Reel Quick: Captain Marvel (Additional thoughts)


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Captain Marvel (2019)

I wanted to add some more opinions and thoughts to my initial review, which I glibly and quickly rushed after I just saw the flick to capitalize on the opening weekend (it’s rare when we see a movie before Friday evenings). While everything I previously stated is still well and good, I could and should chat more about my feelings since now I had a whole weekend to mull the movie over. Let me say right off the bat that my score of 8 is probably a bit too high and it should probably be closer to a 6.5 or 7. I think the initial feeling after seeing the movie was “it was good” and “it didn’t bore me at all” made me think it was great or awesome—which in a few days hindsight is probably too hyperbolic.

The movie’s fine. FINE. Just FINE. It wasn’t groundbreaking or mind-shattering in the least. But like I said, I was never bored nor was I nitpicking it the whole time. I had a good time watching it and I could definitely see it again. But I’d be remiss if I call this a cinematic achievement. But then again, what Marvel movie is since the first Avenger’s movie. Infinity War, while supremely impressive in the integration of 10 years and about 20 movies worth of storytelling combined, it wasn’t a movie that did that much to me in terms of character development or world critical thinking. I think the only movie I can say that is close to life altering (to me anyway) is The Dark Knight. To quickly explain what I mean, I can still watch TDK (and to a lesser extent the other two Nolan Bat-flicks) and refer to some quotes as life lessons. It also showed, even as a comic book movie, that moral lessons could still be told in an effective way. The scene with the two ferries for instance. Or the “Some men just want to see the world burn” line from Alfred. TDK taught me or reinforced my beliefs in a greater way that no other superhero movie ever has again.

Most of the character development in the MCU is lackluster at best or expressed in a half-assed way. While Tony Stark developed from greedy and pompous weapons manufacturer to selfless hero, in later films he doesn’t learn much from his mistakes—Ultron and Vision are the best examples of this. Maybe this is because there’s so many characters now but each character is acting more or less the same since their introductions.

So FINE is the best word to describe the MCU movies of late. While the Avengers is a home run, (mostly) everything else is a double. Which is good—don’t get me wrong. If you’re watching your favorite player bat in  baseball and he hit that home run that one time and made you super excited but ever since he’s been hitting doubles, you’d still be proud & happy, but it’s just not as exciting as cracking the ball out of the park. That’s how Captain Marvel feels to me. A nice double—or in her case since I liked it more than Dr. Strange or Black Panther, a ground-rule double.

I think also, for me as a kid who grew up reading Marvel comics, I give these FINE MCU movies more of a pass since they are doing the characters right. They are not DC/Warner Brothers and totally getting their properties and tones wrong. Man of Steel is still the worst example of getting the whole thing wrong. While I don’t know much about the Ms. Marvel Carol Danvers story or history I’m still conditioned enough to realize that these films, especially hers, is FINE.

It’s the one that says Bad Mother Flerken.

I talked briefly and probably very glibly about the political aspect of the feminism aspect of Captain Marvel and I’m still OK with what I said. But I can elaborate more. I failed to mention that there was a middle-aged African-American gentleman, a tad older than me I’m assuming, in our screening, wearing an awesome Black Panther leather jacket. That jacket must’ve cost a pretty penny I can surmise. So here’s this fella who is such a comic book fan who spent a lot of dough on purchasing a Black Panther themed jacket to wear to another MCU premiere. And he was seeing this movie alone to boot. That to me transcends the whole social and political aspect of these movies. I’m positive he was super-duper proud and glad that Black Panther was made, was successful, and earned high-ranking accolades as well. He may have been a huge Marvel superhero fan for a long time and is a proud supporter of the genre. To him, this is the high water mark of modern cinema and possibly art—and it’s a medium that is not-so-gently easing tensions in social and political realms. I said that it’s ““an astonishment (or maybe a shame) that pulpy comic book stories are now the high mark of cultural and social events.” Well it’s not a shame the more I think about it. And it’s not a negative way of saying astonishment either. Is there a difference if a young African-American boy looks up to Black Panther as well as Colin Kaepernick? I’d have to say no. With multiple comic book based movies coming out every year and making mega-bucks this is the current trend of mass appeal. So if more and more of these superhero movies make any social or political impact, so be it I say.

The other thing about this film is I said that [Captain Marvel] “…wasn’t bogged down in a ton of female-empowerment though but it certainly was there in spots.” Well now I’m kinda bummed it didn’t do it more. I went into the movie expecting more, especially in the scenes at her Air Force training. Well, the movie really didn’t have any Air Force training or pilot training really. This movie kinda eschewed the typical origin story that the other MCU films have and so it suffers that critical character female development that I was expecting. I thought there would be a tough as nails instructor on Danvers, not as bad as Viggo Mortensen in GI Jane, but someone who gave her a sexist hard time. There was one fella who in a flash-back made a crude joke about female pilots but it was quick. I think there was a mention about the female pilots not allowed to be in combat as well but that’s about it. On the one hand, we could have a movie where the female character overcomes male-driven odds and become a stronger woman or we could already have the strong-willed and lionhearted female from the start and show her taking risks and never giving up, which is more or less what Captain Marvel did. I’m still not sure how female audiences are taking this approach since I haven’t seen any reviews or talked to any ladies about the movie yet.

So don’t get me wrong when I say that this movie is FINE. I liked it a lot but as a film critic it’s not a great movie really. It’s a fun movie, it’s a highly entertaining popcorn action flick and it’s made competently. There’s really nothing negative to say about the movie but there’s nothing really super positive to say either. It whet my appetite for Avengers: Endgame and it made me curious enough to see how the MCU goes forward with Captain Marvel in future adventures with her.

 

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