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Mar 17 2019

Captain Marvel is in theatres, but the real heroes are on the streets

A film adaptation long-anticipated by comic book fans has finally reached theatres, and the origin story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) latest hero, Carol Denvers (better known as Captain Marvel) is now on the silver screen.

Captain Marvel holds a special place for comic book lovers, especially fans of Marvel’s Civil War 2 series, where she appeared going up against Iron Man. Fans are eagerly waiting to find out what Captain Marvel will do in Avengers: Endgame (due in theatres in May), and it looks like she will take a starring role in future Avengers films. Because of this, Carol Denvers’ backstory starts from the beginning.

The screenplay, which is quite different from the comics, was written to fill in the MCU blanks some people have been wondering about, and Denvers’ story, which could have been told over two films, is crammed into a 120-minute movie. Captain Marvel appears to serve as a bridge to the MCU, but as a result, it can never be as successful as the Black Panther or last year’s ground-breaking Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman, DC’s first female superhero, is like Captain Marvel in that her job was to connect the past to the present. The difference, though, is that Captain Marvel's story needed to be tied into the MCU, which had been developed over a decade in 20 different films. In Wonder Woman, character development doesn't get swallowed up by a lot of plot distractions, so we see Wonder Woman getting a taste of how destructive humanity can be, and we watch her learn about the huge sacrifices superheroes must make. 

In Captain Marvel, we learn about Carol Denvers’ powers and character as well as Nick Fury’s early years with SHIELD and the reasons for the Kree–Scrull war. However, with this much going on all at once, the superhero is left undeveloped.

Basically, Captain Marvel’s, or rather, Carol Denvers’ backstory in the comic books has changed at various times, so she doesn’t have the same continuity as Wonder Woman. The first Carol Denvers was a US Air Force officer and Security Chief of a restricted military base. She meets the Kree soldier Mar-Vell, who’s disguised as Dr Walter Lawson while on Earth. While Mar-Vell is fighting another Kree soldier named Yon-Rogg, Denvers gets hit with a laser and becomes Captain Marvel.

This paragraph contains spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend skipping to the next paragraph! The film deals with Carol Denvers’ transformation into Captain Marvel and then takes various adventures from different comics published over the decades. The Mar-Vell situation, Carol Denvers’ memory loss, and the evolution of the human-Kree hybrids are all elements taken from different eras of the story. These sorts of details will especially interest fans of the comic book. Also, in a surprising twist, in the Secret Invasion story (a pivotal point in Marvel history), the Scrull people are portrayed as good guys rather than villains.

In Captain Marvel, which was shot by a team made up almost entirely of women, Carol Denvers is unlike male MCU characters in that she doesn’t have a love interest. She’s the MCU’s most powerful hero; she stands on her own two feet, she can overcome every adversity, and she doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. In short, she has a lot of qualities to be a role model for young girls today.

As part of the marketing strategy, March 8 was chosen as the release date for the MCU’s first film starring a woman, so while a super woman was in the cinemas on International Women’s Day, thousands of heroic women were also filling the streets of Istanbul.

International Women's Day march in Istanbul, March 8, 2019
International Women's Day march in Istanbul. March 8, 2019

 

On every night of March 8 since 2003, the Feminist Night March has taken place on İstiklal, Taksim’s main boulevard. This march is in support of women’s groups, forums, and other organizations, and they speak out against sexism, male violence, homophobia, and discrimination.

Every year, the organisers get a permit to walk down İstiklal, but this year, the Governor of Istanbul said he would only allow the march if they did it somewhere else. On the day of the march, Abdurrahman Dilipak, a journalist for the pro-government newspaper Akit, accused anyone who joined the Feminist Night March of “supporting prostitution.”

On the day of March 8, the police closed the part of İstiklal where the march was to take place, and they didn’t allow the women to gather at the planned place or start walking. The street was packed, and marchers were protesting with applause, whistles, and slogans. At this point, based on videos posted to social media, the police started attacking the crowd with pepper spray and rubber bullets.

Police confront protesters at the 2019 Women's Day march in Istanbul
Police confront protesters at the 2019 Women's Day march in Istanbul

 

The police intervention at the Feminist Night March and afterwards turned into something different, however. Burak Doğan, a journalist for Yeni Şafak, another pro-government newspaper, shared a video on his personal Twitter account, with the following claim: “Last night in Taksim during the call to prayer, these sneaky scumbags were protesting.” After he shared the video, people started claiming that the march was a protest against the call to prayer. In his campaign speeches for the upcoming local elections, even the President and head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, repeated this claim. Regardless of the joint statement released by a number of different women’s groups saying they couldn’t hear the call to prayer, and even though they said they were protesting the police and others trying to stop the march, the event took on an entirely different dimension.

These days, women who want equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunities, and equal representation are accused of trying to undermine the family, particularly by conservative and far-right factions. Some authoritarian university administrations have shut down gender studies institutes and departments. A similar process is happening all over Turkey, where there are policies that interfere with women joining the labour force and ensure women’s demands will never be considered.

Despite this antiquated approach, it’s undeniable that women’s movements are gaining momentum around the world and taking hold in our lives. Woman superheroes are onscreen all by themselves, but the real-life heroes are struggling for their rights.

Regardless of how Captain Marvel becomes the leader of the Avengers and saves the world and the universe, in the near future women will get their rights and make the world a better place to live. No matter how hard some men may try to stop them, those men do not have the power to reverse what has begun.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.

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