Captain Marvel (2019)
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Ben Mendelsohn
Directed by: Anne Boden, Ryan Fleck
Synopsis: Intergalactic Kree warrior hunts down her enemies, the shape-shifting Skrulls on Earth while at the same time she tries to regain an understanding the mysteries of her past life.
What work(s): This being a Marvel movie, there’s really no complaining. I can pretty much end the review right here then. If you’ve seen most Marvel movies then you’ve come to quickly realize that they have a near-perfect formula going and there’s really not much I can say that other critics can or will.
However, I won’t be that lazy and I will try to say something profound about this popcorn superhero flick. I’m not 100% sure if Marvel/Disney purposefully opened this movie on International Women’s Day but it’s totally perfect since this is the first female driven movie in the MCU. The movie wasn’t bogged down in a ton of female-empowerment thought but it certainly was there in spots. There was a few moments of male chauvinism as well as mansplaining from her superiors, especially when she was younger and struggling as a Air Force cadet. Even her mentor played by Jude Law got what was coming to him eventually. There was also a great moment showing how often she faltered as a kid and young adult but always got right back up. It was a little on the nose for a comic book movie but then again, this is a comic book movie. I would argue that Captain Marvel portrayed a better female superhero with flaws that young girls can identify with better than Wonder Woman. I know it’s been awhile since I last saw Wonder Woman but I don’t remember her failing all that much and learning from those mistakes. Like Superman she was basically god-like and her story was more fish-out-of-water, whereas Captain Marvel was human that gained extraordinary powers and had to learn to use them.
Brie Larson shines (pun intended) as Danvers/Marvel with a noble confidence and tough-chick attitude. She’s not only skilled in combat but also quicker witted as well. Sam Jackson is awesome as usual playing a younger and more naive Nick Fury. I don’t have much to say about Jude Law or Annette Bening—they didn’t do or say much that impressed me but they didn’t stink up the screen either.
If you don’t already know, this film takes place in the mid-90s and while the feel of the grunge era really didn’t work for me, the nods and references, especially the music was fun. Although hearing No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” during a crucial fight scene was a bit much. But that could just be my testicles talking.
What fail(s): I’m sure this is just me these days but fight scenes don’t “do it” for me anymore. Yeah, yeah, yeah go ahead and call me a grumpy old man but there’s only so much you can impress a middle-aged guy with spin kicks and shoot ’em ups. Most of the movies and TV I watch are nothing but sword (or light saber fights), CGI monster fights or boring bullets ricocheting off boring plate armor or superhuman chests. I can say, however, that at its core, Captain Marvel is more of a cloak & dagger spy mission since its Marvel and Fury working together to solve the mystery of the Kree/Skrull war and Captain Marvel’s history. There’s minimal action sequences compared to the last few MCU movies. So if you’re going in this for the action-packing fisti-cuffs, you may be possibly disappointed.
The only other thing I was disappointed in was since this was set in 1994 or 1995 there wasn’t nod or reference to Pulp Fiction with Samuel L. Jackson. But that’s just me.
Overall: As I was leaving the theatre thinking about the movie, I couldn’t help thinking about the political implications. As a white male, I can only champion these new movies with having minorities at the forefront of the stories so much. The impact that these “changes” to the Hollywood political landscape aren’t that impactful to me. Maybe it’s because I don’t fear these changes because I’m a good guy. But I have zero idea how much women or young ladies are excited for a Captain Marvel movie. (although the theatre I was in was mostly men—fanboys and comic book nerds I’m sure) I’m assuming it’s a huge deal like how Black Panther was. But in my opinion for Black Panther, I said it was “an astonishment (or maybe a shame) that pulpy comic book stories are now the high mark of cultural and social events.” That was in reference that movies that showed real historical moments that mattered most to the Black community like 42 and Selma weren’t treated with the same hype as Black Panther, a popcorn blockbuster made by a huge multi-media conglomerate run by mostly all white dudes. I’m not that aware of any hype surrounding Captain Marvel this time, however, but the same idea applies. Will scores of young women go see the Ruth Bader Ginsburg movie: On the Basis of Sex? Did a ton of women go and pay for Suffragette a few years back? I guess it’s no big deal in that our minority “heroes” are comic book superheroes as long as they fulfill peoples’ political expectations. I mean, that is more or less what Stan Lee and his writers and artists at Marvel were doing in the turbulent 1960s and 70s with the civil rights movement and rise of feminism so it’s only fitting now that these movies make the same statements and impacts since we obviously didn’t advance as a society as well as we should have. But all in all, another fun time at the movies regardless of politics or social statements. I highly recommend it.
Score: 8 Elastica songs (out of 10)