Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Captain Marvel Review -- no spoilers

I literally just got home from seeing Captain Marvel about 30 minutes ago. Lucky me, my new work schedule has me only teaching morning classes, so I caught an afternoon show. And since I just saw it, this is going to be fairly impressionistic and subject to change upon a second, closer viewing.

Captain Marvel is of course the latest of the MCU films, and has direct ties to Iron Man 1, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and of course Avengers: Infinity War and the soon to be released Avengers: Endgame.

Since it's set in the 1990's, it's very much a Gen X film. Lots of popular songs from the era help set the mood, along with plenty of jokes about 90's tech (dial-up internet, video rentals, slow loading CD-ROM drives). It also uses the time period to place in some familiar characters - Agent Coulson (I guess he's still alive on Agents of Shield? I haven't watched it.), Ronan the Accuser, and Korath.

It's also very much a feminist movie, but it doesn't preach a feminist message. It shows for the most part rather than tells. It blows the Bechdel Test out of the water by having a movie with a strong female lead and there is absolutely NO romantic subplot. There are relationships galore with meaning and significance, but at no time during the film does Carol Danvers consider love/romance. Maybe it's because of the advanced Kree culture she's part of, where she's treated as a sentient being rather than as a love object. :) Other than some advice to her best friend's young daughter (and I bet that character, as an adult, will be returning in future films), there's not much talk of "girl power" either. It's just a film about a human being involved in, and central to, a plot with galaxy-wide implications. I can see a certain section of the Marvel fanbase having a love-hate relationship with this movie. Or just straight up hating it.

Next, it's an origin story of sorts, but it's also not an origin story. Captain Marvel has her powers at the start, and while there are flashbacks that show her origin, and they are important to the plot, the movie isn't about that. Marvel hasn't really done that since The Hulk (Ed Norton)...well, I guess Black Panther sort of did that too. Anyway, it's refreshing not to have this be another "bitten by radioactive spider/parents gunned down in Crime Alley" type plot.

On the down side, while the action scenes were good, there's a lot of snappy dialogue, and Sam Jackson is Sam Jackson, there wasn't much that was really amazing about the movie. It does take an interesting approach to the Kree-Skrull War, and it was entertaining. In the end, though, it's probably not going to go to the top of my list of MCU films the way Thor: Ragnarok did.

What it does do well is tie together some of the loose ends of the plot leading into Avengers: Endgame. Along with the above mentioned well-done feminist action movie thing and the Gen X/90's nostalgia.

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