Marvel Studios and Disney have done a reversal and re-hired James Gunn to direct Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
Gunn was fired in July 2018 after controversial tweets were unearthed by alt-rightwing trolls who then flooded Disney with complaints. Gunn is a vocal critic of Trump and the “attack” was believed to be payback for that.
According to Deadline, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn met with Gunn multiple times to discuss the situation and Gunn took immediate responsibility for his Tweets. It was Horn who decided to reverse the decision.
During his firing, Gunn has signed up to write and direct Suicide Squad 2 for Warner Bros. and DC Comics. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 will begin production after that film.
Also according to Deadline, Marvel Studios never met with or considered any other director. Many spoke publicly how they wouldn’t take the job if offered and the cast has spoken out in support of Gunn.
Gunn shared the below Tweet in response:
A script was written for the film before Gunn’s firing and statements were made by Marvel Studios they would have still used that script.
With the first two films grossing over $1.6 billion it’s not too surprising that Disney changed their mind, in the end money rules all.
It’s also another blow to the rightwing Incel/MRA community who also failed to slow the progress of Captain Marvel which had a record setting opening and is likely to cross $1 billion worldwide.
Captain Marvel merits a conversation that can celebrate it’s feminism and anti-Imperialist themes while criticizing its Air Force propaganda packaging. Queer subtext? 90s throwbacks? We’ve got you covered:
“Top Gun is why I almost enlisted, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is why I didn’t”
The meaning of Nick Fury’s Eye
Carol and Maria holding the “gayz”
FeliciaPerezis the Innovation Director at the Center for Story-based Strategy. She previously worked at the United Workers Congress, ACLU of Southern California & was a high school social studies for twelve years in the Los Angeles Unified School District where she was also an active union leader and chapter chair for United Teachers of Los Angeles.
Tea Fougner is the Editorial Director for Comics at King Features Syndicate. When she’s not reading comics for work, she’s reading comics for fun, drawing comics, dressing up as comic book characters, or watching comic adaptations on television. Tea is at @TeaberryBlue on everything.
Publisher: Titan Hardcover, FC, 96pp, $19.99 On sale: March 12, 2019 ISBN: 9781785868115
A behind-the-scenes guide to Captain Marvel, featuring exclusive interviews from the cast and crew, incredible photos from the set, and much more! Dive into the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this deluxe collector’s edition: Airforce ace Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war.
How many millions will Captain Marvel earn in its first weekend has been a big question. And, based on Thursday numbers, the film should have a monster weekend.
The film earned a reported $20.7 million on Thursday night. Previous earnings include Avengers: Infinity War ($39 million), The Dark Knight Rises ($30.1 million), Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice ($27.7 million), Avengers: Age of Ultron ($27.6 million), Black Panther ($25.2 million), and Captain America: Civil War ($25 million), not adjusted for inflation.
That’s the second highest amount for a movie featuring a new solo character, the fifth highest for a Marvel Cinematic Universe film and second-largest in march.
Wonder Woman earned $11 million to go on and earn $103 million over its domestic launch.
Captain Marvel looks to be earning somewhere between $125 million and $145 million though some feel it can cross $150 million.
The film also opens in every major market other than Japan. It’s expected to have earned over $300 million worldwide by the time the weekend is over. It has earned $44 million in its first two days which doesn’t include China’s estimated $34 million on opening day. That amount is the second highest for a MCU film.
There’s a movie coming out in March 2019 that you may have heard about. Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson as the titular superhero, is an origin story for the character prior to her appearance in the next Avengers movie. As the second high profile female led solo superhero movie of the modern era, this is a film that has a lot of potential to bring in those previously unfamiliar with the character and the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself (more on this later). The first question to answer is a simple one…
Who is Captain Marvel?
That’s an interesting question, with no real easy answer. There have been numerous characters using that name over the past seventy years, one of whom was created by Fawcett Comics as a Superman analogue which is now owned by DC. You may have seen a trailer for Shazam starring Zachary Levi, the current name the character has taken to avoid a lawsuit with Marvel Comics who got the copyright for the term in the 1960s despite the character predating Marvel’s first Captain Marvel.
