We have a Friday night tradition of movie night in our home. Almost every Friday, we watch a movie together as a family snuggled on the sofa with popcorn and other occasional treats. Over the years, my husband and I have watched our fair share of princess and animated films with the latest progression to Marvel movies as our girls are getting older.
Recently, we watched Captain Marvel. I was blown away by the underlying spiritual message of encouragement I received from this movie.
The movie opens with the main female character, Vers, in an identity crisis due to a period of amnesia. She is haunted by memories of her past with an inability to determine who she is and what her purpose has been or will be in the future. Sound familiar? I think we have all been there, likely not to the extent of Vers, but yet in a relatable sort of way.
We are quickly introduced to the character of Yon-Rogg, who is Vers’ mentor. At this point, it is clear they have a mysterious and unique relationship with an aspect of power struggle lurking not so inconspicuously in the background. We are led to believe Yon-Rogg is a good guy who wants the best for her.
Vers is unable to piece together who she is on her own and has built her identity around the information Yon-Rogg has provided. Again, does this sound familiar? We tend to believe who we are based on what those around us tell us about ourselves.
We find out near mid-movie the main character is actually a human by the name of Carol Danvers, not the alien life form called “Vers” she has believed for the previous six years.
She had been so desperate to find an identity and a purpose she had believed the lies fostering a false identity that effectively served to hide her true identity. She had been deceived by a great deceiver.
The actual enemy turns out to be her “home” planet of Kree and her Starforce teammates with her supposed mentor, Yon-Rogg knowing exactly who she is and lying to her to cover the truth. Why? He knew her true potential just as our enemy knows our true potential. He seeks to feed us lies to cover our true identity in an attempt to decrease our kingdom impact. If the enemy is attacking us, we must first be perceived as a threat with potential. Vers is no different.
Yon-Rogg repeatedly chastised Vers’ character to control her emotions and avoid abusing her superpower. However, it becomes evident this training is a way to control her power in order to prevent her from becoming who she had the potential to be once set free from the limiting grasp of the enemy. Her emotions are depicted as a weakness, but in reality serve to rouse her underlying strength. This is often the case with us in which a painful season leads to a strength (in Christ) we did not know we could muster.
The stage is set for a galactic battle with seemingly everything at stake and humans oblivious to its existence. This parallels the spiritual realm constantly in battle all around us on a daily basis. Similarly, humans are unable to detect or fully understand this spiritual realm although the battle wages in our very presence. This battle is between good and evil with the majority of humans unaware of its existence. The parallels to that alone are enough to evoke a thoughtful discussion.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)
However, what I found to be most spiritually significant was the growth process of Carol Danvers and the parallels to our own process of spiritual growth and sanctification. If I lost you with that statement, hang in there.
Carol had been fed multiple lies about who she was to hide her true identity. The enemy feeds us lies on a daily basis for this same purpose. We are made to believe we are weak, not good enough, insignificant, unworthy of love, or too broken to redeem.
… there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:44 (ESV)
Men and women are both attacked in this manner with our unique characteristics (provided by the Creator himself) as the typical target. We all fight a mantra of lies from the enemy meant to discourage us from contributing to kingdom growth each and every day, sometimes on an hourly basis. The truth is, we are weak when acting in our own strength. However, once we uncover our true identity as a child of God firmly rooted in Christ, we find our strength.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
The most powerful part of this movie for me was the scene in which Vers (Carol) is brought to the Kree Starforce team to be reprogrammed or brainwashed by the higher power, referred to as the Supreme Intelligence. In this scene, Vers is held by symbolic vines of restraint while Kree Starforce attempts to feed her more lies to realign her to their side. This is where Carol Danvers comes to know the true power within her when she relies on the truth she does know rather than focusing on all she does not know. Relying on this truth breaks her free from the stronghold she had been bound to.
When referred to as Vers by Supreme Intelligence, she boldly confirms her recently discovered identity stating, “My name is Carol!” and gains incredible strength as she rejects the lies to push against the very forces seeking to contain her. In this scene, I picture every one of us pressing against the lies and strongholds of our enemy and forging forward boldly stating, “I am a child of God!” with our strength imparted by acknowledging our identity in Christ. The enemy’s attempt to control and limit us is no match against the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us.
Carol’s next line is, “I’ve been fighting with one arm tied behind my back. But what happens when I’m finally set free?” as she tears the inhibitor from her neck, which she had been misled to believe was the source of her power. She then forges forward with even more strength than ever before. She breaks free from the vines holding her physical body while she is in the spiritual realm.
I picture this moment as our chains falling off, our spirit being set free from the bondage of sin as we are fully forgiven and redeemed, pressing forward in a renewed strength that can only come from the one true savior, Jesus Christ.
We are set free from the inner demons of our past, no longer bound by worldly expectations or labels we have been assigned throughout our lifetime. We break free of boundaries set by who our society tells us we should be. We are made new and true freedom is finally obtained as we embrace who our Creator designed us to be.
If you have followed me through this, you can probably imagine my desire to jump up and break out in applause and shouts of praise in sheer joy by this time in the movie. This powerful scene symbolized my own strength in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit within believers, which empowers us to press on when circumstances seem too strong.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. – 2 Corinthians 3:17 (ESV)
Yon-Rogg attempts to exert emotional control and manipulation over Carol Danvers’ character even once defeated as if he still had something to gain. However, Danvers no longer falls for the manipulation and replies with, “I have nothing to prove to you.” She is finally free from bondage.
The movie goes on to conclude with the more powerful villain, Ronan, stating he would be back for “the woman”. I immediately thought of the serpent and Eve in the garden and how the enemy has targeted women as a point of entry since that moment. This may have been the most truth-filled line of the entire movie.
As I continued to contemplate various aspects of Carol Danvers’ character, the scenes depicting failures and perseverance throughout her life where she falls down and stands back up again reminded me of how we may stumble in our own journey of faith. However, we are not defeated. Grace allows us to stand back up and continue even after we stumble. The mistakes of our past serve as opportunities to grow and learn to better equip us to battle for God’s kingdom.
Remembering our past failures, ability to overcome, and learning from our trials is a major part of our sanctification process, just as it was in the symbolic tale of Carol Danvers. Her transformation story of Carol Danvers to Captain Marvel very much parallels our transformation story of mortal humans searching for our identity into spirit-filled children of God with the gift of eternal life.
When we equip ourselves with the Word of God, we walk forward confidently grounded in truth knowing we belong to the One True King.