If you look back through the things I've written, you'll come across a piece about the message of the dangers of pollution in the DC Comics movie "Aquaman." After writing that, I realized that it's common in so many other huge box office movies. Writers and directors are constantly using situations in their films as metaphors for some of the terrible things happening all over the world.
The newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Captain Marvel," is no exception.
Warning: Spoilers ahead
In "Captain Marvel" the main antagonists are the Skrulls, an alien race of shapeshifters and the universally-agreed-upon bad guys. In fact, it's been known for decades throughout the Marvel comics that the Skrulls are dangerous. They're deceitful. They can't be trusted.
The first two-thirds of the movie is set up to show you just that. To show the audience that the Skrulls are, without a doubt, the enemies. It also makes it known that the Kree, the opposing alien race, are the good guys, trying to stop the Skrulls from wiping out the planet.
And so most of the movie is set upon those assumptions, the same way we as people tend to stereotype entire groups or races. In the same way that most people have an "assume first, ask questions never" kind of philosophy, the Kree allows no second-guessing of the intention of the Skrulls. In fact, anyone asking questions or poking around is usually killed.
But towards the end of the movie, the Skrulls become something else entirely. When Captain Marvel herself, Carol Danvers, allows one of the Skrulls to explain himself it's revealed that they're just people. They're just beings, a misunderstood race, never given a chance to defend or prove themselves.
The audience, the characters in the movies, and even Captain Marvel were manipulated into seeing the Skrulls only as what they had been stereotyped to be. Every action had an alternate explanation, but it was never seen because we were given only one lens through which to view the Skrulls, making them the bad guys. Never once does anyone think that the Skrulls are anything less than monsters, because of decades of lies perpetuated by the Kree.
The end of the movie shows the Skrulls for what they really are. A group of refugees, displaced from their home and just trying to survive. Trying to provide a better home, a better life, for their families. As the movie approaches the final battle scene the audience is suddenly seeing things through the eyes of the Skrull as a species. Humanizing them, turning them into a group that you're rooting for, instead of against.
Any of this sound familiar in issues we're dealing with right here in our own country?
Immigration is a controversial issue, and normally one that is seen in either black or white, never any grey areas. Most people are either for or against immigration. Either supportive of immigrants finding a home here, or vehemently opposed to it.
The way people view immigrants and refugees, especially in today's political climate, is no different than the way the Skrulls are seen throughout the first two-thirds of "Captain Marvel." Many people have a tendency to adopt the assumptions and stereotypes associated with immigrants. They live their lives believing these assumptions and never second-guessing those beliefs. Never attempting to see things from a different point of view.
There is an immigration and refugee crisis. It's real. It's happening right here. And it's a problem worldwide. We are so set in our ways, that we look at anyone whose appearance is remotely different from ours or anyone who comes from somewhere different, and we immediately fall into those assumptions and beliefs that they are the enemy. That they aren't to be trusted. That they have an agenda and are working against us.
When we do this, we're no better than the Kree. Keeping up decades of lies about another race and setting them up to be seen as the bad guys.
We have a chance to work cooperatively with immigrants and refugees. A chance to understand things from their point of view. A chance to see that, like the Skrulls, they are just trying to survive. To find a new home. To provide a better life for their families.
In "Captain Marvel" the Skrulls do some questionable things in their fight to try and get the help of Captain Marvel. They make some questionable decisions trying to find a home. They do this for survival, and because no one would let them get close enough to explain themselves if they hadn't. This, to me, can be equated to immigrants crossing the border illegally. Is it right? No. But is it somewhat understandable given the conditions they're fleeing and the absurd process of obtaining a legal status? In my opinion, yes.
The Skrulls did what they did to protect themselves, their race, and their families. To get people to see that they weren't the villainous, hateful enemies they were made out to be. Immigration is no different. But we're so set in those assumptions and stereotypes that we leave no room for alternate explanations. And, if "Captain Marvel" is any example, maybe it's time that we start looking at the issue differently.