That’s right. Marvel’s first Captain Marvel.
You see the character appearing in the movie isn’t the first, or second, person to wear the mantle. She’s the seventh. Yup. Carol Danvers has a lot more history than you would expect, but before we get to her, let’s take a look at the other six Captain Marvels from Marvel Comics (there is a very good chance that some of these will be included in the movie, even if just a wink and a nod).
Captain Marvel: Mar-Vell
First appearing in the 1960’s, Captain Marvel was created by, who else, Stan Lee and designed Gene Colan, taking advantage of the lapsed “Captain Marvel” trademark from the Fawcett/DC character. This Captain Marvel was from a fiction alien race called the Kree, whose real name was Mar-Vell. The character became a member of the superhero teams the Defenders and the Avengers, before eventually succumbing to cancer in the 1980’s. Significantly, this is a death that has never been permanently undone (a rare occurrence in comics), though his ghost has made a few appearances. Mar-Vell briefly returned to life twice in the 2010’s sacrificing himself to save lives both times. Mar-Vell makes a surprise appearance in the Captain Marvel film.
Captain Marvel: Monica Rambeau
Debuting in 1982, Monica Rambeau is a former New Orleans police officer who, upon developing super powers in an accident, used the moniker to fight crime until ceding the name to her successor and took on the name Photon. As of this writing, she is still alive and goes by the name Spectrum.
In the film Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau is played by Akira Akbar.
Captain Marvel: Genis-Vell
Originally appearing in 1996 as Legacy, Genis-Vell is the son of the original Captain Marvel conceived through genetic engineering with DNA samples of Mar-Vell and his lover and artificially aged to maturity. Look, it’s comics. Not everything makes sense, but the Powers That Be probably wanted a biological link to the original character. Genis-Vell eventually turns insane and threatens to destroy the universe. He is currently dead, having been killed in 2006.
Captain Marvel: Phyla-Vell
Genis-Vell’s younger sister was created in 2004 in a very convoluted and confusing way (because it’s comics). She fights with her brother during his period of insanity, restoring his mind in the process. At some point she adopts the name Martyr and joins the Guardians of the Galaxy before sacrificing herself for them in 2010.
Captain Marvel: Khn’nr
A sleeper agent of an alien race, the Skrulls, who are the enemies of the Kree. He was brainwashed into believing he was Mar-Vell and subsequently dies shortly after he is introduced in in 2007. Not really worth including here.
Captain Marvel: Noh-Varr
First appearing in Marvel Boy #1 in 2000, we have Noh-Varr, another Kree soldier and crew member of the space craft The Marvel which is shot down and brought to Earth with only one survivor. Noh-Varr eventually joins a (secretly) evil team of Avengers where he takes on the Captain Marvel mantle in 2009. Upon discovering the true nature of the team he leaves and becomes The Protector.
Captain Marvel: Carol Danvers
Finally. Carol Danvers. The current Captain Marvel took up the mantle in 2012, but first appeared as a colleague of Mar-Vell in Marvel Super-Heroes #13, published in1968. After her DNA was fused with Mar-Vell’s in an explosion, she became the first Ms. Marvel in 1977 after she developed superhuman strength, flight, stamina, durability and endurance. Carol Danvers has had a long history, often intertwined with the Avengers, the X-Men and sometimes Spider-Man. But it hasn’t been without its controversies; in an issue of Avengers dated 1980, she was kidnapped, brainwashed and married off to a villain, subsequently giving birth to his child. It was, and remains, a gross abuse of the character. In 1981, Chris Claremont took aim at those who allowed this to happen during Avengers Annual #10, and in a scathing sequence had Ms. Marvel rage at both her teammates and also the Marvel editorial that allowed the story to happen. And then he turned Carol Danvers into one of Marvel’s most powerful and interesting characters by telling some fantastic stories, taking the character to incredible heights. He also took her to some pretty devastating lows, such as when the X-Man Rogue stole her powers and memories (the memories were later restored by Professor X).
