It's no news that the Marvel movie franchise is trying their hand at endorsing strong female superheroes. The most famous examples may be the scene in Avengers: Infinity War where Okoye and Black Widow jump to help Scarlet Witch and that scene in Avengers: Endgame that had the subtlety of a 10.0 earthquake.
The Russo Brothers, and Marvel at large it seems, are at a loss for striking the perfect balance with strong female representation in their movies. It's either they are reserved for being sidekicks, much like Scarlett Witch and Black Widow, or they are bitterly over-saturated like the scene in Endgame. However, Captain Marvel, Marvel's first female-led superhero movie, hits the nail on the head by giving the theatre audience a likeable, confident and unforgettable female superhero.
To give that statement a little context, it's definitely worth examining Marvel's other female superheroes.
Let's start with the first lady of Marvel herself, Black Widow:
While her debut in Iron Man 2 was memorable and well-done, the best manifestation of the character was undoubtedly her role in the first Avengers movie. There she displayed courage, intelligence, and strength, and despite not having any superpowers, proved her worth to the team with many applause-worthy scenes. This performance was doubled-down by her stellar performance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier where relevant questions of Natasha's integrity were constantly played with. While she was reserved as a co-star, the movie certainly did not make it feel like it, as the motifs concerning trust and allegiance constantly and clearly served to interrogate the very core of Natasha's character. Under that pressure, she was reborn as a much more resilient character. Sadly, this was short lived.
Age Of Ultron began the miswriting of Natasha Romanoff. Her romance with Bruce Banner was sudden and awkward with absolutely no pay-off, and her character finally fell prey to a dynamic much too common among female superheroes: being a hapless damsel in distress. Also, the poor attempt at the dualism between the Natasha and Bruce Banner, being that Banner is a monster because of the Hulk and Natasha is a similar monster because she cannot give birth, perpetuates a long-lasting ideology that infertile women are somehow unnatural and less than. To insinuate that her inability to become pregnant makes her anything like the uncontrollable and destructive hulk is so problematic to even consider. How that idea left a writer's room today is mind-boggling. It was simply a poor attempt at identifying weakness in order to humanize an already human character.
Finally, in Endgame the Russo Brother's sealed her fate. Natasha Romanoff's death was brushed aside like a meaningless sub-plot. No funeral, approximately one tear from her best friend, Captain America, and a few seconds of mild irritation. After the events of Winter Soldier, Natasha was no longer a spy, she was a soldier, a hero and a friend, so to bury her as the former not only depletes all her character growth but is a hard back-hand to the character.
The arguments for the other Marvel women are a lot easier to make.
Scarlet Witch since her inception was always a damsel in distress and needed a man to lend her some of his confidence, because she never had any of her own. Despite her incredible powers, Scarlett Witch as a character was always insurmountably weak and never able to make any difficult decisions on her own; always following the lead of a man. This trend was only briefly paused when Okoye and Black Widow saved her in Infinity War and she finally stepped up to the plate to take on Thanos head-on in Endgame.
Gamora, though claimed by Thanos to be the best Assassin in the galaxy, barely has any incredible feats to her name. This is particularly interesting because the other children of Thanos, namely the Black Order, were clearly powerful. This begs the question: "Was Gamora's true strength was only downplayed so she would not overshadow Peter Quill, the true star of her movies?" Moreover, all of Gamora's emotional progress was made null and void by bringing back the 2014 version of her to replace the current deceased Gamora. Cheap.
Nebula was always a failure.
Valkyrie is a solid character but with a lot of untapped potential.
The Wasp suffers severely from a disequilibrium. Marvel makes her smart and strong, but she has little to no character. This would work in her dynamic with Ant-Man if Ant-Man wasn't smart or strong. But he has a strong character, and some of the most impressive feats in the Cinematic Universe, leaving the Wasp feeling lopsided, irrelevant and forgettable.
The only other properly developed character is Okoye. The Black Panther movie was perhaps the best female representation the Marvel Cinematic Universe had seen, and Okoye stood as a pinnacle of such. Not only was she smart, and powerful but she defied stereotypes by leading the most respectable army in her country and doing it well. Furthermore, she put to rest the notion that a woman should always to be the emotionally weaker one in a relationship (*cough* Scarlet Witch and Vision *cough*) by holding her spear to the throat of her husband. Patriotic, Confident and most of all, heroic.
However, with the fairly new Captain Marvel movie, the crown has been dutifully handed over to Carol Danvers herself. While her movie had a few hiccups, the character herself was dealt with beautifully giving her that classic Marvel wit, admirable eagerness and a penchant for making mistakes, the Marvel formula for a likeable superhero. But what truly serves to elevate her character is the extent of her power. With the exception of Scarlet Witch, Captain Marvel is the only female character that is given powers and strength that is not only top tier in the cinematic universe but is also awe-worthy.
Men like Thor, Doctor Strange and Iron Man always lead the fights and are always given the strongest powers, the most appeal and the best moments in fight scenes. But with Captain Marvel's introduction, finally a female with the same (or maybe more) incredible power can now also lead the fight. Sure, her arrogance and stubbornness make her a tough pill to swallow, but that's the point. She's tough, unapologetic and wants to get the job done no matter what.
In conclusion, Captain Marvel is a tribute to the females that feel overwhelmed in a male-dominated space and do not choose to use their sexuality to get ahead (like a Black Widow) or have any inherent skills and talents (like Gamora). It teaches them that through genuine hard work and dedication they too can stand next to, or above, a man. Men might not get that, but every woman will. And Marvel seems to finally understand that.