Captain Marvel: Overcoming Control
As I write this, Captain Marvel is still in its opening week at the
box office, soaring higher, farther, and faster through the
history of superhero films. While I sat in theatres basking in the
soundtrack that was effectively my high school playlist, the
theme that stood out to me most throughout the film was
control. Specifically, I saw what control means, who we don’t
need to allow to have it, and what it means to truly master
control in every aspect of our lives. Early on, the movie comes
out swinging with some really powerful truths. They were so
early in the movie, I wasn’t prepared to take notes yet and had
to go back a second time to get the quotes. I didn’t mind.
One of the first scenes in the film is Marvel training with her
direct superior Yon-Rogg, portrayed by Jude Law. While he
would eventually prove not to be her true ally, that doesn’t
mean the wisdom he spoke was less valid. Sadly, some of the
best sources of truth in superhero stories, and even in life, can
come from the villains (look at Heath Ledger’s Joker).
As Marvel and Yon battle, she rehashes the dreams and visions
she has been having. Yon encourages her to let go of this
“You have to let go of the past. It's causing you doubt,
and doubt makes you vulnerable. Control it.”
Obviously, he was telling her to do these things because he
didn’t want her delving into the truth and actually finding that
he was responsible for much of the damage in her life, but he
wasn’t wrong. When we hold on to the past and let doubt rule
our lives, it really is hard to move forward with our lives.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” -
Living in the past is like walking down stairs while trying to look
over your shoulder. It makes forward motion highly unsure and
dangerous. Even if you do manage to take enough steps
forward, looking back is going to slow you down so much that
you might as well be standing still.
“And he did not do many miracles there because of their
lack of faith.” - Matthew 13:58
Doubting ourselves only hurts us, and when we are doubting
God, it’s like looking Him in the eye and saying, “I don’t really
think you can pull this off.” Jesus literally didn’t do many
miracles in his own hometown because of their doubt. Letting
doubt reside in our hearts is like a “Keep Out” sign for the
presence of God. That doesn’t mean we can’t have questions,
or doubts; that is healthy. What we shouldn’t do is let it
The past and doubt should never have control over us if we
want to truly live up to the potential of who God creates us to
Yon continues to train her mentally and physically as she
cracks a smile at his brooding seriousness. “Humor is a
distraction. Full of anger, anger only serves the enemy. Control
your impulses.” She then immediately fails at controlling her
impulses and blasts Yon across the room, which earns her a
fun metallic facial with the Supreme Intelligence.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down
while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a
foothold.” - Ephesians 4:26-27.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear that anger should never be in
control of us. Though it will inevitable happen, it should not be
the thing that controls us or defines us.
On the way to her digital guidance counselor, Yon continues
his mentoring with, “Stop using this (heart) and start using this
(brain). I want you to be the best version of yourself.” Later
when she is communicating with Yon from Earth, he further
emphasizes the point, “Do not let your emotions override your
judgement.” He continually points out that emotions can be
dangerous if we let them determine our actions. Again, I fully
realize this is the bad guy, being manipulative. I’m not ignoring
that, but still recognizing a solid truth.
Our emotions can change on a dime, for good or bad. Our level
of hunger, rest, and companionship can change our emotions,
and that’s not all. Music, jokes, smells, online reviews, traffic,
and anything really are all tied to how we feel. Our emotions
are not always steady or reliable, and they shouldn’t be
allowed to control us. God says through the prophet Jeremiah
that our hearts aren’t trustworthy, and that the emotions that
flow from them aren’t reliable.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?” - Jeremiah 17:9.
Anger and the rest of our emotional spectrum may be valid
feelings and need expression, but that doesn’t mean we need
to allow them to control us.
When Marvel finally meets up with the Supreme Intelligence,
the Intelligence hammers in further the narrative she had been
receiving from Yon.
“Supreme Intelligence: You struggle with your emotions.
With your past which fuels them.
Marvel: I want to serve.
Supreme Intelligence: Then master yourself.”