Carol Danvers became Binary in the early 80’s, when she was able to draw on the power of a cosmic phenomenon called a white hole (a reverse of a black hole) which in addition her Ms. Marvel power basically turned her into a godlike being (she was able to manipulate and absorb various types of energy and travel beyond light speed). Although it never happened, had she gone toe to toe with Superman at this time, I’d have put money on Carol Danvers. Her tenure as Binary lasted for around a decade, when the source of her powers was cut off, severely limiting her Binary abilities. With her cosmic powers gone, Danvers took up the name Warbird when her life would once again take a darker tale as she found solace in alcohol as the loss of her powers and memories caught up to her.
The early 2000’s saw an increased use of Carol Danvers as she featured prominently in several high profile crossover stories, leading the comic book commentary magazine Wizard to label her “[Marvel’s] premier heroine”. Which bring us to 2012, the year that Carol Danvers accepts the Captain Marvel name. In the past six years Captain Marvel has spent time grounded in New York City, has had adventures in space alone and as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and currently serves as the commander of Alpha Flight, the team that protects Earth from all the nasties in space.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)
Oh boy. Where to start? There have been a lot of movies released under the Marvel Cinematic Universe brand (a complete and continuously updated list can be found here), and doubtless you have heard about one or two of them. But do you need to see any of them prior to seeing Captain Marvel? Well technically yes if you’re looking at things chronologically: Captain America: The First Avenger. But that’s honestly it if you want to know what happened before the movie and while not necessary, it does provide a bit more information about certain plot points in the film.
However, Captain Marvel does have a character that longtime viewers of the MCU will be familiar with; Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury, the future Director of the global peacekeeping entity SH.I.E.L.D., who has been involved in numerous movies thus far in the franchise. None of that is relevant for Captain Marvel as Fury is still a young agent when he meets Carol Danvers, so while some will find it interesting to see where Fury began, where he ends won’t be a major plot point. That’s not to say the writers won’t throw in a wink to Fury’s future, however.
Comic Book Recommendations
I lied earlier. I have only one recommendation for you if you want to read some Captain Marvel:The Life Of Captain Marvel. The book is a retelling of her origin, and by all accounts is remarkably good.
No matter how you feel about Captain Marvel, (I personally liked it very much, thank you!) you have to respect its soundtrack. As a child of the 80’s and an adolescent of the 90’s, this took some of the best of my high school years and put it up on screen beside a character from some of my favorite comics of the same time. Of course, she had a slightly different costume then. . .
But it was the 90’s! Everything was a little weird. Back then everyone wanted Jennifer Aniston’s haircut from Friends for some reason, acceptable fashion included overalls or flannel, we played with pogs, Pokemon, connecting to the internet made a weird noise, and we impeached presidents for basically nothing!
Times have changed, but that soundtrack from Captain Marvel lives on. This is a mixtape Meredith Quill would be proud of. It’s a mixtape I would’ve listened to. And hearing from some of our other Graphic Policy writers, people are really into it. For instance:
Can I just say how glad I am that there’s a movie that acknowledges that women love rock music? It seems like the discourse has floated so far to the “all those years I was just pretending to like rock to keep my boyfriend from complaining but now I’m free and just want to listen to Taylor Swift” type narrative. I’m sure that’s true for a lot of women and I’m happy they can feel free to embrace their love of dreck now. But a lot of us just genuinely love rock music. I liked seeing that on screen.
AGREED. 100%. This soundtrack is grounded in great 90’s rock and alternative, but it’s also got this great energy that comes into it from the inclusion of some soulful r&b. But Carol Danvers is a rocker. And despite maybe a few of the songs being a bit on the nose, it’s overall incredibly enjoyable.
