Goose the Cat   |   Marvel Studios

Went with family to watch Captain Marvel (2019) a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it. It was a fun movie with a few interesting twists. My favourite character was the “cat”. But it wasn’t a movie that had the gravitas of, for example, Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014). So it’s hard to see the movie making a serious statement about feminism or anything else. Which is why I was surprised to read the article by Greg Morse who sees the movie as a serious assault on what he perceives as a biblical view of gender roles.

Morse expects that there are those who would question why he takes the movie so seriously.

Am I nitpicking? It is a movie after all. I wish it were. Instead of engaging the movie’s ideology as mere fiction, a fun escape to another world, we have allowed it to bear deadly fruit on earth. Along with Disney, we abandon the traditional princess vibe, and seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong like men. Cinderella trades her glass slipper for combat boots; Belle, her books for a bazooka. Does the insanity bother us anymore?

My response to the above: “Why so serious?” to borrow a line from someone from the D.C. universe. I have long decided that movies are primarily for entertainment. That does not mean they don’t contain worldview agendas but I take all philosophical allusions in the movies lightly. One of my all-time favourite movies is The Matrix (1999) which has a mishmash of Christian and Buddhist elements but, hey, it’s only a movie, albeit a great one.

If there was indeed an evil secret feminist agenda behind the movie, they should have done a much better job. As Jess Joho entitles her article on the movie, “Captain Marvel’s shallow take on feminism doesn’t land”. Frankly, if you are looking for better and more serious discussions on gender roles in super hero movies, I would recommend Wonder Woman (2017) or Black Panther (2018).

Perhaps what is more jarring about Morse’s article on the movie is how he sees the movie distorting a biblical view of women. He writes:

As I consider Disney’s new depiction of femininity in Captain Marvel, I cannot help but mourn. How far we’ve come since the days when we sought to protect and cherish our women.

The great drumroll of the previous Avenger movies led to this: a woman protecting men and saving the world. The mightiest of all the Avengers — indeed, after whom they are named — is the armed princess turned feminist queen, who comes down from the tower to do what Prince Charming could not.

There is no space here to go into the very involved discussion of gender roles in the Bible, but I don’t believe the Bible portrays women as helpless damsels that need to be rescued by Prince Charmings. If anyone needed rescuing in the Bible it was Adam. God created Eve to rescue Adam from his loneliness.

Whatever may be your view as to what roles men and women can and should play in church and society, the biblical norm is partnership — men and women as partners, bringing different strengths and abilities to their joint service for the Lord. And I am sure we know by now that the word “helper” in Genesis 2:18 is a word that God sometimes uses for Himself.

Any suggestion that this particular word (helper) denotes one who has only an associate or subordinate status to a senior member is refuted by the fact that most frequently this same word describes Yahweh’s relationship to Israel. He is Israel’s help(er) because he is the stronger one (Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 1–17 [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990], 176).

I don’t think the lesson here is that women are stronger than men, although I am sure in some areas they are. The biblical picture is not one of competition between men and women but of men and women as loving partners serving God together.

I have no problem believing in strong women because of my mum. She came to Malaysia from Hong Kong after the war when she was still a teenager, and against incredible odds made a life for herself. She and dad had very different strengths and I have learnt from both of them even as I was sometimes traumatised by their fights. Dad has passed on for many years now (2003). Mum is 91 and fighting dementia (she can clearly remember only a few of us), and she is bed-bound because of a broken hip. She is fighting her toughest and probably her last battle but she continues to fight on with faith and courage. I salute you mum. You are truly Captain Marvel.