Captain Marvel delivered on a long-awaited possibility: a fight against the Skrull warriors. The aliens in the changing form were at the center of the caravans of the film. They were scary and threatening as they infiltrated crowds of unsuspecting humans. The legendary antagonists of the Earth have been around for decades, but their portrayal of Carol Danvers, of Brie Larson, is anything but Marvel tradition; Captain Marvel adds a layer of welcome complexity as to how to think about Skrulls and the politics of the Marvel film universe.
In the first piece of Captain Marvel, the main character is an agent of an empire, belonging to a Kree military unit called Starforce that hunts Skrulls hiding on planets all over the galaxy. In most Marvel comic stories, the Skrulls have been described as explicit malefactors. In the beginning The four fantastics stories, comics legend Jack Kirby drew them as frightening, humanoid creatures that looked trollish and reptilian. Since their introduction, they have been shown to invade, personify and break trust to destabilize important relationships on the planets they were aiming for. At Marvel's 2008 crossover event, Secret Invasion, paranoia rips apart the Earth's superhero community after revealing that the Skrulls had secretly replaced many metahumans, including prominent personalities like Elektra. The Skrulls were wrong.
Again, empires are not so big either. As a concept, the main objective of an empire is to self-perpetuate and appropriate the resources of other sovereign entities to ensure that the ideals and objectives of its animating ethics are largely disseminated. The loyalists of these companies are convinced that their empire is right, and to reestablish the ranks of loyalists is often the job of senior officials.
[[[[Ed. Note: The rest of this article contains spoilers for Captain Marvel.]
In Captain Marvel, the film crew makes the smart decision to thoroughly describe Carol's characterization, an attitude that comes directly from the revitalization of the character by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. While wanting to excel as a soldier in a chain of command, his natural attitude to the DGAF resists compliance. The great turn of the film confronts the reality of being a cog in an empire: the lives, loves and families trampled under the shoes of the empire are like those of us. In this case, Carol learns that the Skrulls hunted by Starforce are refugees simply trying to survive, not crazy spies with plots to conquer the world.
Skulls make it another powerful and metaphorical. They can look like any human being, but come from a culture that is foreign to them. The parallels with the current political moment shine brightly, as US soldiers advance under a neo-isolationist regime that wants to revoke the citizenship of people of immigrant background, build a wall to prevent immigrants from countries painted as dangerous to block the entrance to visitors from other countries, mainly Muslims. The story is littered with conflicts related to propaganda in the same direction. It's a welcome change to have Captain Marvel s support so strongly on such radioactive themes.
Making Skrulls refugees is also a reason for being humanitarian in the heroic transformation of Carol Danvers. When the revelation of the Skrull's refugee status on our hero appears, his series of nonconformists is no longer just a sign of a stubborn woman who wants to chart her own path. Like an Edward Snowden publicly exposing the data collection tactics used by the federal government towards ordinary citizens, Carol finds a cause that highlights her sincerity. As Captain Marvel, she became the tool of an empire – be it the Kree or the US military – to become a champion of freedom.
As Black Panther before that, Captain Marvel draws on real-world events to turn the subtext into real text. Most superhero stories end up largely by maintaining the status quo: a villain is defeated and any promise of systemic change is gradually passed on to an individual level. Which makes Black Panther and Captain Marvel more political than, say, Winter SoldierThis is how the main characters move to reorganize whole societies or cultures. After Killmonger's one-man invasion of Willanda, T'Challa creates bonds that will impact his country and the outside world. The end of Captain Marvel sees Carol promise to demolish the whole Kree empire, now that she feels the injustice that reigns there.
Carol Danvers' journey is not just about strengthening her sense of self as a marginalized member of society. She becomes a luminary who fights for a persecuted population, despite the fact that it is sentient beings that she has been dragged into hatred and mistrust. It is a cosmically significant heroism that surpasses the physical levels of power and flies away to become a unique source of inspiration.
Evan Narcisse is a journalist and critic who writes on video games, comics, movies and television. He is also the author of the Ascent of the black panther graphic novel for Marvel Comics.