But, because we just can’t get enough here, scroll to the bottom to find a Spotify playlist where I’m also adding my own list of 90’s songs “fit” with Captain Marvel (sort of, at least in my logic) as well as a special list of songs from other 90’s soundtracks that belong on this soundtrack because omg it’s meta-inception.
But beware, dear reader, I warn you that reading this article may spoil some of the best surprises of the film. It’s not that the songs themselves are spoilers in any way, but that how they get used and their reveal in the film is so beautiful, you may want to go into your first viewing not knowing. In searching for songs they may have used in the soundtrack, there was only one that I found confirmed on a website, but I almost wish I hadn’t known because the reveal was so good. But, if you want to read further, here’s your giant[SPOILER ALERT!!!]
I’ll do these in the order they appear in the film:
Heart – Crazy On You
Technically not a 90’s song, but when they flash back to Carol Danvers’ past, there is literally no better song than an anthem like this from the First Ladies of Rock, Ann and Nancy Wilson.
Lita Ford – Kiss Me Deadly
Here’s another unconventional choice (and another holdover from 80’s hair metal), but given the context (a brief flash of karaoke) this totally makes sense. Uh huh, it ain’t no big thing. But I know what I like. . .
Salt N Pepa ft. En Vogue – Whatta Man
While Deadpool got to “Shoop” first, this is the real deal. I wasn’t even really into rap or r&b in the early 90’s, but I still loved this song. Still do. Whatta song. Whatta video. Whatta collaboration.
Elastica – Connection
Confession time: from the moment this song ended up in a trailer, I was 99% sold on Captain Marvel as a 90’s period piece, even moreso than the Blockbuster Video or other easter eggs. This song was everything that a slightly depressed teenage me wanted circa 1995.
Garbage – Only Happy When It Rains
Did I mentioned what slightly depressed me in 1995 loved to listen to? This album didn’t leave my 5-disc cd changer for a year. (See kids, back in the day, music came on compact discs. . .) Literally any track from the first two Garbage albums would’ve been perfect in this movie. Seriously. Any of them. My pick would’ve been “Vow,” but going with the iconic, radio-friendly song isn’t so bad. Also, I may have had a crush on comic book Carol Danvers in the mid-90’s, but I was madly in love with Shirley Manson. Plus Butch Vig, the keystone of 90’s grunge. I’m riding high on a deep depression. Pour some misery down on me.
TLC – Waterfalls
And then sometimes you just had to chill out. This song has hooks for days, and the rap breakdown by Left Eye remains amazing. Again, even as someone who wasn’t that much into r&b/rap, this song was ubiquitous. And that wasn’t a bad thing.
Des’ree – You Gotta Be
This is not a song in a million years I would’ve thought to put in this movie. And so it’s a good thing I wasn’t in charge of the soundtrack, because the lyrics to this pretty much tell the lesson of the second half of this movie. This is now my favorite.
Nirvana – Come As You Are
Again, not the Nirvana song I would’ve picked for this soundtrack (“Been a Son” seems actually more apt, especially to address the throngs of fragile manbabies triggered by the idea of a female superhero– she should’ve been a son. Get it?) but but but this song more than any other is used so effectively to set a very specific mood that it is a gamechanger. Literally, after this song played, I didn’t have any more gripes about the movie after that. It took it to a next level. Which leads me to. . .
No Doubt – Just a Girl
I’d complain this song is a little too on the nose, especially for the scene it’s used in, but it’s just so infectious and perfect. It’s a move I would’ve made if I was making the movie. I was tickled. True story: I saw No Doubt play in a converted airplane hangar in Orem, Utah in 1994 when they were just part of the local/regional ska scene. I was jarred, but not surprised, when they broke through with this poppy crossover. And here I sit snuggling my Dance Hall Crashers cds wondering why they didn’t break out (there’s some of them on the Spotify playlist below),
R.E.M. – Man on the Moon
Now Andy did you hear about this one? Yeah yeah yeah yeah. While REM was certainly everywhere at this point in the 90’s, this one may have been a little on the nose. And there’s so many others to pull from this album or Monster or (bold choice) New Adventures in Hi-Fi. Again, the soundtrack makes the safer choice of the more mainstream and ubiquitous song, and that’s fine. At least it wasn’t Shiny Happy People?
