Is the ‘Captain Marvel’ Effect Taking the Air Force by Storm?

Captain Marvel hit theaters in 2019, preceding Avengers: Endgame and opening the door for a substantial Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) role featuring Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers, the movie opened to box office success, strong critical and audience reception, and it will receive a sequel down the line. 

Captain Marvel
‘Captain Marvel’ | GP Images/Getty Images for Disney Studios

In Captain Marvel, the lead character boasts a pre-superhero life as an Air Force pilot, which the military used to its benefit. The Air Force launched a campaign aimed at recruiting more women, hoping the female piloting the plane in Captain Marvel would inspire other women to join the Air Force. Seeing diversity in fields often deemed out of reach for certain individuals tends to inspire others to take a leap of faith. So, how well did this work and what happened? 

‘Captain Marvel’ may have inspired women to join the Air Force 

According to Military.com, the Air Force “placed pre-show ads in more than 3,600 theaters nationwide, bought space at geek hubs such as Fandom.com, and hosted its own press events with Larsen [sic], as well as a Red Carpet screening in Washington, D.C.” 

The Air Force’s attempt to use Captain Marvel’s widespread recognition to up excitement for the military service branch — and one of three sectors constituting the Department of Defense — was a successful venture. 

With various social media content promoted and vast messages spread across the internet related to the Air Force, people far and wide watched and shared the content. With over 11 million views for the video “Origin Story” — a quick commercial coinciding with Captain Marvel’s release — you can say that the Air Force piqued curiosity. However, did all the campaigning on the back of Captain Marvel help with recruitment?

Let’s talk the Air Force Academy’s Class of 2023  

As Military.com notes, the Air Force Academy’s Class of 2023 will have the highest proportion of females in the last five years, at 31.2%. The class of 2019 was 73.5% male and 26.5% female with 913 men and 329 women. While the class of 2020, 2021, and 2022 will all see modest bumps in female graduates, the class of 2023 tops the list at 31.2.% 

While military.com notes that Captain Marvel’s release did not lead to a huge increase in female applicants, as the military branch has been aiming to diversify its cadet population for years, the movie’s release did inspire more visits to the military service’s career website during a time when the Air Force was already pushing to inspire young women to join. Col. Jeannie Leavitt — the first female fighter pilot — explained why the effects of Captain Marvel may be a bit delayed:

…I think it’s going to be one of those things that is going to take some time to show, kind of the return on investment,” she said. “Because a lot of these people being inspired are kind of high school, college age, where we might not see that for a little while later…

Military.com 

Here’s to hoping Captain Marvel continues to inspire women who dream of joining the military.