THE SYMBOLIC LIFE (Summer 2019)
We have had a challenging year on many levels from politics to the environment. On the political side last November history repeated itself in a disturbing, yet interesting way. In 1991 Anita Hill testified at the Clarence Thomas supreme court nomination hearings as to his inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment. He was still nominated and she is still vilified some twenty-seven years later for speaking out. But the following year became “the year of the woman” as more women were elected to Congress than even before.
Last year Christine Blasey Ford testified at the hearings of supreme court nominee Bret Kavanaugh concerning her experience of sexual assault. Reflecting the deep split in our society over such matters, both Ford and Kavanaugh were vilified by various parties, but like Clarence Thomas, Kavanaugh became a supreme court justice. And once again, some twenty-seven years after the Anita Hill testimony, more women were elected to Congress in record numbers. It has been and continues to be a long hard road for our culture to find gender balance and equality.
Curiously in the fantasy world of Marvel comics, now some twenty odd movies later, it also became the year of the woman, when the Marvel film franchise finally produced a stand-alone movie for a woman character, Captain Marvel. (Two years ago I wrote about Wonder Woman as the first DC Comic Universe character to get her stand-alone movie.) Captain Marvel is a wonderful tale of an Artemis woman coming into her own, and discovering who she really is and the energy she has been given through her own indomitable spirit. We first meet her as Vers, a warrior/hero who is part of a special team of fighters for the Kree civilization somewhere out in the far reaches of our galaxy (or even beyond it). She is mentored by Commander Yon-Rogg who is always willing to show her that he can best her in hand-to-hand combat, and is teaching her to control her emotions.
From the very beginning, as she develops her warrior skills, confusing dreams and memories haunt her. The Kree would have her dismiss these dreams. She goes on an assignment to help rescue a spy that the Kree believe the Skrulls, a race of shapeshifters, may have captured. It turns out that the Skrulls have set a trap to capture Vers, as they seek to know what her memories are as these memories might help them to find a lost energy source that she may at one time have known. As they are extracting her memories, Vers escapes their space craft and lands on earth, where she encounters a civilization seemingly unknown to her. She attracts the attention of Nick Fury the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., the agency that has been established to deal with unusual threats to earth. Skrulls follow her and their ability to shift into any shape or form leads to a series of intriguing chases and “who can you trust” moments, both for Vers and Nick Fury.
For a viewer not aware of the world of the Avengers, this film offers a good introduction. The memories drawn out of Vers by General Talos of the Skrulls lead Vers and Nick Fury to the secure air base where Vers’ mentor, scientist Wendy Lawson, was working on a light speed engine. The files indicate that Lawson and the pilot of the plane she was in died in a crash. Pictures suggest that Vers might have been that pilot. She and Fury then take a jet to visit the last person to see her alive, fellow pilot Maria Rambeau, who also appears in Vers’ dreams. Rambeau and her daughter Monica reveal to Vers who she really is–pilot Carol Danvers (the name Vers coming from a piece of her dog tag found by Yon-Rogg after the crash). Then General Talos appears and seeks to make a reconciliation, now that he realizes who Vers really is. He has the black box recording of her crash (pronounced lost by the authorities) which helps Danvers recover further memories, and can help Talos find the missing ship and energy source he seeks, the Tesseract. The coordinates they find in the black box recording help locate the Wendy Lawson lab on a Kree ship in space. The family of Talos and other Skrull refuges are also found there.
As they are reunited Yon-Rogg and his squad arrive. Now that Carol knows the truth of the matter and why her mentor was killed, they seek to drain her of the energy she has been filled with when she completed Lawson’s attempt to destroy the engine’s energy source. Carol resists, and reclaims this energy and more, when the supreme intelligence reminds her that she is only human. Memories from her childhood and youth of picking herself back up after she has been knocked down, help her to hold on to herself and the energy. As Lawson’s real name was Mar-vel, in her new super hero identity Carol becomes Captain Marvel, and the source for the name of the Avengers.
The film is a wonderful addition to the emerging stories and historical events that expand and deepen our appreciation of the largely untapped potentials that lie within the depths of the feminine side of the psyche. Editor: Steve Galipeau