The Marvelettes – Please Mr. Postman
Do you count this as being in the soundtrack if we just got Sam Jackson singing a few bars of it? I do. I most certainly do. Also, this has nothing to do with the 90’s or the rest of the movie. I love how left-field it is. And is that how she gets her name? Ironically, if Carol Danvers tries to explain it to everyone, old man Steve Rogers still won’t get it. . . unless he ever got past that “Troubleman” album. Or if he was on Vine, which was how my kids knew it:
Hole – Celebrity Skin
Ok, confession time. I don’t like Courtney Love. I probably never will. But if you’re going to choose a Hole song, get Malibu or Bruise Violet. Ok, fine, fine, I concede that Celebrity Skin is actually pretty good and a fair choice to play over the closing credits. It’s fine, it’s great actually, I just have to get rid of my distaste for Hole.
And so that’s it! If you want more, I’ve made a Spotify playlist with these dozen songs as well as a bunch more. I will take the blame for anything you hate, but whatever you love on the playlist know that it was carefully curated from among a bunch of our Graphic Policy writers.
What’s in it? A lot more rock/alternative, especially skewing towards female artists (Liz Phair, The Breeders, Veruca Salt), a bunch of Riot Grrl stuff, a little more hip hop, and because it’s a tragedy she wears a Nine Inch Nails shirt the whole time and never listens to NIN, we have some of that. And starting with track 50, the last songs are very special songs from other soundtracks because the 90’s was full of great movie soundtracks. So, so meta.
What did we miss? Hop in the comments and tell us. Maybe we’ll even add it to the playlist!
Note: No songs from any of the Batman soundtracks because I’m not mixing Marvel and DC. Nope. (Even though “Trust” by Prince is amazing. So is “Partyman.” But still nope.) And also no Space Jame because ewwwww even small proximity to R. Kelly. . . NOPE.
Foo Fighters – Breakout – Me, Myself and Irene Sneaker Pimps – Six Underground – The Saint Coolio – Gangsta’s Paradise – Dangerous Minds Green Day – J.A.R. – Angus The Crystal Method – The Name of the Game (ok, bending the rules here as this was from 2001, but it still sounds super 90’s and was in another Marvel movie and I can’t resist) – Blade II Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You – Empire Records Daft Punk – Da Funk – The Saint Dr. Dre – Keep Their Heads Ringin’ – Friday Nine Inch Nails – Dead Souls – The Crow Dance Hall Crashers – Enough – Angus (what is this Angus movie and how did it have such a great soundtrack?!?) Metric – Black Sheep (Ok, REALLY breaking the rules here, but if you don’t get the joke, I’m not going to explain it) Guns n Roses – You Could Be Mine – Terminator 2 Nine Inch Nails – The Perfect Drug – Lost Highway Filter – Hey Man, Nice Shot – The Cable Guy The Cardigans – Lovefool – Romeo+Juliet Chris Cornell – Seasons – Singles
Captain Marvel isn’t here for your sexist bullshit. In fact, the latest addition to the MCU gives absolutely zero f@#ks about your agenda or preconceptions as it just unleashes its first Omega-level hero on an unsuspecting and unprepared world. While the script and directing are a little clunkier than other recent MCU masterpieces, I don’t think Ms. Carol Danvers would want us ranking her or pitting her against her fellow heroes. And any problems with the pacing of the first act are more than made up for with a hugely satisfying, explosive finale.
Here’s the deal, geeks– we’re spoiled rotten with the likes of Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok . When something doesn’t quite measure up to those levels, it’s easy to dismiss or criticize. While I have a lot of measured criticisms of the film’s pacing and action choices, the best thing we can learn from Captain Marvel is she’s not here for your approval. She’s not here to smile at you. She’s not here to be compared to your other films and heroes. She’s here to kick ass and save the world. And that’s about it.
