How Captain Marvel Got Mary-Sued

How did blonde Hollywood actress Brie Larson end up getting cast as Captain Marvel?

And why do so many movie fans seem to hate her?

I hold no brief for or against Ms. Larson. I don’t know her. I’ve never seen her in a movie. I’ve only seen her in a couple of video interviews. She seemed rather unpleasant, which itself is a bit strange because an actress should be able to fake being nice even if she isn’t. Other videos by movie fans harshly criticize Larson, both as an actress and as a person.

The biggest complaint seems to be that Larson’s Captain Marvel is a “Mary Sue.” She can’t improve as a person because she’s already perfect. She can’t learn anything new because she already knows everything. People make the same complaint about the character of Rey in the recent “Star Wars” movies. I don’t know if they’re right, because I haven’t seen those movies. “Star Wars” is dead to me.

Criticizing Larson’s Captain Marvel is unfair in one way, but fair in another way.

It’s unfair because in the 1941 movie serial, the original Captain Marvel was a male Mary Sue. But there was a reason: even in the story, he wasn’t an actual person. That’s the fair part of the criticism. They’re both Mary Sue characters, but at least he has an excuse.

In the story, nerdy explorer Billy Batson was trapped in an ancient tomb. He encountered a spirit named “Shazam” who gave him the power to turn into Captain Marvel to fight evil.

But who was Captain Marvel? Like the character of Mongo in “Blazing Saddles,” Captain Marvel was less a “who” than a “what.” He was the embodiment of abilities from Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury: names whose first letters spell “Shazam:”

Of course, Larson didn’t write the character she plays, so she can’t be blamed for it. But she does seem to hate the kind of people who would normally go to superhero movies — i.e., boys and men. Assuming that theatres still exist when the next Marvel superhero movie comes out, that could be a problem. Hatred doesn’t sell tickets.

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.
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