Why women are crying at this moment in the Captain Marvel trailer

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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It’s only four seconds of footage, but it’s guaranteed to move you…

It’s a tiny little slice of footage, barely more than four seconds long, tacked right at the end of the shiny new trailer for Captain Marvel.

We’ve already spent the last minute or so of the video meeting Marvel’s kickarse new female superhero Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), the fighter pilot slash alien soldier and a youthful, full-haired Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who still has both of his eyes. The trailer is marinated in ‘90s nostalgia. There are pagers! There are baseball caps! There’s a suspiciously young-looking Jude Law!

Then, just 15 seconds before the video fades to black there’s a four second transition, showing a young Carol clad in a Gymboree-bright leotard and denim shorts – the universal uniform of eight-year-olds in the ‘80s – fading into an image of teenage Carol, hair-slicked back at pilot school, before ending on a single shot of superhero Carol, clad in her Captain Marvel uniform.

Four seconds. Just four seconds of footage that shows each iteration of this superwoman – young girl, young woman, fully-fledged hero – clenching her fists, gritting her teeth, and rising to whatever challenge is in front of her.

The trailer ends on a tantalisingly short clip of Captain Marvel suited up, eyes a-glow, vanquishing some poor foe in her way. “Discover what makes her,” the trailer exhorts, “a hero.” (All italics are this author’s enthusiastic, breathless own.)

Did you hear that sound? The sound of women all around the world simultaneously bursting into tears? Because that’s what is happening as women watch the trailer for the movie, due to release in cinemas on International Women’s Day, 2019, for the first time.

It might only be four seconds of footage but it’s a moment that reinforces the inherent strength of women and girls. The inherent strength of superheroes, too, sure, but more importantly the power of little girls like young Carol Danvers to stand up for themselves.

It’s as empowering as the fight scenes in Wonder Woman were, moments of footage that underlined the ability of women. Moments that, incidentally, also made people in the audience of that film spontaneously burst into tears.

It might only be four seconds of footage, but it’s a moment that will empower a new generation forever.

Judging by that short clip – four seconds, remember? – I reckon that young Carol Danvers is about eight or nine-years-old in the scene.

It feels like that age choice is significant. Girls’ self esteem and self-confidence peaks at the age of eight before taking a nose dive off a proverbial cliff once they enter puberty. Over the ages of eight to 14 a young girls’ confidence and empowerment drops by 30%.

When girls hit the lowest point of their self esteem, teenage boys are still 27% more self-assured than them, according to a TIME magazine and Ypulse study. Another study from Princeton University unearthed even more disheartening statistics: that a girl’s faith in her own strength and abilities is lost at the age of six.

Psychologists have despaired for years over this confidence gap. Despite the fact that young girls are more emotionally intelligent, more empathetic and more observant than young boys, they still lag behind when it comes to self-confidence.

Why is this? It could be something as simple as the way girls are marketed and spoken to by society and the media.

The Fawcett Society, an advocacy group pushing for pay parity, suggests that it might all stem from the fact that from an early age boys see themselves represented as superheroes, while girls see themselves represented as princesses.

“This is a massive issue and it is holding us all, but particularly girls, back,” Sam Smethers, The Fawcett Society’s chief executive, told the BBC. “Our research found that young women experienced gender stereotypes at school and from an early age.”

It’s only four seconds long, but just imagine the potential impact of the scenes in the Captain Marvel trailer depicting a strong, empowered young girl standing up for herself.

It’s only four seconds long, but just imagine how you would have felt as a young girl, seeing someone like you succeed onscreen. Seeing yourself as a superhero.

It’s only four seconds long in the trailer. But just imagine how much more footage we’re going to get of moments like this in the full, glorious, spine-tingling Captain Marvel movie next year. And just imagine how many women are going to cry in the cinema when they see those scenes. I’ll be one of them. Will you?

Captain Marvel will be released on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2019.

Images:  Chuck Zlotnick/© Marvel Studios 2019