But as a film critic, critique I must, but making sure we don’t fall prey to easy sexist traps that have largely infected a lot of mainstream publications’ reviews of this. I’m especially looking at both right wing rags like the National Review and a lot of the (fragile)-white-male-dominated online geek press. Let’s get over ourselves and just enjoy this movie, because (shocking, I know!) not everything needs to be made for us.
Our titular hero (Brie Larson) begins the film as a warrior for the Kree Imperium with the codename Vers and a case of terrible amnesia that she can’t remember anything before six years ago. Alongside Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and a team of Kree elite commandos, they are engaged in a long-term war against the Skrulls, a race of shape-shifting aliens. When she encounters Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), a Skrull leader, she begins to have strange flashbacks leading her to believe she had a life on Earth. where she then finds herself stranded in 1995 Los Angeles. She teams up with a young SHIELD agent named Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to stop the Skrull infiltration of Earth. Or so it would seem. . . as the shape-shifting abilities of the Skrulls and their conflict with the Kree are much wider than we thought, and this bleeds into major pieces of the broader MCU.
Fans are going to get a lot of service here, which is one of the main problems with any sort of prequel: the need to explain how everything came to be. The movie keeps poking and prodding at the broader universe, including multiple gags where they seem to be joking “Oh, so that’s how Nick Fury lost his eye.” It’s similar to the old episode of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Lawwhere they explain the origin of Stephen Colbert’s Phil Ken Sebben and his iconic eyepatch injury where for several minutes straight he’s pointing sharp objects at his eye. We get the joke.
But the fanservice that does work is the tie-in to the broader MCU. No spoilers, but the payoff by the end, once we know what is actually happening? It’s like finding that one puzzle piece which reveals what the larger section is all about. It should go without saying, but remember to stick around through the credits for both a mid-credits scene that directly ties into Avengers: Endgame and a post-credits scene that bridges Captain Marvel to the events of The Avengers.
Oh, and Stan Lee. The opening for the film and its iconic Marvel comics image flip has been replaced entirely with Stan’s cameos, and a small dedication of the film to Stan the Man himself. This film also contains one of the most interesting Stan Lee cameos ever. It’s a little mindbending and I’m going to need time to wrap my head around it completely.
But perhaps what’s most surprising is the underlying meaning the film brings. Brie Larson’s cold, dispassionate delivery and demeanor makes it harder to connect with our hero, but that is entirely the point. This is what we tell women to do to succeed in a man’s world: don’t be emotional. Be sexy and available, but not too much or you’re a slut. But especially as a member of the Kree Starforce, she’s told to act without emotion. This is what war does to our soldiers. This is what war does to us.
The saying goes that the first casualty in war is the truth. And so we are challenged by this film to confront some uncomfortable truths about the stories we tell ourselves about war and ourselves as warriors. The overwhelming feeling I’m left with is this: maybe the United States of America are the Kree. Maybe we’re animated by hatred and xenophobia more than we’d like to admit. Maybe we empower genocidal maniacs (like a too-briefly appearing Ronan the Accuser) through our war-mongering.
And what snaps our hero out of it? Learning her human past. Reconnecting with her best friend and flight partner Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), the real secret weapon of this film. Rambeau shows us — and Carol — that she can be maternal and nurturing while also being a badass hero in her own right. It’s the quieter moments in Captain Marvel that work the best, which is maybe why we don’t give it the praise it deserves. Everything we’re criticizing the film for is actually a criticism of what patriarchy and war do to women, do to us. Maybe we should focus less on comparisons to Thor: Ragnarok and focus more on what the deliberate choices the filmmakers made in the first half of the film as a mirror of everything that’s wrong with us.
