Last night I got out to see Captain Marvel with my son. It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks so I was very glad I managed to squeeze in some time to see it in the theater. I’ve been looking forward to it since it was announced! I enjoyed the film, and so I wanted to share non-spoiler reflections on it.
Things I Appreciated
Revealing the identities of some characters would, unfortunately, be a huge spoiler – but there’s quite a few that I can still point out that really shone.
I love how the film portrayed the Kree Supreme Intelligence 1. Annette Bening, who is one of my favorite actresses, portrays the avatar for this being as it presents itself to Carol Danvers. And let me tell you, it’s creepy. This is a huge upgrade from the weird green blob which portrays the Supreme Intelligence in the comics.
Jude Law as Yon-Rogg shines among the mostly generic members of the Kree Star Force. He’s charming, but has a serious edge that serves to make viewers tense up when they see the character.
Samuel L. Jackson was Samuel L. Jackson, ’nuff said 2.
Lashana Lynch does fine with her portrayal of Maria Rambeau, but I would have liked to see the character get a bit more time to shine. Some more flashbacks would have fleshed out her character, and I’m sure there’s got to be footage of her around somewhere.
Brie Larson was really good. She’s got a disarming charm that really hasn’t been seen in other portrayals of Carol Danvers’ as Captain Marvel. In other mediums she’s shown as a military, for lack of a better phrase, hard ass. In Captain Marvel she’s shown as riding the edge between laid back and intense, with a fair amount of snark used to maintain her balance. Because she’s seen on the Kree homeworld, which is a militaristic society, I like how the film portrayed her character. The military hard ass version of Carol Danvers would have fit in too well in Kree society, whereas the snark of the film’s more complex version of character makes her stand out as someone who doesn’t belong.
Captain Marvel is a cool origin story precisely because Carol Danvers has no idea who she is. So he’s not just discovering her place in the heroic universe of the MCU, she’s discovering her own identity 3. I enjoy the arc Danvers is forced to travel, and the way it sets up how the MCU unfolded after Nick Fury met her. Very well done.
The Deep Cuts
There is one deep cut in the film which is a shout-out to the person who held the Captain Marvel name when I first started reading comics. I can’t say what or who, but I laughed. And if you came of age in the 90’s, like me, you will grin at the ambiance of the film. It’s spot on.
The Opening Logos
First, Marvel, that was not fair.
Second, I applauded. Seriously, I clapped during the logos. You need to see the film to find out why.
Things I didn’t appreciate as much
I’m not giving any spoilers, here, but if you grew up reading the comic version of the Skrulls the MCU version of this species is going to feel just a bit off. Skrulls in Marvel Comics are paranoid, aggressive, and menacing. They are adversaries which are to be feared, and sparked an entire story arc in the comics called “Secret Invasion.” MCU Skrulls remain a bit creepy, but the menace just wasn’t there for me. I can’t say more without spoiling some major plot points, but I do understand the shift. The Skrulls in the comics sprang from a Cold War mentality where being infiltrated by a enemy state was very much on people’s minds. We don’t live there anymore 4.
S.H.I.E.L.D also doesn’t show an awareness of powered operatives in this film, which I find weird since the first versions of both Ant Man and The Wasp would have been active a few short years before the events of Captain Marvel. Also, Coulson 5 remembered Captain America in the first Avengers film 6. It would have been nice to see them saying something to the effect of, “Here we go again.” But that’s me 7.
There were a couple of points where characters seem to jump between locations without explanation at points during the film’s climax 8. Stuff like that tends to take me out of the moment as my brain tries to unravel how that character popped to a different location without explanation. It’s a thing most folks won’t even pick up, but it jarred me out of the moment for a few seconds and it was kind of a bummer.
This isn’t about the film, but it’s part of the whirlwind around it. Art as activism is not a new phenomenon. If fact, you could make an argument that activism is one of the points of good art, and activism works out of ideology. Ideological reviews, on the other hand, drive me nuts.
Before Captain Marvel came out the basement dwelling, misogynist, lunatic fringe was already panning the movie as being the end of the MCU 9. But after the film came out the activist reviews multiplied. Conservative Christian 10 site, “Desiring God” panned the film as feminist ideology which dares to tell women they can be a strong as men 11. But some more progressive outlets have said the film isn’t feminist enough 12. I get the our ideologies will color our interpretation of art, but when art gets panned because it doesn’t completely align with our ideology we’ve veered into an attitude ripe to be seized by totalitarianism. Captain Marvel may critique us, or it may not affirm us enough, can we please just let it do that?
Ignore the ideologues reviewing the film from the two polar ends of the U.S. political continuum. Captain Marvel is worth seeing in the theatre. If I had to make a comparison with the only other female-centric Super Hero production, Wonder Woman, I’d have to say that Captain Marvel doesn’t quite reach those heights. Wonder Woman remains one of the best super hero movies I’ve seen 13, and Captain Marvel doesn’t crack my personal list of top five MCU films 14. It’s a good film, it’s worth seeing on the big screen, and it introduces a major character in the MCU moving forward.
- The Supreme Intelligence is a collective AI consciousness of all Kree which rules their empire. Yes, I’m a nerd. You’re reading a review of a super-hero film, what does that make you? ↩
- Comic book readers will see what I did there. ↩
- This was in the trailers, so I’m not counting is as a spoiler. So there. ↩
- Except among fringe conservatives who think anyone who is remotely different from them is an infiltrating enemy out to destroy us. That these folks read social feeds which come from Russia is an irony which doesn’t dawn on them. ↩
- I was so happy to see him back, though he gets short-changed. ↩
- They’re vintage. ↩
- My first version of this post mentioned a retcon that I couldn’t fit into the latter MCU. It turns out I was misremembering something so I took out that paragraph. I’m leaving this footnote here becuase I like to keep records of me not being perfect. It’s helpful to me. ↩
- And they weren’t Skrulls, so that’s not an explanation. ↩
- Which they said for Black Panther as well, oops. ↩
- Or is it rabid, neo-calvinist? I get confused. ↩
- The nerve. ↩
- Mostly because it had the audacity to come out after Wonder Woman because… reasons. ↩
- And as a die hard Marvel fan, it’s painful to say that. Nothing beats The Dark Knight, though. ↩
- Infinity War, Ragnorak, Guardians 1 & 2, Homecoming/Black Panther (I have to flip a coin). ↩