Is Captain Marvel The MCU’s Answer to Superman?

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Marvel)

There’s been a fair amount of noise online in the past couple of days surrounding Captain Marvel.

Disney has shown some footage from the upcoming movie, albeit behind closed doors and veiled in secrecy. The movie has a female composer, and it’s kind of depressing how everyone at Marvel is so eager to pat themselves on the back for this achievement.

Plus, Brie Larson has been talking to the press about her role.

It sounds like the Captain Marvel of the MCU is going to be a powerhouse in a league of her own. Where Thor can occasionally electrocute a bunch of soldiers, Captain Marvel can punch planets out of the sky.

Says Larson:

“She’s so strong. She can move planets! So, to me, it’s like how far can I go with this strength?”

This is a good question. How powerful should Larson’s character be, and how can she go about communicating this strength in her performance?

The Relatable Superheroes

By and large, the heroes of the MCU work because they are relatable.

Captain America is not all-powerful. He’s just a guy who tries to do the right thing, and who happens to be super strong.

Iron Man, similarly, is very capable in a tough situation, but he’s deeply flawed.

Even the biggest, strongest heroes of the MCU are relatable. The Hulk’s powers are beyond the capabilities of most audience-members, but we understand what it’s like to get in a big angry rage.

Or, indeed, to always be angry. This moment from “The Avengers” still might be the best single character beat from the entire MCU.

So what does the MCU gain by bringing in a superhero who can move planets?

Simple: the story finally gains a Superman.

The Importance of Perfection

Contrary to the belief of Zack Snyder, Superman’s incredible powers are not boring.

There’s something very real; very fun, about an inspiring wish-fulfilment superhero who can basically do anything.

Superman is a lot stronger than his most notorious villains, such as Lex Luthor, and that’s no bad thing. The appeal comes from seeing someone who can do all of these incredible things. That’s the point of the character.

The MCU doesn’t have an all-powerful being. All of its superheroes and villains are far more subdued; far less fantastical.

Even if they do act like they’re made of rubber when they get punched or thrown off buildings.

None of these characters take on the role of the inspiring, aspirational perfect being. This means that we don’t get to see incredible cosmic stuff in a Marvel movie.

We get a bit of this in “Infinity War”, especially in the fight between Thanos and Doctor Strange, but I’d like to see more. I want a superhero who can literally shatter planets, fighting against an equally matched opponent, duking it out in the depths of space.

This is what the Superman/Zod fight in “Man of Steel” could have been if Zack Snyder weren’t more interested in creating an incredibly awkward 9/11 allegory.

Captain Marvel lets the MCU remove the training wheels, and I’m looking forward to seeing the kind of incredibly visual spectacle that we’ll see in the character’s solo movie, as well as her eventual role in “Avengers 4”.

There’s nothing wrong with a movie that features a nigh-omnipotent superhero. If we get to see Brie Larson punch Thanos into a supernova, I will be very, very happy.