And then there’s that 90’s soundtrack. As a child of the 80’s and an adolescent of the 90’s (Go Team Xennial!!) there is nothing more precious to me than bands like Garbage, REM, and Nine Inch Nails that put me right back in that time and place. There’s also a surprising amount of pop R&B for a nice counterbalance. Watch for an article about the soundtrack coming soon, but beware– while some of the songs are not spoilers, per se, I think you miss out on the nice reaveals of a couple of them, especially a late scene with the Kree Supreme Intelligence and a climactic battle scene set to a specifically iconic mid 90’s bop that is going to drive the haters absolutely mad.
Speaking of? Haters– die mad about all of it. Take your lame attempts to tank the Rotten Tomatoes score and go die in a fire. Captain Marvel is definitely worth seeing, seeing on a giant screen with an amazing sound system that really lets you feel the groove of Elastica’s “Connection.” So go do it, and don’t let reservations that “Oh, but it’s not as good as Black Panther” worry you. Did that keep people from seeing Aquaman? Stick around for the finale– and maybe let Carol Danvers’ words resonate with you as she emancipates herself from Kree control and directly gives a giant middle finger to toxic masculinity that could’ve come out of the pages of a Riot Grrrl alt-weekly.
I can’t wait for Carol Danvers to show up in Endgame. She’s going to save everyone. ‘Nuff said.
Fandango has reported that Captain Marvel is currently the biggest advance ticket seller since Avengers: Infinity War at the same point in the sales cycle. Opening in theaters this Friday, the newest installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is pacing to surpass Fandango presales for any other movie since the release of Infinity War in April 2018.
According to Fandango’s survey of over 1,000 moviegoers:
98% are looking forward to seeing how “Captain Marvel” connects to the ongoing “Avengers” storyline
92% are looking forward to the movie’s ‘90s setting.
81% are excited about seeing “Captain Marvel” because they hope it will provide more answers to “Infinity War” before seeing “Endgame.”
75% are looking forward to seeing the “de-aging” process used on Samuel L. Jackson to portray a younger Nick Fury and on Clark Gregg as rookie Agent Coulson.
The first sure to be blockbuster of the year, Marvel‘s Captain Marvel is an entertaining film that never quite reaches its full potential. Based on the comics character, Captain Marvel is a new take on the classic character of Carol Danvers. Here, she’s a Kree warrior, part of their Starforce, doing battle with Skrulls, a race of shapeshifting aliens who infiltrate societies before destroying them.
The film is an interesting one that even as I write this, I’m still trying to digest and process. There’s lots of good. There’s lots of bad. And a whole lot of middle ho-hum. In the growing library of Marvel films, it’s somewhere in the middle as far as quality.
The film acts as a prequel in a way, taking place in the 90s and introducing the character of Carol Danvers who we haven’t seen up to this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film feels like a piece of the bigger puzzle, never quite standing on its own, and at times stretching for winks and nods to make the fans happy.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck with a “story by” and “screenplay by” Boden and Fleck (Meg LeFauve and Nicole Perlman get “story by” credits and Geneva Robertson-Dworet gets “story by” and “screenplay by” credits) the movie has a lot going for it but also has some misfires as well.
Breaking from the usual narrative structure, the film is one of discovery where the “hero” attempts to figure out their “human side” as opposed the regular schmo discovering they’re a hero. With lots of action sequences, the film is Carol, played by Brie Larson, attempting to discover her past and stop the Skrulls.
Larson has the interesting task of playing a human trained by the Kree, an emotionless warrior race focused on logic. Warrior Vulcans in a way. That results in a character who doesn’t smile and doesn’t have the usual emotional latching on points we’ve seen as part of Marvel’s formula. Instead that role is given to Samuel L. Jackson‘s Nick Fury who becomes Danvers’ partner in crime as she attempts to complete her mission and discovers there’s so much to it and her. In this role reversal, the hero is the “straightman” with the sidekick the joker.
