[SPOILERS] Captain Marvel has the Same Character Arc as Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell

Warning: Major Spoilers for both Captain Marvel and Ghost in the Shell. Read at your own risk. 


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Captain Marvel is a triumph, of the box office, of the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of Marvel Studios movies, of women's representation in pop culture, of sexist haters finding something new to yell about. I had a perfectly good time watching it, but the thought hit me, "Hang on, this has the same plot arc as the awful Hollywood version of Ghost in the Shell!"

In the movie, Carol Danvers discovers that the Kree empire she has fought for is not so noble after all and they've hidden her memories of her true identity from her so she can help them commit genocide against the Skrulls.

In Ghost in the Shell, superspy "The Major" discovers that the government she works for are really the bad guys who erased her memories of her true identity so she would work for them as their superspy.

When you boil it down, that same basic plot runs like this: Bad-ass hero(ine) with amnesia fights for the government and thinks they're the good guys, only to discover that they're the bad guys all along and they'd lied to him or her.

"The hero(ine) discovers everything they knew about themselves was a lie!" is a common plot trope in genre fiction. It seems to happen in nearly every Marvel and DC comic once every few months. It's slightly less frequent in movies because movies take longer to make and come out, so to notice that Captain Marvel and Ghost in the Shell both have it is because they're two major Science Fiction and superhero movies released recently.

Another thing that Captain Marvel and Ghost in the Shell have in common is that though both were adapted from comics, neither of the original comics had this storyline where the heroine had her memories erased so she could become a weapon. In the comics, the heroines are in fully control of their decisions when they volunteer to be a superhero or a spy.

The only difference is the script of Captain Marvel is good while Ghost in the Shell is rubbish.

In Captain Marvel, it makes sense for the Kree to erase Carol Danvers' memories and tell her she's one of them because she's a powerful weapon they want to use in their war.

In Ghost in the Shell, "The Major" discovers that she was a protestor against forced cybernetics, only be to forcibly turned into a cyborg and have her memories erased so she can work for the government. This is the most idiotic reason for turning her into a deadly cyborg I've ever heard. It makes no sense. In the police and military, there would be plenty of candidates happy to volunteer to get a weaponized cyborg body and server the state without having their memories erased and fake memories implanted so they would be obedient. In forcing "The Major" to become what she hated, the bad guys basically created the weapon that was going to come after them.

The plot is used as a theme in Captain Marvel to push the theme of a woman finding her own identity and agency, whereas in Ghost in the Shell, it was just there in order to have a plot. It was treated as pulp and treated like another cliché. It's all in how a plot is executed and you can tell which movie had more care in the writing of its script. Captain Marvel chose the same plot for a specific feminist purpose. The makers of Ghost in the Shell could have chosen from a wide range of stories involving cyberpunk, hacking, espionage, and geopolitics on top of its ongoing existential themes but instead opted for the plot that made the story as boring and uninteresting as possible.

I suppose no one has really talked about how bad the story was in Ghost in the Shell because everyone was hung up on the whitewashing issue… and not many people saw it. Ghost in the Shell was a box office bomb. Captain Marvel is not a bomb, despite the best efforts of trolls and bots.

 

 

About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.

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