So, we saw Captain Marvel over the weekend, and it was really quite enjoyable. As I’ve commented previously, ‘did I enjoy myself’ is the key metric I use these days, and it met that metric. The simply fact is that the movie, on the most accessible level, is a joy to watch. Especially for the de-aged Samuel L Jackson and Clark Gregg as Nick Fury and Agent Coulson, respectively. They seem to be actually having fun, especially Jackson, and just hamming it up because they can. They aren’t the hardened individuals we meet later, which is played to excellent comic effect.
Bree Larson is likewise enjoyable as the titular character. She is confident, smart, funny, sassy, and generally well suited for the role. The plot is decent, with enough background so that people who don’t know from the Kree are not lost, and the plot moves fairly well. There are some lulls, more on that below the fold.
I found it interesting that Danvers was never referred to as Captain Marvel. At all. There was a nicely handled Mar-Vell nod, but not as Captain anything. This is the first MCU movie I recall where no one is referred to as the titular character.
The opening Marvel montage is a tribute to Stan Lee, featuring his cameos and some other photos of him. It is touching and perfect. It was, frankly, an emotional moment. Stan shaped a lot of the stories of my youth, and he’s, really, the first celebrity passing where I felt something over it. I never got to meet him, but I really did – do – mourn his passing.
The cat, Goose (for Anthony Edward’s character in Top Gun), is neat, and the cat/Fury interaction is all it could be. I really liked the entire cat concept, especially the physical bits. Well conceived and written.
This is another success for the Marvel machine. A fun, enjoyable, movie that delivers where and when it needs to. I had fun, and would watch it again without hesitation.
While no movie is perfect, this one has some unforced errors, and major, massive, changes from the general comics universe.
Let’s start there. In the comics, the Skrulls were a serious threat – possessed of an empire, and a long-time (million years or so) rival to the Kree. They were not a band of terrorists, and most certainly not just looking for a home to hide from the evil Kree. Stop Skrull erasure! Seriously, this changes literally everything about them as it has been shown in the comics. And that is the MCU’s right. It is a jarring thing, however, for those who know more about the Kree/Skrull conflicts.
The Kree are still evil bastards, as shown in Guardians of the Galaxy. In fact, Lee Pace is back as a younger Ronan the Accuser, and he looks completely different – thinner in the face.
A final major change in the Skrulls is Talos. Played by Ben Mendelsohn to perfection, Talos is a skilled shapeshifter…which in the comics he isn’t. He is, in fact, a mutant among the Skrull, to not be able to shapeshift. Which I admit I didn’t know before looking it up. It’s a huge shift for the character, if not a universe-changer like the nigh extinct Skrulls.
Captain Marvel / Carol Danvers needed an arc
But then there is the big issue. Carol Danvers has no arc. At all. She starts out overconfident and sassy, and remains exactly as overconfident and sassy throughout. She never changes from that default. Not really. Yes, there are a few scenes of self doubt, but they are scenes, not arcs. There is no development.
They try. They do try. And that almost makes it worse. When you have a character who starts out as a self-confident, self-reliant individual, and they never lose those traits, plastering on a ‘believe in yourself’ moment doesn’t work. Her only ‘development’ is to gain full access to her powers, and her memory restored. Neither of which changes her character traits in the least.
This isn’t a hero’s journey. Sadly, this is almost fan-fic level scripting, at least as far as Carol is concerned. What’s worse is that where do you go from that? She doesn’t have anywhere to develop to, she is already there. She is all super, no human.
Why this movie, why not something else?
The only issue I had with the existence of Captain Marvel was that it got far too close to Shadows of the Empire-level needless backstory. For those who came in late, SoE was a canon project from Lucasfilm to answer the burning question plaguing the mid-90s Star Wars fandom…
Where DID Leia get Boushh’s outfit?
Really. It was a novel, comic mini-series, and video game, all to answer that one question.
Anyway, Captain Marvel was almost that needless. The question being answered here is ‘how did SHIELD get the Tesseract/Space Infinity Stone’. That answer is in Captain America. Odin placed it on Earth, the Red Skull stole it to power Hydra super-weapons, and Howard Stark recovered it while searching for Captain America. Since Stark founded SHIELD, that would explain how they were in possession of it for Loki to steal. We didn’t need a movie explaining that it was somehow no longer in Stark Enterprises or SHIELD’s possession, and needing finding.
I know that others might feel this is an important question to answer. I simply have to disagree. While it doesn’t hurt the movie, it does just add another question to ask about the decision process. Change that plot element, and it doesn’t hurt the property any. It may, in fact, improve it.
I do recall that there was not a call for a Captain Marvel movie, while there was one for a Black Widow movie (which is in the works). That is the last question to ponder – when you have a great character that the fandom wants to see in a solo project, why bring in a new character who isn’t familiar to the MCU fandom (or not as familiar)? I understand that needing someone with cosmic power to use in Avengers Endgame was some of the reason. I get that. I guess I just wish that this hadn’t been the first female-led MCU title. Black Widow deserved better.
And finally, Nick Fury’s eye. That was weak, Marvel. Very weak. Fury deserved better than to lose the eye to a cat/firkin.
It is worth repeating that despite the issue above, I did enjoy this, and will see it again. You should check Captain Marvel out, you’ll be glad you did.