And that’s one of the interesting aspect of the film, it’s focus on Larson’s Danvers being “too emotional.” Part of the undeserved hate against the film is Larson’s lack of smiling in promotional material. She’s not supposed to, she’s Kree, they don’t show emotion. And that aspect brings out the film’s underlying theme of toxic masculinity and how women are treated in society. We see through flashbacks and other scenes Danvers is held back and told to not be emotional. One can just look at the reaction to female politicians to see there’s messed up societal standards when it comes to that.
The film, in many ways, feels like a woman attempting to break free from expectations. She’s also told this growing up. She’s trained to use logic over emotion. Not letting emotion get the better of her. And then eventually, saying screw that to unleash her inner awesome that she’s bottled up. It’s a middle finger to the “traditional norms” that today are being confronted in so many ways.
And that as a viewer had me experience something I haven’t before, trouble connecting with the hero. As a straight, white, man, I’ve never had someone tell me not to be emotional (beyond not crying) or I couldn’t do something due to my gender (I have had that due to my height but then I’d just get angry and go off, so once again, emotional for guys is totally ok apparently) so to see Carol being told over and over to not be angry or she couldn’t do something because she’s a woman, it’s an experience I’ve never had. And it made it hard to connect and enjoy her journey. I have no doubt that many others who will see this film will be able to relate to her experiences and will enjoy the film in a whole other way than me (this is also a good thing, not everything she be geared towards my demographic).
But, that disconnect between myself and the main character, the lack of quips of the hero, made me rely on the action for enjoyment and there the film is all over.
The direction of Boden and Fleck is too choppy at times relying on quick camera cuts making it difficult to follow exactly what’s going on. It’s not until the big CGI finale does the camera slow down, allowing the audiences to take in more of the action and enjoy it. Early fights are difficult to tell exactly what’s happening and it’s hard to tell if this is by choice or due to the difficulty of the setting. It’s most prevelant in a scene taking place on the metro.
The film also lacks the “f@#k yeah” moment until 3/4 of the way in. It’s a long wait for the hero to really come forward and show her inner awesome. It’s also a complete change from previous Marvel films which feel like they’re almost built to show off the character’s abilities in set time frames in a set narrative beat. The lack of that for most of the film is a change which honestly I’m still not completely used to. Compare this to Wonder Woman which gives us the beat on the beach, No Man’s Land, and the end of the film. It’s a different type of narrative that stands out from the at this point rather formulaic Marvel method.
The film being a prequel helps and hurts it. It uses that to get long time Marvel fans interested with the inclusion of Fury (how did he lose the eye!?) and Clark Gregg‘s Coulson. Reveals are a plenty tying the film in nicely to the Marvel Cinematic Universe but at times these reveals feel forced and a bit unnatural. Also, some of those reveals don’t feel like much as far as payoffs.
The supporting cast is other really good or rather wasted. Ben Mendelsohn as Talos steals the show with a fantastic performance (though Skrulls with British accents are weird, don’t know why). Jude Law as Yon-Rogg plays an emotionless Kree well and unintentionally adds a “good” moment when he gets his considering his not great past with women.
While Djimon Hounsou as Korath has much more screen time than he did in Guardians of the Galaxy his inclusion is still a bit head-scratching. Lee Pace as Ronan feels like he’s only included to tie the film into what has come before. Annette Bening‘s role is an interesting one and the less said the better but… I want more Annette Bening.
The rest of Starforce are solid with Gemma Chan as Minn -Erva really standing out. Lashanna Lynch as Maria Rambeau brings a lot of heart to the film and we better see more of Akira Akbar who plays her daughter. That combination had me excited for what could come.
The film is an interesting one and its themes and the topics it touches upon are ones that can be debated for some time. Beyond the toxic masculinity, there’s the obvious look at the war machine and deeper concepts whose discussion would spoil parts of the film.
There’s a lot done right here and in many ways breaks the Marvel mold and formula. It’s a film I have no doubt will have an audience that will celebrate it and enjoy it and even before opening has its haters. I’m somewhere in between. I can appreciate what it does and attempts to do and also see its flaws. I also recognize not all films are for me and this could be one of them.