Honoring the Heroine: Captain Amelia

This month, I have decided to talk about great heroines from the sci-fi genre – more or less. It is a genre, which is particularly hard to define. In it’s basics, it is about imagining how science might develop in the future, and how it might impact society. But in reality, people tend to throw more or less every story which is set either in the future or in space into the genre.

Take “Treasure Planet”, for example. It is set in space, but it is not about science, it is not even really set in the future, but in some sort of alternative universe in which it is apparently possible the breath in space. But for more detailed thought about the setting of this movie, I refer to this article. Today, let’s talk about Captain Amelia.

Now, I tend to be very suspicious of gender-swapping when it comes to adaptations. Usually a character has a specific gender for a reason, and it is rare that changing it adds anything to the story – most of the time it is just the attempt of the writers to meet some quota instead of a serious take on a layered female character. This is one of the few examples in which it really works, though.

Captain Amelia is the replacement for Captain Smollet from the original story – more or less. If there is one point which is problematic about the original book than the fact that aside from Long John Silver, none of the characters are particularly layered or interesting. They are mostly archetypes which present a specific group of English society. “Treasure Planet” takes great care to take those characters and give them some depth, and Captain Amelia is one of the best examples.

Captain Smollet is a strict captain, who is all about duty and fairness, and keeping a clear head and tight control in difficult situations. Period. There is really not much more to his character. Captain Amelia on the other hand is all that and much more. She is confident, but not overly so. She is a big of a bragger, but with the abilities to back it up. She is sarcastic and will tell you if you are an idiot right in your face if she feels the need to do so. She has a lot of humour, especially evident in the way she interacts with Arrow.

Being a Disney character, she naturally doesn’t escape a love story (honestly, Disney is obsessed with pairing characters, no matter what gender). And we are back to the “action girl and nerd” pairing, but this is another example of the trope I don’t mind (again, Disney really likes this trope, but it is always done very well). Mostly because Captain Amelia doesn’t take Doctor Doppler serious as long as he is just the guy with the crazy ideas. It is only after he proves himself useful on several occasions that she gives him the time of a day.

It is too bad that Captain Amelia is sometimes side-lined, to make room for the actual protagonist of the movie. But when she is on screen, she sparkles, and Disney forgets at no point that she is supposed to be an experienced captain.

Quote: “Doctor, to muse and blabber about a treasure map in front of this particular crew… demonstrates a level of ineptitude that borders on the imbecilic. And I mean that in a very caring way.”

Even though the movie is technically not steampunk, the designs should speak to all fans of the genre, so a clear recommendation there from me. With Treasure Island fans, I guess it depends. I love the take, but I can see why some people have trouble to deal with some of the changes. Disney or animation fans will not necessarily love it, but I don’t think that anyone will rue to have given it at least one watch. There is certainly enough good in it that one shouldn’t miss it out, and I consider it certainly one of the good works from Disney, even though it falls one or two steps short of being outstanding.  

5 thoughts on “Honoring the Heroine: Captain Amelia

  1. It has been a bit. Well, I agree with you about her. She is a very strong and engaging character. She does have her doubts, but she is very focused with her own humor and ways of doing things. I do think her relationship with Doppler could have been done better though.

  2. I have to admit that I never saw this movie, because I thought setting “Treasure Island” in space only was stupid. But now I keep hearing good things about it, so I guess I might check it out one of these days.

    • Well, you need an open mind for the setting, but as someone who has watched a ton of Treasure Island adaptations, I give it my stamp of approval. It is worth at least one watch. I can’t promise that you’ll like it, but there is certainly enough good in it that you won’t have the feeling that you wasted your time.

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