With Avengers: Endgame coming to theaters in less than a month, Captain Marvel showing in March seems like a rush project to anticipate what would be a dramatic, supposedly epic, two part-requiring "conclusion" to the Thanos problem. Yet, on its own, Captain Marvel already draws a lot of excitement—especially as the first female starrer in the MCU and within an age of rightfully #woke cinema appreciators. (You arrived too soon, ScarJo, but we still love you as Black Widow!) But is there more than what the press release says?
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Nostalgia plays a huge factor on how the movie gets us hooked the first chance it gets. Pagers, payphones, TLC, Gwen Stefani, dial-up internet, the concept of "Loading," grunge fashion, etc... These days, there seems to be no decade more loved recently in pop culture than the 90s! +3
The throwback concept also comes into play, showing us how Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) loses his left eye that would pin his iconic look in the "present" universe. In the comics, he loses his vision from the Second World War. But since Captain Marvel isn't set in the 40s, and this is Disney in 2019, he gets the incurable eye injury to a... cat scratch courtesy of Goose the Flerken. +0, we guess? On the other hand, the S.H.I.E.L.D. leader shows us his comical, pre-"Avengers, Assemble!" side, one we haven't really seen before. This trickles down very well into a chemistry between him and Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), who is rather stereotypically calm and collected. Nick Fury without the "fury" ultimately gives the younger audience a chance to appreciate a post-Mace Windu Jackson. For those into metaphors, a more jovial Nick Fury provides the peephole of humanity buried within Danvers that's just waiting to be sliced open. +3
We're sure it isn't just Larson's Amy Poehler resemblance that has us rubbing our chin over her casting. Sure, she took on bit roles at first most of them in comedy (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 21 Jump Street, etc.). But she would actually nab Best Actress awards for some of her recent works—among which are a BAFTA, a Golden Globes, and an Academy trophy for the heartbreaking motherhood drama Room. So, yes, we're just convincing ourselves that she deserves this! +2
Since we’re on the topic of Captain Marvel herself: Sure, we can pass up on her fight scenes lacking its action and intensity, but hear this out—Danvers doesn't get a justifying character arc. Even as the central conflict rises and she’s faced to choose sides, it seems like growth went out of the window and dissolved in space next to Mar-Vell's Laboratory. It might just be the brainwashing and how this fits into the reverse-chronological writing and narrative albeit so roughly. The obvious CGI (like, Venom even did better?) also isn't helping. -2
What we admire, though, is, again, the film pursuing females. Captain Marvel remarkably sheds the spotlight on women who need no men in their journey to be badass and superior. In fact, the movie treats Danvers so, say, objectively, that it doesn't even push through with a supposedly climatic part where Yon-Rogg (Law) challenges her to a fist fight. "I don't have to prove anything to you!" she tells him after handing him a sucker punch. Another case in point: A female taking on Mar-Vell (Annette Bening), originally a man who mentors Danvers in the comics! +5 Yet another case in point: Gemma Chan as Kree soldier Minn-Erva just because... +1
The "twist" that everybody loves, of course, is Yon-Rogg being revealed as evil. His agenda to run after the Skrull finally unfolds with a foolery on Danvers, who then gets enlightened and then turns against him and her then-Kree comrades. The switch of Danver's sympathy shoots an instant 4 points! This is mainly why Law's final role in the film also took a while for it to surface off screen, adding to the mystery. Oh, Marvel!
That said, the iconic Kree-Skrull war isn't really given a direct portrayal from its original material. But, all good! This obviously will lead to more characters with bigger, more complicated arcs within the MCU in the near future, but we all know we'll love it! +3
Working retro... That Stan Lee tribute at the beginning of the film, though! We're always so annoyed at how Marvel does its almost one-minute-long logos at the beginning of every damn film, but we just have to give this one to His Excelsior. 'Nuff said. +3
A total of 22 points! Against its sexier, heavier, more brooding, heart-wrenching version, but likewise female starred Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel comes in with a little less at stake in terms of the story and depth. No big, emotional, iconic scenes to hold on to here, really. No romance to relate to, too. Yet, it intelligently utilizes Marvel's signature genius in visual effects and humor and employs subtlety in promoting female equality. It's another story altogether if Danvers and BFF Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) were secret lovers, with theorists saying it would have been the perfect flick in postmodern and mainstream LGBTQ cinema! The good thing is, movies like this exist and are distributed globally—and we just can't wait for more.
—With Mariel Abanes
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Photos courtesy of Marvel Studios | Special thanks to Shangri-La Plaza