Djimon Hounsou has been on my mind in the last few days. Not because of his uniquely chiselled features. Or his usually unforgettable performances, notwithstanding that he is often cast as a villain.
I have been playing back his spat with his fellow soldiers as they prepared for a mission to ward off another Scrull attack, in the early part of the Captain Marvel movie. My children are fascinated by his line that “…I laugh, but on the inside…” but I can’t seem to get over his closing line in this dialogue:
Captain Marvel: Has a Skrull ever skimmed you?
Djimon Hounsou: Once… it was deeply disturbing.
Captain Marvel: Why?
Djimon Hounsou: Because I stared into the face of my mortal enemy and the face staring back was my own.
Why has the line captivated me so? Does it have anything to do with who we see when we look in the mirror? Or the owner of the shadow that follows us about when we see the light. Should we not begin to accept some responsibility for our actions, particularly those actions that involve other people, in which they played more prominent roles that led to unpleasant consequences?
All this he/she or they made me do it; it is their fault, and all the rest business, require some urgent review. It is true that the witch cried last night and the child died in the morning but the witch could have cried because it barged into an electric pole on its way back from a rendezvous with its colleagues, and the child could have died because it had been suffering from a terminal condition undetected by its parents. The witch could have cried and the child died but we now know that the cause and effect possibilities are almost limitless. The stars have long made their case that the fault is not found among their members.
Individuals, families, groups and nation-states with very debilitating and seemingly impossible conditions have turned the tide and shown the rest of humanity that redemption begins with the acceptance of responsibility. A man who claims his wife is the source of his misfortune must admit the fact that he has a poor sense of judgment and vice versa. A leader that complaints about the expectations of his people must admit the fact that in matters of unintended consequences, he has come really short.
Unfortunately, makers of Captain Marvel, did not pursue the trail that Djimon Hounsou opened with his poignant line. They wanted to portray the emergence of Brie Larson as a superhero and an Avenger.
But how might they have executed the key thrust of the movie and still pinned it on Djimon Hounsou’s line?