By Sydney Turner
I’ve always loved superhero movies. Even back when no one who looked like me was in them, however, it was alienating to love those movies that didn’t seem to care if I loved them or not since they couldn’t be bothered to cast someone who looks like me. So after a while, I stopped watching. Then in 2018, a 30-second trailer for Black Panther dropped, and I struggled to watch anything else. I had never been so excited in my life to see a movie. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) was so cool; the story was so exciting, developed, well thought out, and he was Black. Just like that, superhero movies had me again, and once again, I was in love. I never thought I’d see a Black Marvel superhero on the big screen, let alone one as cool as the Black Panther.
But it didn’t stop there. Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse came out, Captain Marvel came out, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey came out, and they were all so amazing. I loved it all; I loved Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) goofily learning how to be spider-man while bidding “Adios” to villains, I loved Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) being so unapologetically badass in a way women are not allowed to be, I loved Harley Quinn’s (Margot Robbie) quirky post-breakup story and her strong girl group of questionable antiheroes. Despite loving these characters and their stories so much, I was not satisfied; I wanted more. I now saw what was possible, and I wanted it all. As I often do as a Black woman, I didn’t realize what I was missing until I saw Monica Rambeau’s (Teyonah Parris) iconic superhero landing in WandaVision—confirming that a Black woman is now a marvel superhero and possibly (crossing my fingers) even the strongest avenger. Those other movies are so amazing and essential to so many, including me. Still, neither of those movies told me that a Black woman could be a superhero on the big screen, which is ridiculous because it’s Black women if there’s anyone who is a superhero. Watching Monica Rambeau in WandaVision, I automatically rooted for her from the beginning. And it’s not just because there is now a visibly Black woman avenger who wears her hair naturally, although that’s a factor because of everything Monica is.
MCU fans first met Monica in Captain Marvel as Maria Rambeau’s (Lashana Lynch), Carol Danvers’ best friend, daughter, and I was immediately a fan of this outspoken little Black girl who just wanted to be like her mom. Fast forward to Wandavision, and we meet the woman that outspoken little girl grew up to be. Monica followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a S.W.O.R.D agent and worked directly under her mother, who founded the organization. Monica had to watch her mom suffer from cancer, and then within seconds (because of Thanos’ snap), her mom has been dead for three years. Then, as if that’s not enough pain for one lifetime, she is sucked into and later thrown out of the Westview hex. She goes through so much pain, and yet she is so strong, not despite but because of those struggles. Her feelings of grief about losing her mom so terribly help her empathize with Wanda and ultimately save the citizens of Westview. Monica is so much more than just a superhero; she’s human. She flinches in response to a mention of Carol Danvers and grieves heavily about her mom’s death. She makes jokes about Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) and the hex with Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings). She is an excellent example that although Black women are often superheroes, that is not all we are; we are also human and deserve to be given grace. Monica is stubborn, scared, impulsive, but also brilliant, brave, and empathic. Her story is her own, and thanks to one of the post-credit scenes for Wandavision, we know we will once again see her in Captain Marvel 2. Black women and girls will get to watch a Black woman superhero on-screen after being ignored for so long. We will get to follow her journey and relate to her in ways we may not have been able to with other heroes. Everyone deserves the chance to see themselves on screen, and with Monica Rambeau, Black women finally get to do so, and I, for one, could not be more excited.
Sydney Turner is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. Sydney believes in the power of Black women of every background and is invested in bringing attention to our unique perspective on important topics. You can follow Sydney on instagram @syd_pie11.