How Captain Marvel and Stan Lee defend a more tolerant America

At the very beginning of the new “Captain Marvel” movie, there is a brief tribute to Stan Lee, co-creator of The Marvel Universe, who has captivated millions of fans in the comics and, more recently, in a movie juggernaut. of superheroes. .

The film opens with a montage of scenes from recent Marvel films, in which Lee – who died last November at the age of 95 – has always made an appearance. My young daughter and son, who were sitting next to me in a crowded movie theater in Oak Park this past weekend, were delighted to spot the aged creative genius in these fast-paced and often comedic scenes.


At the end of the tribute to Lee, the crowd cheered – an appreciation and cheer sent to heaven.

And then the movie continued, unfolding as another indelible addition to the Marvel canon, another milestone. For the first time in a Marvel superhero movie, the main hero was a woman – a former Air Force pilot, in fact. She was someone my 11 year old daughter could admire, even though my daughter never developed the ability to shoot photon blasts with her fists.

There have been some loud voices online, people who are annoyed that the main superhero is a woman and wonder if a woman can make a movie of this magnitude. The same loud voices opposed a black man last year as the leading superhero in the flagship film “Black Panther”.

The box office earnings for the opening weekend of “Captain Marvel,” however, signaled an overwhelming vote of approval. He raised $ 455 million, the sixth best start in the world of all time. “Black Panther”, an absolute blockbuster, has so far earned over $ 1.3 billion worldwide.

I wasn’t a big comic book reader when I was a kid, so I’m a relatively late one in the Marvel Universe. I have a lot of my three kids – and the great recent movies – to thank for that. Movies are always entertaining, exciting, smart and funny, with complicated and imperfect heroes and diverse actors. Whether it’s “Spider-Man” or “Ant Man” or “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Thor”, when my kids want to go see a Marvel movie, my wife and I are on board.

Films offer a message of tolerance and acceptance during difficult days. We live in a time of growing acrimony and division in our public sphere. Hate crimes are on the rise. Racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia – they all make the headlines almost every day.

As I sat with my kids at the theater last weekend, surrounded by hundreds of other kids, I couldn’t help but think about Stan Lee and his inclusive outlook.

“America is made up of different races and different religions,” said Lee. “But we are all co-travelers on spacecraft Earth and must respect and help each other along the way.”

When the lights came back on in the theater and we walked up the aisle, back into the real world, I could see that the crowd itself was surprisingly diverse, like America itself.

There are still forces of good in the universe, I thought. You could even say that there are superheroes.

John Biemer is a freelance writer at Oak Park.

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About Elizabeth J. Swartz

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