Is Captain Marvel A Zionist Superhero?
Captain Marvel is the first female lead of a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. Her movie is the first female-fronted film to break $400 million in its opening weekend. Is she also the first Zionist superhero of the MCU?
There’s no real way to make this argument without spoiling one of the major reveals of “Captain Marvel,” but for those who care more about Jewish glosses to superhero films — or who are among the legions who saw the flick already — here’s the case for why.
The main antagonists of “Captain Marvel” are the Skrulls, a race of ridge-faced green aliens who can simulate or “sim” any humanoid being they come into contact with. The Kree, the “hero warrior” race Captain Marvel – or Vers – belongs to, lead us to believe the Skrulls are a violent and invasive race, insidious in how they can pass for members of other, more acceptable alien races. Their danger lies in how hard they are to detect.
Yes, we have Space Jewson our hands. It doesn’t take much deep, allegorical thinking to place Diaspora Jews and their penchant for assimilation into the position of the Skrulls. But about halfway through the film, something changes.
After a series of scuffles on earth, Captain Marvel learns the truth.
She is not Kree, but an earthling named Carol Danvers and the Skrulls aren’t the bad guys. They are, in fact, refugees. They are without a home and their every effort in the endless war with the Kree is to find a way to settle on a planet they can call their own.
In a whiplash move, the main Skrull bad guy Talos (Jewish actor Ben Mendelsohn in his native Australian accent) becomes a major ally for Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers. We’re even taken to a displaced Skrull camp far above earth’s atmosphere where we meet Talos’ family.
The point is driven home in a later scene, where Talos and his wife and child take shelter in the home of Carol’s Air Force buddy Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch). While the adults sit down to dinner, Maria’s daughter Monica (Akira Akbar) sits on the stairs with Talos’ daughter. They discuss changing their appearance to something suitably human and hiding away there. Ultimately, though, the grownups decide that the Skrull won’t be safe on earth.
“They need a home of their own,” Maria tells Monica.
Captain Marvel agrees and, in fact, after squaring off against her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), commits herself to finding a suitable planet for the Skrull people, a job which appears to have kept her busy for nearly a quarter of a century – only ending when she receives a distress call from Nick Fury and just in time for the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”
Of course there is room for broader and timelier associations. One could even make the case that the Skrulls stand in for Palestinians and the technologically superior Kree are Israelis. More generally, Skrulls can fulfill the purpose of those seeking asylum at the Southern Border or the countless Syrians and Kurds hoping to escape the quagmire of a destructive war.
But the imitative qualities that distinguish the Skrull fall so neatly into centuries of Jewish tropes – some anti-Semitic and some accurate – that we’ll go ahead and call it here. Carol Danvers aka Vers aka Captain Marvel is a Zionist. Encouragingly, by leaving space for interpretation the film proves that support for a Jewish (or Skrullish) State can extend to support for stateless peoples everywhere.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at [email protected].