Captain Marvel: The Story of Israel and Palestine

Ryan Lau | @RyanLau71R

In Captain Marvel’s first few weeks at the box office, it has performed incredibly well, grossing over $800 million worldwide. Generally, the reviews from the critics reflect its success, but some YouTube channels disagree. Criticizing the movie for its feminist motives, some believed that a radical agenda was ruining Marvel’s movie. In reality, it had more to do with Israel and Palestine.

Exaggerations and misconceptions surround a grain of truth with these reviews. In this case, there are admittedly some clear political parallels in the film. But whether intended or not, they have nothing to do with feminism. Yes, the movie stars Carol Danvers, a feminist woman, and yes, she overcomes a past of often not being good enough. (Or, at least, others thinking that she wasn’t). Actual instances of gender discrimination, though, are few and far between. As the movie takes place in the 1990s, it isn’t unrealistic to portray them in the limited notion that writers did. So, if not feminism (as many movie supporters and detractors alike believe), then what about the movie is political?

Watching the film, it was a pretty obvious hit, at least from my perspective. The constant hunting and forced relocation. An ethnostate massacring innocent civilians in an effort to expand influence after facing discrimination of their own in the past. The movie contains clear parallels, of course, to the ongoing battle in Israel and Palestine.

The Kree and the Skrulls as Israel and Palestine

Without a doubt, the Kree show a number of similarities to the ethnic apartheid state of Israel. This is true in terms of both demographics and actions. The Kree people are split into two distinct types: pink and blue. The latter of these is, according to Captain Marvel comics, more ethnically pure and has a history of racism against the pink Kree. This, of course, represents fairly clearly the history of intra-Jewish racism.

For centuries, many people in Israeli society have looked down on non-Ashkenazi Jews, especially those of African and Middle Eastern origin; one only needs to look back to the 2010 Ethiopian birth control scandal as evidence. Basically, Israel was disproportionately supplying Depo-Provera, a very long-lasting contraceptive, to black Jews. Specifically, Ethiopian Jews received 60% of Depo-Provera prescriptions despite making up only 1% of Israel’s population. The Kree have similar racist breeding policies. Despite the apparent normalization of inter-species breeding in the MCU, the Kree strictly criminalize it for ethnic purity.

The Skrulls, on the other hand, fairly closely resemble Palestine. Notable character Talos does an excellent job at expressing his own similarities to a Palestinian. He was an oppressed person, on a home facing constant invasion and slaughter. His own land is in ruins, not unlike the Gaza Strip.

Moreover, he and his people are under constant threat of murder from a militarily superior race with no repercussions. Just as the Kree slaughtered Skrull civilians early in the movie without punishment, so too can Israeli soldiers slaughter Palestinian civilians legally. Talos, though, is sure to note that he is far from innocent. Just like Palestinian fighters, he declares that “this is war. My hands are filthy from it too.” Surely, this represents Israel and Palestine. Both are deeply flawed, but the former is clearly on the offensive.

A Search for a New Home

The political tones of Captain Marvel are also apparent in the structures and goals of the Kree and Skrull societies. The Kree are a highly militant society that emphasizes service to the nation. This is quite similar to Israel, where military service is mandatory for Jews and quasi-mandatory for Arabs (many employers require service as a prerequisite to getting a job).

The Skrulls, on the other hand, live a much more decentralized life. Both they and Palestine appear to be less militant than their opponents. Furthermore, their quality of life is much lower. The advanced societies of Israel and the Kree far outpace the ruins of Palestine and Skrull settlements.

But the greatest parallel comes from the war going on between them. Throughout the film, the Kree are searching for a light-speed engine to use against the Skrulls. Their ultimate goal appears to be to have superior firepower. Likewise, Israel has gone to great measures to achieve their own military superiority. After all, they have even developed (and refused to declare) nuclear bombs.

Meanwhile, the Skrulls have no desire to use the same light-speed engine as a weapon. Instead, they plan to flee so far away that the Kree cannot find them again. Like Palestine, they have committed many wartime atrocities. Nonetheless, they are clearly not on the offensive.

A Long-Standing Land Grab

The desire to avoid further losses that Skrulls and Palestinians alike cling to stems back to a massive takeover of their land. As Captain Marvel made obvious, the war between the Kree and the Skrulls led to the Kree decimating an entire Skrull planet. As a result, bands of stragglers fought to survive. But even there, they were under constant threat of murder.

Similarly, Palestine has had to suffer great losses of land. And still, they face legal murder at the hands of Israeli soldiers quite frequently.

Israel and Palestine land distribution, 1946-2010
Israel and Palestine land distribution, 1946-2010

As the maps clearly show, Israel has taken similar action against Palestine since 1947 as the Kree took against the Skrulls. In the 2010 map, the light gray represents the lines from the 1947 UN plan. Since then, Israel has taken control of all of that, leaving Palestine in ruins with nothing but small zones of territory. Moreover, there is no sign of an end to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, just like the Kree and Skrulls. In both cases, without an ending force, the superior military will end up with everything.

Captain Marvel does an excellent job paralleling this conflict, but few people have caught on. Worse still, as states ban anti-Israel boycotts and Congress defends a military empire against Ilhan Omar, they only further resemble the Kree, who brainwashed Carol Danvers into thinking she was one of them. Like the Kree, Israel has a positive connotation, but only when looking through the lens of a single story. When examining both sides, it appears that the oppressed are the oppressors after all.

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