Wednesday, April 17, 2019

About the amnesia in Marvel's "Captain Marvel" (Carol Danvers) movie (Part 3 of 4 about the movie)

Having covered the plot of the film and many of its references, symbolisms, and messages, it's time to address just a some specific issues in and about the film.

The Amnesia Thing
From the very beginning of this movie, Vers/Carol Danvers has a memory problem. She cannot remember anything before she was rescued by the Kree from a crash site a few years ago. Overcoming that amnesia was a key plot point, and a motivating factor in her actions the closer she got to her past.

In the comics, Carol Danvers actually had quite a bit of experience with memory failure, so making amnesia a key characteristic of her character in the movie is not completely out of...character.

The Carol/Ms. Marvel Split Personality
The first time she had memory issues was right when Ms. Marvel first appeared in 1977 (Ms. Marvel #1). Here came this new superhero, beating up bank robbers and throwing cars around, but she had no memory of her past or who she was. Then Carol Danvers showed up at the offices of the Daily bugle to start work as the new Editor-in-Chief of Woman magazine. But then at some point she would pass out, and the next thing you knew, Ms. Marvel was beating up the Scorpion or some other super villain was throwing her around by her scarf while she was having existential discussions with that villain about her identity.

It turned out that Carol Danvers had developed a split personality. This was supposed to represent the dichotomy of the female/feminist experience, ad the Modern woman tried to reconcile the desire for equality with the female identity.

But having a super-powerful, schizophrenic, feminist superhero did not go over too well. The letters pages showed a lot of sentiment against this concept. So writer Gerry Conway, despite crediting his wife with a lot of assistance, was replaced by Chris Claremont, who guided the stories to a reconciliation and unification of the two personalities before even the belly cut-out on her costume was patched over (I mean, a feminist icon with her belly button showing? Really?)

There is, then a parallel (if tenuous) between Carol Danvers getting super powers and losing her memory. When she was a Kree hero, "Vers" had no memory of a past life as an Earthling, just like how Ms. Marvel, a product of Kree science and DNA, had no memory of her Earthling self. I wonder if that is where the writers got the idea? I have to track them down and find out.

Rogue
The second time she lost her memory was was when she ran into the mutant Rogue. This was before the character became an X-Man and the action originally happened off-camera (it was later drawn up and seen in a quarterly anthology book and the Ms. Marvel Essential Edition and Mrvel Masterworks Ms. Marvel #2).


Rogue's mutant ability was to absorb people's memories and super powers by physical contact. The trouble is, if she holds the contact too long, the transfer becomes permanent. That's what happened here. This is why in the comics, Rogue can fly, is super-strong, invulnerable, etc.

But this left Carol in a powerless, infantile state. She was rescued by Spider-Woman, who then took her to Professor X (founder of the X-Men) who helped her rebuild her memories. She stayed with the X-Men for a time, joining them in an adventure in outer space, in the course of which, new powers literally exploded out of her.

These powers were drawn from the energy of a "white hole," (a theoretical but thus far undiscovered cosmic thing that is in some way the opposite of a black hole) giving here the ability to use and focus the energy of a star, including space flight and photon blasts. This was much like what we see from Carol Danvers at the climactic space-battle scene in this movie.

These powers were released as a result of experiments done on her by an alien race called the Brood, followed by a moment of extreme physical stress, and thus there is a connection to the movie. We don't know how much was actually done to Carol Danvers when she was picked up by the Kree, but she does have an inhibitor device on her neck and she is told to keep things under control. It is when she gets rid of the inhibitor and is plummeting to the Earth that her full power potential is finally awakened.

The Psyche-Magnitron Tumor
As we should all know by now, the original source of Carol's super powers was Kree DNA m passed from Mar-Vell to her when he tried to protect her from the radiation of an exploding Kree machine known as a psyche-magnitron (this origin story has been retcon-tweaked to add the fact that her mother was Kree, but that was not published until the eve of the movie's release, sand is irrelevant to this point).

Before production started for the movie, there was a storyline in the Captain Marvel comic book in which it was discovered that there was a fragment of the machine in her brain, creating a tumor that grew as she used her powers. Unfortunately, villains from her past kept popping up, forcing her to use her powers more often. It turned out that this was a plot by Yon-Rogg, Mar-Vell's old rival in the Kree military, who had been disgraced and defeated by Mar-Vel in the incident that led to the aforementioned explosion.

In the climax of the story, Captain Marvel saved the day by flying up to stop a Kree city from landing on New York. The effort she expended caused the tumor to rupture, damaging the memory centers of her brain. This gave her complete amnesia again.

By this time, Carol Danvers had gained the friendship of Kit Renner, the daughter of her neighbor, who had the nickname of "Lieutenant Trouble." She helped her gain back her memories by sharing with her the story of her life, which she had written and drawn into a book herself.

In the Captain Marvel movie, "Lieutenant Trouble" was Monica Rambeau, the young daughter of Maria "Photon" Rambeau, Carol Danver's best friend and fellow fighter pilot. She had been very close with Carol before the event in which she lost her memory and was taken in by the Kree, and helped her in accomplishing the mission she set for herself to climax the movie. this is consistent with the relationship between Carol and "Lt. Trouble" in the comics.



Coming soon:
Thoughts on the character of MAr-Vell in the Comics and the movie, and about the female and feminist issues.
ALSO: we will resume our Blog History of the many Captain Marvels with SHAZAM! The New Beginning!

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