PG-13 for basic Marvel action. I pre-screened this one for my daughter, so I was really watching. Considering that the MCU loves throwing in some casual language, this one kind of kept it to a minimum. There were a few here and there. Sam Jackson gets a near MF'er in there, and I mainly think that they gave it to him because he's Sam Jackson. There's violence. I don't know if it is less uncomfortable or more uncomfortable if someone bleeds blue blood, but that happens from time-to-time. Regardless, this one is one of the least offensive of the Marvel movies. Still, you know, use caution. Apparently, I just want my kids to see everything.
DIRECTORS: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
I might be one of the great holdouts for this movie. I'm not going to apologize for a second nor should I have to, but I absolutely adored this movie. It is exactly what I wanted a Captain Marvel movie to be. But I know that I'm slightly alone on this. It is really hard to gauge what people actually think of this movie because of the troll bomb that hit the reviews before the movie came out. Most professional critics came away the idea that Captain Marvel is pretty great, but not as great as it could have been. I don't know about that. My wife and sister-in-law thought it was only okay, which blows my mind. I don't know what movie they were watching. Maybe there's a different print of the movie. Regardless, my daughter thought it was completely rad. She gave it a 9 out of 10, guys. She wanted some more Marvel superheroes in it, but that's the only thing that held her back.
I already wrote a review for this on CNA. I think I have more to say on this movie and I'm not quite sure what that is going to be. When I write my reviews for actual publication and for other sources, I tend to think things out in terms of clarity and purpose. When I write for the analysis page on this, there's a lot of freewheeling and attempts to get mildly philosophical. I keep coming back to the MCU movies as an exercise in strategy. If we looked at the MCU movies as, essentially, sequelized films, there has to be a balance. The idea of a really tight cinematic universe like the Marvel movies has is something unique. The movies ask you to watch all of the films. The movies come out often and bombastically. If they were all the same tone, we would get bored remarkably fast. I know some people have gotten bored and I'd like to say to those people that they are wrong. I think I noticed the intentional tonal shift primarily with the Ant-Man movies. The entire litany of Marvel movies is essentially one big story. I'd love to graph all of the movies out on one plot line and see if it lines up with the basic elements of plot. It is also about dealing with Thanos and I don't know if that was the plan from Day One or only seemed to work once The Avengers came out. Like a great epic, there are spikes in the plot that are important and elements that are less important. However, for the characters in the story, every moment is important. I keep comparing the MCU to Game of Thrones because both stories are kind of working in the same way. We have all of these characters leading epic lives, almost unaware of what is happening to other people in the world. All of these destinies will be intertwined. But in a movie like Captain Marvel, it all seems so distant and removed. Captain Marvel is the first movie in the however-many-sequel-spinoffs (22?) that acts as a retcon. It's a bit of a minor retcon and it's a little bit of a cheat in the long run. I was teaching the students about Chekhov's Gun yesterday and Captain Marvel is a bit of a backwards Chekhov's Gun. We see the gun fired before we see the gun loaded. Captain Marvel is the answer to how it was loaded. But I really don't mind that. Something about the MCU and Kevin Feige (who is starting to reach Gene Roddenberry level of respect for me) says that everything is meticulously planned. I honestly am a little stressed for them on behalf of gaining the 20th Century Fox properties because those might not be part of the master plan. (Although, this might be the start of a real Phase Two, unlike the phases they have been releasing.)