Again, I know they were the bad guys, but solid advice.
It also is very similar to a concept we see in scripture
“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person
who lacks self-control.” -Proverbs 25:28.
We see that until we can actually control ourselves, we are
wide open to any kinds of attacks and manipulation, very much
in the way that Marvel was being controlled and manipulated
by her Kree compatriots. They kept telling her to control
herself, when really, they just wanted her to stop resisting as
they controlled her. Self-Control is beyond value, though.
When you can control yourself (or master yourself, as the
Great Intelligence put it), you are like a city with impenetrable
walls. Self-Control is more than just being able to hold back
from negative emotions and feelings. Self-control is being able
to deliberately and intentionally control your thoughts, words,
and actions. It’s not just about what you prevent yourself from
doing. It’s about what you add to who you are.
In 2 Peter 1:5-8, we see what it looks like to truly “Master
Yourself,” as the Supreme Intelligence told Marvel.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your
faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to
knowledge, self-control; and to self-control,
perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to
godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection,
love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing
measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and
unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus
Peter paints this picture that if you intentionally build on who
you are and master yourself in your faith, you will be
guaranteed to grow and that your faith will be effective and
productive. But just as we stated earlier; if your past, your
doubts, your anger, and your emotions control you, you will
never be able to control yourself. Those negative elements
that battle you for control will prevent you from being all you
When Marvel was at the mercy of the Kree and the Supreme
Intelligence aboard Lawson’s lab, she finally saw that she had
been allowing these manipulative creatures to have control
over her the entire time. They had been not just holding her
back, but enslaving her. While the bad guys may have had
some solid ideas and teachings earlier in the chapter, this is
where the paths diverge. God wants you to have self-control,
not so that He can manipulate and control you, but so that you
can have true freedom. When Marvel finally broke free from
the Kree control on her, she was virtually unstoppable. As in,
she was taking down an elite squadron and smacking ballistic
warheads around like it’s nothing. She even flexed Ronan the
Accuser into skurting out of the fray.
She went from a restrained pew pew to Earth shattering
kabooms in no time flat. She always had that power and ability
inside her; it was just impossible for her to experience how
great her power was while she was under the control of the
Kree. We have this amazing power of God welled up deep
inside us through His spirit, but as long as we allow sin, fear,
doubt, unchecked emotions, and the pressures of this world to
control us, we will never be able to experience the amazing
power and freedom that comes from truly knowing God.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm,
then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a
yoke of slavery.” - Galatians 5:1.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather,
serve one another humbly in love.” - Galatians 5:13.
The Kree commanded Marvel to control herself so they could
continue to manipulate her. God calls us to control ourselves
so that we can truly be free to experience His power and
freedom and so that we will never have to know what it is like
to be under the control of sin again. Imagine what it would
have been like for Marvel to deal with the Kree on Lawson’s
lab, and then turn around and put the Kree control disc back
on her neck. To finally know her unlimited power but then turn
around and willingly allow her manipulators to once again
have control over her life would have been nonsensical. Yet
that is what we do every time we willingly allow this world, our
flesh, and our sin nature to reign over us after experiencing the
freedom of God. It’s not worth it. Take the time to learn and
exercise self-control in your own life so that nothing else can
In her conflict with the Kree, Marvel finally realizes how she’s
been manipulated and controlled for so long. She knows now
what it takes to be free, and she’s willing to do it. She asks the
question, “‘I’ve been fighting with one arm tied behind my
back, but what happens when I’m finally set free?” This is you.
This is me. This is us. We’ve spent years of our lives fighting
with one arm tied behind our backs. So, what happens when
you are finally set free?
Are you going to continue to let the things of this world
manipulate and control you? I hope not. I hope you are going
to fight against the toxic things that look to enslave you. I hope
you are going to learn to control yourself so that nothing else
can. I hope you are going to allow Christ to truly set you free so
that in His power you truly will be able to go higher, further,
and faster wherever He leads you.