women. Let me get this straight: even though the concept of equality is completely imaginary, it has gained great strides in real life. Is it still imaginary? I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer combat books to glass slippers because I’m clumsy, and I wouldn’t mind a bazooka to go with my books.

“We ought to lament that feminist lust cannot be appeased, even with blood. It takes its daughters and now, calling men’s bluff, advocates for sending its mothers into the flames.”

Feminist lust? I define true feminist lust as the desire to see all women, including women of color and LGBTQ, have equal status and opportunity to white men. What’s this bloodshed Greg’s talking about?

“Unquestionably, men ought support women’s desires to be affirmed, respected, and honored. But indeed, few actions display our resolve to honor our women more than excluding them from the carnage of the battlefield.”

In order to make women feel, I don’t know, womanly, Greg writes, they need to stay out of the battlefield. Hey Greg, have you heard of the Dahomey Amazons, though?

“But our God, our nature, our love must firmly say, You are too precious, my mother, my daughter, my beloved. It is my glory to die that you may live.”

Greg has yet to prove that nature demands men to fight and women to stay behind. His view is completely ahistorical.

“But our God, our nature, our love must firmly say, You are too precious, my mother, my daughter, my beloved. It is my glory to die that you may live.”

“We used to be attuned enough to know how shameful it is for men to hide behind their women, hoping she will take down Goliath. Have we forgotten how precious our women are? Have we forgotten that it is our glory to die in their place?”

Greg, you still haven’t offered any evidence for these gender roles which I’m now assuming are imaginary. Is it really shameful to stand beside a strong woman? Or is your masculinity a little bit fragile? Or have you forgotten about all the women who have served in combat throughout human history?

“God’s story for all eternity consists of a Son who slew a Dragon to save a Bride. Jesus did not put his woman forward, and neither should we. Where Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. He is the Good Shepherd who laid his life down for his people. Even from the cross, God’s wrath crushing him, he saw to the welfare of his mother (John 19:26–27). Should we so cowardly send our women to protect our children and us? Protecting our women with our very lives is not about their competency, but their value.”

And there it is, the implication that men assume the role of Jesus, and women are lower status humans because they are not allowed to assume any type leadership role. Coming from a guy who also wrote a lament about men becoming too feminine, this should be no surprise.

I conclude that Greg’s main problem is women.