Let me backup a little for those who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. We’re discussing Captain Marvel, Disney/Marvel’s latest episode in the big screen bonanza that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With just a few weeks left to go before the conclusion of the MCU’s Thanos problem, Captain Marvel is a great bit of lighter fun with bits of back story and new plot bunnies as well as just enough future references to keep us tantalized until Endgame comes crashing down on us.
Originally, I’d hoped to go see Captain Marvel on its opening weekend (if for no other reason than to stick it to the anti-fem trolls), but schedules and laziness prevented that. Regardless, Cap’s opening weekend was more than enough to give the trolls the very large dollar-bill-shaped middle finger. As a note, it looks like Captain Marvel’s opening weekend (as a comic book movie) was only bested by Black Panther domestically (and not by much), and us unmatched internationally. Check out Fortune Mag’s tally here.
For those who’ve read the comics, there are some huge differences between the MCU Cap and her comics counterpart. I’m not really going to go into all of that, since there are tons of other references that can cover that more thoroughly and in much more excruciating detail than I could. Instead, I’ll focus on what I found interesting. After all, that’s really what you came here for isn’t it? My influential and prescient opinions? And, my opinion is that Captain Marvel pretty much rocks. From her stubborn defiance at every man telling her she shouldn’t do something, to constantly being told she’s “too emotional,” to the asshole on the motorcycle telling her to smile… Captain Marvel embodies that same dollar-sign-shaped middle finger directed at the patriarchy.
Captain Marvel vs. Black Panther
There’s plenty of comparison between Black Panther and Captain Marvel, especially from the perspective of being stories told from perspectives other than a white-male hero. For me, though, this film was filled with a lot more feminist messages than I expected, and that’s a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, the messaging is certainly not preachy or anything like that. In fact, Co-Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck do a masterful job of doing almost the exact same thing with this flick that Director Ryan Coogler did with Black Panther. Both films are fantastic at showing us a reality from that non-white-male perspective.
In Black Panther, the most poignant messaging for me in the film actually centers around Killmonger’s origins. Don’t get me wrong, I love the afro-futurism reality of Wakanda, but in many ways Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger steals a lot of the spotlight and emotional conflict.
Captain Marvel, on the other hand, drops us right smack in the middle of the 1990s in the U.S., an environment that is immediately relatable since many of us grew up in that reality. And here, like in Black Panther, we simply see things from the main character’s perspective. The difference here being that we’re not looking at a place that could be or could have been, we’re looking at what really is. And, yes, I mean what is, not what was, because as much as we like to think that things have improved over time, the truth is assholes still exist and still treat women (and others) like second-class people who should smile more because it will make them look prettier.
Sociological issues aside… I really enjoyed the movie. I’ve seen comments that the plot is a little soft, that it feels a little lost in the first half. I suppose I can get that, but for me the first half ambled because that was the story. Vers and Fury were kind of ambling along, not sure what to do. By the third act of the film, Vers has kind of made up her mind and that’s when things get fun.
The relationship between Vers and Fury is also a big highlight for the film. Their chemistry on the screen is a large part of what makes this movie work. Well, that and Goose the Flurken. Goose is probably the biggest, most entertaining surprise in the whole film.
Captain Marvel, though, isn’t without its issues. Most of the things in the film can be put down to just being in a fantasy comic-book universe, but there were a couple that stuck out for me as just odd. Now, I’m about to get a little spoilery, so if you haven’t seen the film, skip the next couple of paragraphs.
My first issue was with how the Tesseract ended up in Dr. Lawson’s hands in the first place. As far as we know, Howard Stark fished it out of the Atlantic while he was searching for Steve Rogers. Given that Dr. Lawson was working on her “power core” while Howard was still alive (1989), I have a hard time imagining that he would have parted ways with it willingly. Of course, the government could have confiscated it and lent it to Lawson for defense research, but it takes a few leaps to get there for that.
Secondly, what happened to all of Yon-Rog’s team that were left aboard Lawson’s lab from the escape? Presumably they didn’t have any other ships, and we know for sure that Korath survives, because we see him later in Guardians of the Galaxy. And thirdly, and this is one that my son had an issue with, how the heck does she do a light-speed jump at the end? I brushed it off as her being with the lab/ship, but the more I think about it the more I realize she was probably towing the lab-ship in the first place, otherwise Lawson would have taken it and left a long time ago.
Minor issues aside, Captain Marvel is a ton of fun. As with any comic book movie, don’t look for real logic or science in anything. Take everything with a grain of salt and just kind of hang on for the ride. And a heck of a ride it is. I mean, when you’re dealing with shapeshifting aliens, and super-powered heroes, you just kind of have to go with the flow. Oh, and the flurken. We can’t forget the flurken, lest he swallow us all.