The Overpowered Protagonist: Captain Marvel & Black Panther

In case you may be living under a rock, Captain Marvel has hit theaters and the reception has been polarizing, to say the least. Some fans adore it, others hate it. While trolls sit in the corner and do their thing, there is no question that Captain Marvel has been killing it in the box office. Making $153,433,423 opening and no close to the magical $1 billion mark.

You could say it is doing well.

Avengers: Endgame comes to theaters next month leaving this movie with a ton of pressure. It reminded me of last year when Black Panther came out two months before Infinity War. While watching Captain Marvel, I couldn’t help but see similarities between Captain Marvel and Black Panther. They both struggle with something very crucial.

Both films have an overpowered protagonist problem.

black-panther-and-captain-marvel

An overpowered protagonist is fine for movie development. We have seen it many times and with many different adaptations. Like Superman, Goku, or even Dr. Manhattan, the major heroes have a weakness or somebody strong enough that can hold them down.

In Superman’s case, it was Kryptonite. Goku’s was Vegetta and company. Dr. Manhtattan’s was mainly society as a whole and the Watchmen. For Captain Marvel? What was hers? You could also make the same argument for Black Panther in his solo movie.

When you make a character insanely overpowered, there’s no emotional weight or stakes. When the protagonist of the film is vulnerable, you feel for them because their pain and weakness is more intense.

For example, Logan was extremely vulnerable and almost powerless in the film. Which made it more suspenseful and added a layer of emotional weight to the story. Logan was getting older and his powers were disintegrating. It plays a key role in why Logan is generally praised as one of the best comic book movies of all time.

Human-like threats are always more emotional investing than world-ending and mystical threats. Because as the audience, you know there’s so much a human can withstand. For example, in Suicide Squad one of the biggest gripes was the villain and how Enchantress felt so unrealistic/comical to the point where it took fans out of the film. It’s hard to watch when your favorite characters get thrown around the whole movie and don’t feel the brunt of what’s happening (talking to you, Captain Marvel). At least, show the character in pain or something so the audience knows their limits.

Is there a difference…really?

marvel panther

In Captain Marvel, people get pushed around and get back up with no problem. No one seems to get hurt. Namely Carol Danvers. She strolls her way through every obstacle. It takes so many stakes out of the film. I understand that’s her character and how she operates, but there should at least be limits to what she can fight off.

Now for Black Panther’s case, the sole reason why his character is overpowered in his solo movie relies on the suit. The suit that Black Panther is introduced by Shuri within the midway point of the first act is overpowered. Even before this Black Panther was seen fighting criminals, no damage was brought to him. Bullets just ricochet off him and punches were like marshmallows thrown at him. Black Panther’s suit of nanotechnology absorbs kinetic energy and ends up taking away a lot of emotional value to the film.

Yes, the technology is great and it shows for some cool aesthetics and CGI. But the suit itself is just so powerful. When I see Black Panther being shot by bullets and rockets, and still gets up without a scratch. C’mon man. There’s no shock that one of the best scenes in the movie with T’Challa was without the suit. Both characters were vulnerable and the fight was equal.

Once Infinity War was released in theaters two months later, Black Panther was powered down and I’m pretty sure Marvel Studios will do the same for Captain Marvel. At least, I hope, because fans would not be too happy if Captain Marvel (who was just introduced into the MCU) strolls in overpowered in Avengers: Endgame and defeats Thanos.

Both Captain Marvel and Black Panther have many issues wrong with them. There are many things right as well. Even though this is a movie of fantasy, there still needs to be something missing from both of these films and their lead characters — reality.

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