There has been a ton of hype, a lot of questions and a little controversy building up towards the release of Marvel’s latest cinematic chapter: Captain Marvel (AKA The Last Marvel Movie Before Avengers: Endgame).
We knew that this movie was supposed to take place in the 1990’s, years before Iron Man or any other Marvel movie (besides Captain America: The First Avenger). So I was real excited to see how they were going to work that out in the current continuum.
How would they tie this story in with Thanos? Have the shape-changing Skrulls been on Earth all this time? Will we see Nick Fury lose his eye? Being set in the 1990’s, how much grunge music and band t-shirts will we be forced to endure? (Answer: A Lot)
OBVIOUS SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Leading up to the release of this film, a lot has been made of the “Women’s Empowerment” movement and how much that would play into the film. Obviously the film has a strong female lead, who’s character is arguably the most powerful in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but also a female co-director and co-writer. As well as actress Brie Larson’s comments while on the press tour.
Let me put people’s minds to rest: This was all a bunch of unfounded hoopla generated by some keyboard commando’s who hadn’t even seen the movie.
YES, the film had a strong female lead…as it should! The film is about a female super-hero!
She should be strong willed and far more ‘Princess Leia’ than ‘Princess Ariel’.
To the MCU fanbase I say: “Relax”! I would hate to see the Marvel fanbase become as toxic as the Star Wars fanbase has become post ‘Last Jedi’.
Carol Danvers was shown throughout her young life to have been repeatedly told she wasn’t strong enough, big enough or good enough to do what others could. (Keep in mind, the military in the late 1980’s didn’t treat women as fairly as they do today.)
But rather than complain how unfair things were or feel she was ‘entitled’ to something, she continuously got back up and worked harder. That should be admired, not shamed and this origin story should remind us of another Captain in the MCU…
But at no point did I think that the strength of the Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel character came at the expense of the male characters in the movie. Unless you count seeing Nick Fury washing dishes as demeaning..
Side note: Since Danvers disappeared on active duty and re-appeared 6 years later, does the United States Air Force owe her backpay? The crew over at Task and Purpose explains…
The Lead Characters
I enjoyed Brie Larson’s performance as Carol Danvers. She looked right at home in the action sequences as well as the more emotional scenes in the film. My only complaint (and it is minor) is that at times some of the comedic parts felt a little forced and didn’t follow the flow of the film (more on that later).
Samuel L. Jackson put in his consistently strong performance as Nick Fury (more on that in a second as well)
Lashana Lynch made her MCU debut as Carol Danvers’ best friend and fellow United States Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau. While Lynch’s performance was strong, the role was the typical canned best friend “wingman” character.
I did like that the writers worked in Rambeau’s daughter Monica, who was the first female Captain Marvel in the comic books. With this movie taking place roughly 20 years prior to Avengers: Endgame, it will be interesting to see if they work an appropriately aged Monica into Endgame somehow.
I also liked Jude Law’s take on Yon-Rogg. He played good soldier following orders from his commanders for what he thought would accomplish the greatest good. No Oscar will be awarded here, but solid performance none the less.
Nick Fury’s Digital Make-Up
De-aging a character through digital make-up has been done before in movies with varying degrees of success. From early uses such as Professor X and Magneto in X-Men: The Last Stand to the more successful young Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War.
This, however, is the first time I can think of where it was done with a main character for the entire length of the film.
It was very successful! Sam Jackson believably looked 20 years younger! I was very impressed with how it turned out and didn’t look artificial in any way.
There was a fight scene between him and Talos where the camera intentionally consistently caught the back of Jackson’s head however. It wasn’t a big deal, however it was noticeable.
I’m not sure if this was because the fast paced motion made it hard for software to keep up or more of a budget concern, but that was the only noticeable scene where the thought of the digital make-up even came to mind.
Seeing Phil Coulson On The Big Screen Again
Phil Coulson has been an integral part of the MCU since it’s beginning. His dry humor and monotone “Men In Black” appeal has been fun to watch since he first appeared in the initial Iron Man film and it was great to see him on screen as a fresh faced S.H.I.E.L.D. rookie.
Full disclosure: I am a few seasons behind on the Agents of S.H.I..E.L.D. I sort of lost interest when they kept bringing the Ward character back over and over and over…
I will say upfront that this is my personal opinion and necessarily something the film makers did wrong.
But I am just getting tired of seeing the same sad tale of the “oppressed minority” over and over again on screen. Maybe I am skewed from watching this season of The Orville where those writers recycled this same tired trope for literally every single episode (although I did like the last couple episodes).
The Skrulls are war mongering bad-@$$e$ in the comic books and were major players in many of the most pivotal storylines in Marvel’s history. To see them reduced to stereotyped ‘wandering refugee’ characters just seemed like a waste of some iconic characters…on top of lazy writing.
Why not save these shape shifting characters for a grander storyline? A ‘Secret Invasion’ story arc could easily be made into the next multi-movie phase for Marvel tying in multi feature film releases. Who knows, maybe that is what the heads of Marvel studios have in mind.
And while it is still possible, it looks like I really whiffed on my “Is Hawkeye A Skrull?” fan theory. And it wasn’t the first one I missed on either, remember when I thought Winter Soldier may have killed Spider-Man’s parents?
Nick Fury’s Eye
This was something that many of us saw coming but I think the film makers really dropped the ball on.
When looking closely at Nick Fury’s damaged eye, you can see a distinct long scar that looks vary similar to a cat scratch. A few years ago, my wife and I rescued a cat in a snow storm (that we appropriately named Taun-Taun) and I am familiar with these scratch marks.
So it was not surprising that the cat Goose (great wingman name) was responsible for Fury’s need to turn to see all his monitors.
But the scene did not follow the flow of the film at all. It almost seemed like it was thrown in as an after thought. Like the directors just watched Thor: Ragnarok and were like “Oh Crap! We need to have a scene with completely unexpected off-beat humor!”
I liked Goose the cat/Flerken as a whole in the movie and it was a good idea to change its comic book name from ‘Chewie’ to a good wingman name like ‘Goose’. Even with both franchises being owned by Disney, I still wonder if a few attorneys were involved in this decision.
It was a great way to tie a humorous character from the Captain Marvel comics into the film. And Goose had many meaningful and memorable scenes in the film, but this was simply not a successfully executed one.
I would like to have seen the post-credit scene tie into the Avengers: Endgame film differently. The scene they used felt like it may have simply been lifted from Endgame (similar to the Ant-Man post-credit scene) and not original content.
Side note: If you are a little confused about the tesseract and how it plays into the timeline of Captain Marvel after this film, so was I. But re-watch the post-credit scene from the first Thor movie and it helps clear things up a little.
The End Result
Overall, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit.
I would not rank in my top 3 favorite MCU films of all time, (That still belongs to The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier & Iron Man) but I did think it was a solid super-hero origin story and fit very well into the MCU as a whole.
The characters were all well written (Skrulls aside), the actor’s performances were all very strong and the special effects were up to the usual high Marvel standards. Especially the de-aging digital make-up used on Sam Jackson.
The only deficiencies that I marked the film down for were my personal opinions and not production value related.
I do want to point out the very touching tribute to Stan Lee at the beginning of the film as well. It was a very well done and classy move. Well done, Disney!
Captain Marvel rated a 4 out of 5 on the Geeky Daddy Movie Rating Scale and a Kid Friendlyon the Geeky Daddy Sidekick Safe Scale.