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Unlimited Explorations: Captain Marvel's Cross-Disciplinary Connections



The movie Captain Marvel is giving your students a lot to talk about. Important issues such as gender roles, stereotypes, and discrimination are being discussed across college campuses. What you might not know is that a Cengage Unlimited subscription gives students a unique and powerful search tool to inform their opinions on these issues.  Since students have access to nearly all of Cengage titles, they can explore issues raised by the movie from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.


Captain Marvel is an excellent case in point. Students could research a topic like gender roles in a psychology or a sociology text. They could explore gender discrimination in one of our Law texts or the immigration debate in a politics or government title.


Here are a few connections to the movie (warning: if you haven't seen the movie there are some spoilers here):


Business Communication:


  • Marvel Studios found themselves in a social media storm when anonymous "reviewers" posted negative reviews on the popular movie review site Rotten Tomatoes. Imagine the meetings at Marvel when they had to decide how to handle this situation in as positive a way as possible. When you represent a large corporation how do you deal publicly with trolls?

Log in to your Cengage Unlimited account and put this ISBN in the search field: 9780357162101 (eBook for Business Communication: Process & Product by Guffey & Loewy).




  • An interesting point of view from the New York Times review: “The most sympathetic group of characters [the Skrulls] wants nothing more than to go somewhere else, to escape from the annihilating attention of their would-be conquerors. They might represent various oppressed and dispossessed earthly populations..."

Log in to your Cengage Unlimited account and put this ISBN in the search field: 9780357162101 (American Government and Politics Today by Ford, Bardes, Schmitt & Shelly).


Government & History


  • The Immigration Debate: the Skrulls, we find out, are "shape shifters".  The Kree fear that these shape shifters are infiltrating Kree by changing their shape so they can become part of the Kree culture.
  • This quote from Wired magazine suggests that there might be interesting connections between Captain Marvel and events from our recent past:


    [The Captain Marvel movie] presents the Skrulls as a refugee group being hounded across the galaxy by the military of a fascist hegemony, a Kree Empire that denies them their basic dignity...They can even, dangerously, be seen as stand-ins for immigrants or minorities; they are Other. - Captain Marvel Has a Very Important Message About Skrulls - Wired magazine

Log in to your Cengage Unlimited account and put this ISBN in the search field:  9780357364956 (Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People or 9780357391020 (American Government and Politics Today by Ford, Bardes, Schmitt & Shelly).





  • Would Captain Marvel have been as successful a movie (it's expected to make over a billion dollars by April, 2019), but would it have been as successful without a strategic marketing plan that started when Marvel decided to build a "universe" for all of its characters. Each preceding movie Marvel movie contains "post credits scenes" that set the audience up for the next movie in the universe. And characters from all these movies are brought together for the "Avengers" movies. Pretty smart long-range thinking on Marvel's part.


Log in to your Cengage Unlimited account and put this ISBN in the search field: 035739464X (eBook for Marketing 2020 by Pride & Ferrell).


Politics & Criminal Justice


  • Gender Discrimination: Carol/Vers mentions that she and her friend Maria Rambeau are both pilots but as women they were not allowed to fly an aircraft during combat missions (lifted in 1995).


Log in to your Cengage Unlimited account and put this ISBN in the search field: 9780357391020 (American Government and Politics Today by Ford, Bardes,Schmitt & Shelly) or 9780357163467 (Criminal Investigation by Hess, Orthmann & Cho).




  • Gender Roles: the fact that Captain Marvel is a woman caused quite an uproar when it was revealed last year. You might ask students why this is so. Our gender role for women is that they are supportive and social and not not unemotional and strong like typical male superheroes.
  • Gender Nonconformity: one of the first reactions to the trailers for the movie is that Brie Larsen's Captain Marvel "doesn't smile enough". Even one of the characters in the movie asks her for a smile. How often does this happen and how does it feel, as a woman to feel like smiling is something you're expected to do?
  • Stereotypes: the "good guys" are attractive. The bad guys are not. The "halo effect" not only explains why we think the "Kree" are a good people and the "Skrulls" are not - and it explains why (spoiler alert!) we are surprised when this turns out to be the other way around.
  • Role models: along with Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel is a new model for young girls. What effect do such models have on their development?

Log in to your Cengage Unlimited account and put this ISBN in the search field: 0357041100 (eBook for Psych by Rathus) or 9780357169407 (What is Psychology? Foundations, Applications, and Integration by Pastorino & Doyle-Portillo).


Sociology and Culture


  • Gender roles/Feminism: In the movie we are reminded that Captain Marvel/"Vers" is reminded frequently by her trainer (Jude Law) to "control her emotions". We find out later in the movie that one reason he says this is because he knows she has great power - and he's afraid of it and want to control it. What does this say about how men expect women to behave in our society?

Log in to your Cengage Unlimited account and put this ISBN in the search field: 035716749X (Sociology in Our Times by Kendall) or 1305656156 (Sociology: The Essentials by Anderson & Taylor).




  • One look at the ratings in IMDB for this movie and the controversy is obvious. We have a post in the WebAssign User's Group (Statistics Behind the Movies) that helps students understand central tendency and dispersion using these ratings.

Log in to your Cengage Unlimited account and put this ISBN in the search field: 9780357090060 (Statistics Companion: Support for Introductory Statistics).



Captain Marvel doesn't "smile enough"?Captain Marvel doesn't "smile enough"?

Photos credit: antdude3001


We talk about the importance of helping students make cross-disciplinary connections - now they have a tool to help them do just that.


Do you see any connections between your discipline and the Captain Marvel movie? Feel free to add your thoughts in the Comments section below.




Learn more about Cengage Unlimited.


Love it!  Since I am a USAFA grad and so is she, I CAN relate and feel so fortunate to have had amazing opportunities as a female early in my career!  I guess I'm one of the lucky ones who suffered no sexual harassment or assault...  wonder why that is?  Was it because I did not smile and look weak or did I just pretend to be one of the guys?!  If you ask my classmates, they say I smiled all the time, even during basic training!! 


I think Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel are wonderful role models and will help young girls believe they can do anything they set their minds to!


My classmate, Susan Grant, has been writing about female heroines for years:



Sandy: you're a USAFA grad? Very cool.  I took a look at your friend Susan's website. Wow - a commercial and an Air Force pilot for 30 years. Very impressive. One of her videos:




Yes, she's so cool..:)!


There is a duopoly of comic book movies: DC and Marvel.


Interesting!  Haven’t used this.  I was thrilled to find Questia in MindTap!


Interesting business communication application. 

Frequent Commenter

Anytime we can "Search" on a thing...obscure or not...helps me.  YAY!