Captain Marvel 2019
So here we are with the first MCU release of the year to kick things off into spring even though it’s still pretty damn cold here in the Midwest. Also, after 11 years and 18 movies, Marvel finally gives a woman center stage and on International Women’s Day no less. Captain Marvel is someone that I know very little about, I’m not overly familiar with the Kree or the Skrulls, so I was coming into this movie pretty fresh. And for the first time in my life, I actually went to see this movie on opening Thursday as the Friday release date keeps getting pushed back further and further. All things considered, this ended up being a fairly standard MCU movie that hits all the same beats along with some fun twists and a female empowerment message. Of course, fairly standard MCU is still an above average superhero movie it just doesn’t do anything to break new ground with the gold standard. And as I always do in my reviews, I will be discussing the movie in full so here’s your spoiler warning.
One of the most interesting things that this film does to break the mold is how it handles the villains. Skrulls haven’t really been used in live action movies just yet, though they are generally known as the villains, especially as they have shapeshifting properties so that it adds the mistrust slash Invasion of the Body Snatchers element where the heroes don’t know who they can trust as anyone could be a Skrull in disguise. And while it uses that in the first half of the movie, it flips the script and makes Carol Danvers realize that there’s actually two different viewpoints of the war and that she’s not necessarily on the side that’s she wants to be on. While the Kree paint the Skrulls as invading terrorists, the Skrulls see themselves as refugees who refuse to bend to the Kree’s will. The head Skrull who was initially seen as a villain just wanted to reunite with his family and take his race to a planet that they could survive in peace. But it doesn’t completely just paint him as a hapless victim. He admits to committing questionable acts in the service of war and just feels like a more real character because of it.
This is also the first female-led Marvel Cinematic Universe movie and so there’s going to be a bit of a feminist message within it and what we get is quite strong, especially when it comes to the climax. When Carol Danvers embraces her powers and overcomes the Supreme Intelligence it’s one of the most powerful moments in the movie as we get to see a montage not of her overcoming the struggles that we’ve seen in flashes over the course of the movie as she doesn’t have a complete memory of her life on Earth. Instead, we see a montage of the failures in her life, but after every one of her failures, she was able to pick herself back up and not let it break her spirit. It was very reminiscent of the recent Into the Spider-verse’s message and it was used beautifully in both movies.
But while the movie does a couple things quite well, the rest of it doesn’t entirely break new ground. There’s still the same humor beats and action beats that we generally get in most MCU movies. We also get one of the standard mentor played by Jude Law who ends up being the actual villain and had been using Carol Danvers from the start. We also have a nice unlikely partnership with Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury. Though it is worth mentioning that he basically plays a CGI character and the effects used to turn him into 90’s era Samuel L Jackson is the best tech used to date. There is just the slightest hint of something being off, but after a few brief moments, the oddness goes away and you forget that he’s not actually that young anymore. The movie also doesn’t really utilize the Skrull’s ability to look like anyone past the first third or so of the movie. There’s the fun moment shown in the trailer with the old woman on the bus, but really only a couple other important moments with Nick Fury catching onto the subversion.
There’s also the aspect of it being set in the 90’s which honestly only becomes a factor in a few brief jokes, like how she initially comes to Earth by crashing into a Blockbuster and gets electronics from a Radio Shack. Even the origin of Nick Fury’s eyepatch turns into basically a joke as his eye gets scratched out by the cat Goose who’s actually a semi-powerful alien creature. It also comes into play with the great 90’s era alternative rock soundtrack with great tracks from Nirvana, R.E.M, and even Elastica. We also get to see a few cameos from younger versions of characters that have played a part in the previous MCU like Agent Coulson as basically a junior member, and a couple villains from the first Guardians of the Galaxy with Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser and one of his henchmen played by Djimon Hounsou, here as one of Jude Law’s henchmen. And just to help tie things into the Infinity War and Endgame movies there’s the connection to the Tesseract and explanation of how Fury had it.
As the last MCU movie before the big Avengers Endgame we’re getting another origin story that’s loosely connected to the other movies, but mainly as a prequel rather than something current. It also introduces one of the most powerful heroes currently within the MCU and we get our first credits teaser with Captain Marvel answering Fury’s page and meeting with the rest of the living Avengers. All in all, it’s a nice piece of MCU fluff that fits right into the superhero lexicon and is a fine introduction for the first female led superhero movie from Marvel Studios. I just wish it had happened a dozen or so movies sooner. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.