First thing I want to say is: MCU fans, manage your expectations. Like every other Marvel movie, this was completely hyped, maybe more so than other standalone films. We all had high expectations because finally, we get to see Captain Marvel, the first female superhero from the franchise with a solo movie, and someone so strong that she could be the answer to Thanos.
In retrospect, I think the hype didn’t do it any favors. The timing, specifically, seems off as Gamespot noted. The last Avengers movie was just too epic, everyone’s on the edge of their seats trying to figure out what will happen next. Like the site pointed out, “There’s too much anticipation and dread right now to fully enjoy this heroic cul-de-sac.” It also astutely stressed that, “Right now, this movie is an obligatory addendum to the Avengers story, when it deserved to be an essential opening chapter.”
That said, I personally think that as a standalone, it’s really not as bad as some critics make it out to be. It’s different, sure, but I welcome the variety. It’s a full-on sci-fi movie executed with the sensibilities of indie directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
The film essentially explores the identity of Carol Danvers. She is initially introduced as Vers, a Kree operative under the tutelage of Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). We soon get to know her as a warrior with a rogue heart, who’s primarily conflicted with trying to remember her past. After a battle with the Skrulls, the Kree’s rival species known for their shapeshifting abilities, she gets stranded on 1990s Earth, known to them as planet C-53. During her stay in the planet, she begins to piece together her past, with help from a much younger Nick Fury, sans eye patch.
It’s action-packed, but maybe not as much as previous Marvel films. It has also retained the franchise’s trademark humor, though relatively muted. But it certainly has its moments. Here are some of the elements of the film I loved:
Many would argue the film largely rests on Brie’s shoulders. I can only imagine the kind of pressure she had to deal with to play the role, but I would say she perfectly portrayed it. I liked the direction they took, wherein she’s not trying to be cute, or sexy, or trying hard to earn anybody’s approval. She’s effortlessly cool–something you’d expect from a superhero of her magnitude. Her chemistry with Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury was great too.
The social commentary
With the film banking on the fact that it’s the first MCU standalone film focused on a female hero, which was also directed by a woman, female empowerment and equality was a heavily touched issue, as expected. There were plenty of powerful women in the movie: pilots, scientists, warriors, single moms. I especially loved the witty feminist quips, like that part when a man told Carol to smile more (mirroring what happened to Brie in real-life), and near the ending, when she showed she doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone.
You also can’t miss the metaphor relating to the immigration crisis happening in the US today. Without giving too much, they showed a vilified alien species who’s actually just desperately looking for a home. Sounds familiar?
Goose the cat
I am NOT a cat person, so this says a lot.
In the film, we see a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury (they did a good job, it was kinda freaky TBH). Apart from unearthing Captain Marvel’s past, we also discover Fury’s. I was convinced with the film’s explanation on how he got into SHIELD, and yes, how he got that eye patch. Not what you’d expect—that’s all I can say.
The film also delved into the Skrulls as a race. Though they have a presence in the other movies, Captain Marvel gives us deeper knowledge of the race. They actually played a huge role in the comics, including a storyline where they spent years impersonating many of the universe’s greatest heroes as part of a grand scheme. Gamespot noted, “With their introduction to the cinematic universe in Captain Marvel, there have been understandably huge amounts of speculation about who might be a secret Skrull—impersonating other characters to create plot twists is basically the Skrulls’ entire purpose over in the comics.” That’s certainly something to mull about
Oh and the post-credits scene? Worth the wait.
Art by Marian Hukom
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