I like smaller stories. Captain Marvel is about her, Carol Danvers. It's an origin story when we're kind of afraid to do origin stories. The character of Captain Marvel desperately needed her first movie to be an origin story. It's really complex. Like, I even read Captain Marvel comics from time-to-time and I was confused about her origin. Her story is way too complicated and I didn't know how the movie would address the absolute mess that was her story. The thing about Captain Marvel is that she is intricately tied to her origin, but also way more than her origin herself. I know. I seem to be talking in circles. Spider-Man is his origin story, first and foremost. All of his decisions are based on how how got his powers and what he did with those powers. But the comic book version was originally like a She-Hulk or a Supergirl situation. She was the female counterpart to an established male character. The male Captain Marvel was a big deal back in the day. I mean, he was always third tier superhero, but he was a solid third tier superhero. Then he died, oddly enough of cancer and Carol Danvers became Ms. Marvel. She wore skimpy clothing and was fairly vapid. But then, Carol Danvers got a huge upgrade at Marvel. She took on the mantle of her predecessor and kind of stopped defining herself by her gender. I can't imagine a world where Marvel decided to repeat their mistakes with the early incarnations of Carol Danvers. But her story is all about being considered a second rate female version of an established character. It motivates her to refuse to accept whatever limitations were placed on her by men in her life. It's when she takes on that name with some heavy thought on the responsibility of that name, that Carol Danvers becomes worthy of her own movie. Yeah, she's not in the Captain America or Spider-Man A-level, but Captain Marvel is a solid B-tier super hero. The thing that is even more insane is that she's going to be a major player in Endgame. By the time that the MCU completely unveils her, she might be a Captain America level character that we deal with. That's not insane. I mean, Iron Man was almost a C-level character before the first Iron Man movie came out. Building that character up is kind of appropriate for the character. I think that the Marvel books, especially with the push of author Kelly Sue DeConnick, have been pushing for Carol to become central to the MCU. I mean, she was one half of the duel in "Civil War II". That's right. There's a "Civil War II." I bet you thought all that superhero infighting was over. So giving her this origin story is this balancing act because it is a step back in terms of storytelling, but also a step forward because it makes the origin more important than it needed to be. Look at the difference between Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange. I remember hearing that Dr. Strange wasn't going to have an origin story because people were getting sick of origin stories. But it did. It needed it. The deeper Marvel delves into its own history, the more we're going to need some explanations. But Doctor Strange, as much as I like it, is kind of one of the more boring Marvel entries. Instead, Carol somehow progresses the overall Marvel Universe while still getting a story that is her own. We get Nick Fury and Agent Coulson. (By the way, Coulson on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems pretty ignorant of the Kree. What's up with that?) There's so much going on here that is just fun.
I'm going to wax poetic and get all political. I'm a big supporter of refugees. This administration...okay, I'm not going to scream into the void about this. But there are ways to talk about politics through allegory and Captain Marvel nailed it. Completely and utterly nailed it. There were times when it could be considered preachy. But the movie addresses the issue of immigration and helping refugees in a way that again would make Gene Roddenberry proud. It was a twist. I didn't really see that twist coming. SPOILER: I like my Skrulls evil, but these Skrulls were absolutely great. They weren't evil, but they weren't Hallmark heartwarmingly good. There's this realistic element that the movie presents. I think we're used to a very easy answer to a lot of things going on and Captain Marvel points to the right answer while allowing some of the complexities to stand. Ben Mendelsohn is a pretty rad actor and his career is blowing up pretty nicely right now. I want to see that continue to happen because he makes a great character here. I think that he's playing up to some of his strengths and associations because we all assumed that Ben Mendelsohn was going to be a bad guy. Jude Law telegraphs pretty intensely as eventually going to turn, but I didn't exactly know how. The movie gives these little pieces of foreshadowing without being so overt that the movie can't be enjoyed. Can I say that I love Annette Benning as Mar-vell? It is weird that her character is completely transformed from the original version and that's pretty cool. Part of me wants to see a young Annette Benning sporting Nega Bands in a flashback or something, but I like the mother / daughter style relationship that the two of them had. Would I have liked to see the Supreme Intelligence as a giant green head? Probably. But do I get that some things look silly and maybe settling for the easier to swallow look isn't the worst idea in the world? That's more accurate. I'm also preaching to you, people who are trying to dunk on Will Smith as the Genie. That character was never going to look great as a live action character, so chill out. It seems like it is well in hand based on that newest trailer. Going back. There are so many good choices in this movie. The only thing that is a little inaccessible is the first fifteen or so minutes. The introduction in space is dizzying. I'm a big Marvel nerd and I was having a hard time following what planet was which and why I should care. I mean, there's all these Guardians of the Galaxy callbacks, but you really couldn't enjoy them based on how frantic the beginning was. I know that Carol didn't always know what was going on at what time, but why should we be left out in the dark as well?
Yeah, I'm going to stand by Captain Marvel. I had a phenomenal time at it. The '90s stuff, while a little telegraphed and forced at times, was rad. I wish the soundtrack followed Guardians of the Galaxy's lead a little harder, but that's to be forgiven. It's a much better movie than some people are saying it is. Yeah it's not perfect, but it is exactly what I wanted it to be.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.