What Are You Standing For?

Captain Marvel is a significant movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was Marvel’s first female-led film and the last movie before the epic conclusion of the Infinity Saga, Avengers: Endgame. It also caused Rotten Tomatoes to change their review policy due to the abundance of negative reviews prior to its release. Why all of the hate? Is it coming from sexist fanboys? Is it due to the movie itself? It is true that Captain Marvel is intended to be a symbol of female empowerment. And, yes, most of the memories of her past are filled with angry men who mock her and try to keep her down (including her own father).

 

So, is this movie nothing more than identity politics and propaganda? No. First and foremost, it’s a superhero film; it contains many of the same themes of hope and triumph over adversity like any other movie in the MCU.

For most of the movie, Captain Marvel is known simply as “Vers.” She has no recollection of her past, just snippets of memories that—as mentioned above—are mostly negative experiences of her crashing, falling, and failing while men laugh at her and tell her she isn’t good enough. But at the end of the movie, when she fully becomes Captain Marvel, we see how each of those memories ends: she gets back up. After every crash, fall, and failure, she stands to her feet. This is the true measure of a hero—not physical strength or superpowers—but strength of character. This is meant to inspire us. Being a hero means standing against evil and injustice—even when you’ve been beaten up, knocked down, and it seems impossible to win.

What Are You Standing For?
Nowadays, it is fashionable to be an activist. Many are standing, kneeling, speaking out, marching, and protesting—but it is not particularly praiseworthy to stand for just anything. For the majority of the film, Vers is fighting for the wrong side. She has been fooled into thinking that her group of fighters are the good guys when they are, in fact, just the opposite. Her actions show it: as seen in the clip above, she destroys and steals whatever she wants and believes she has full authority to do so. Her mission is all that matters. And, sadly, this is the mindset of some “activists” too, that the end justifies the means. People are assaulted, property is destroyed—all, ironically, in the name of peace and tolerance. But violence does not reflect well upon any protest and is a clear sign that perhaps that assembly is not just after all.

However, when Vers discovers that the people she is hunting are actually the victims, she abandons her original mission and chooses to help them instead. This is the point where Vers becomes Captain Marvel. She becomes a hero. So we must ask ourselves: How do we know if we are standing for the right side? Are we the heroes of our story or are we the villains of someone else’s? The answer may sound simple and cliché, but there is only one way to know if our cause is just: it aligns with God’s Word.

Christian Activism
When we witness the ugly side of political activism, it is easy to brush off all activists as a bunch of militant troublemakers or “social justice warriors.” But the Bible makes something very clear: justice matters deeply to God. Repeatedly throughout the Bible, God commands his people to stand for what is right and to protect the downtrodden. Here is just one example of many: “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4, NIV). Jesus taught that any time we help someone in need, we are helping him, and any time we reject someone in need, we are rejecting him (Matthew 25:31-46).

All Christians are called to be activists, to make a difference in our culture in the most pure and righteous way. Two such examples are the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, an organization whose mission is to “defend human dignity and to oppose sexual exploitation,” and Save the Storks, who stand for the unborn and their mothers and fathers.

While there may be instances of people using the title of “activist” for attention or violent actions, we cannot allow cynicism to lead us to forget that we Christians have a duty to love and protect those in need. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors, but he also commanded us to love our enemies. To love those who are like us and those who are unlike us. Those who share our political or religious beliefs and those who don’t. Those who wave the American flag and those who wave the rainbow flag. Because we are all created in the image of God and are deserving of love, compassion, dignity, and respect.

Standing with Valor
The core theme of Captain Marvel is the same as every other superhero movie: to stand against injustice. But strength and conviction aren’t enough. After all, villains are strong, intelligent, and determined. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be much of a threat (and the movies wouldn’t be very interesting!) The difference is that heroes have valor. They bravely stand for what is right. They use their power to help others, not to oppress them. Let us do the same.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:10-13, NIV

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