“Captain Marvel” came out last weekend. I have some thoughts…
Combo plate — Carol Danvers seems written to be 40% Captain America and 60% Tony Stark. She has Cap’s sense of duty and service which motivates her every act but almost all her lines could have just as easily come out of the Iron Man mask. She has Stark’s snark and irreverence but at no point is she anything but self-assured about the right choice of action based on her well-developed moral compass. Similar to the way Rogers became disillusioned with those he once served, Danvers realizes about two-thirds of the way through the movie that she’s on the wrong side. While not too far off from how she’s been written in the most recent Captain Marvel books, I wonder if this choice is a conscious effort to keep the elements of these two characters around as the MCU transitions into Phase 4.
No MCU, no problem — Sort of like “Captain America: The First Avenger” and the first Iron Man movie, you don’t need to know much about the MCU to enjoy this film. Since it happens fifty years after CA:TFA and about fifteen years before Tony builds his first iron suit, it’s the rare Marvel outing that’s easy to slip into. Also, it’s the best film so far to weave the cosmic elements of the MCU with those that are Earth-bound.
Loved the Flerken — Wasn’t as jazzed about it being how Fury lost his eye, but Fury using it as he did with Cap in Winter Soldier is classic MCU Fury (see also, Fury’s use of Coulson’s bloody Captain America trading cards in the first Avengers film).
Speaking of Coulson (even if only parenthetically) — It’s a shame the feature film side of the MCU has never found a way to get the TV MCU Coulson back into the movies. He’s such a great character and they are supposed to be the same universe, after all. Also, as much as I like Coulson, I don’t feel like he was super well-utilized here. But it was nice seeing him.
Speaking of Fury (as I was point before last) — Samuel L. Jackson is 70 years old. Seventy. Years. Old. How is this possible?
Stoned — If you’re counting (and I am), the Infinity Stones have provided four MCU superheroes with their powers. The Mind Stone gave Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver (RIP), and the Vision their abilities and the Tesseract, containing the Space Stone, is responsible for turning Carol Danvers into Captain America. I did not expect to see the MCU’s favorite McGuffin in this movie, but also wasn’t surprised when it showed up.
Provenance — Speaking of the Tesseract, there is now a hole in its chain of possession in the MCU. Red Skull took it from the Norwegians (after Odin, I guess, lost it there?) and then Howard Stark fished it out of the depths after Red Skull ill-advisedly grabbed it while hot. We were left to presume S.H.I.E.L.D. had it until Loki nabbed it in “The Avengers,” but no. At some point, Mar Vell absconded it up to her cloaked spaceship parked above Earth. How? When? And if her “light speed” ship was powered by it (as were all the Hydra weapons in CA:TFA), was S.H.I.E.L.D. doing any other experiments with Tesseract-powered tech? Many questions we will likely never know the answer to.
Holes — Speaking of that “light speed” engine…what? It’s been established that space ships in the MCU don’t travel faster than light, they jump through some kind of wormhole/star gate network. So why bother with an FTL engine? What would that get you the jumping method wouldn’t? Why would the ability to go faster than light be the one thing the Skrull need to find a home of their own? Unless the wormhole/star gate system has its limits and they were hoping to fly beyond them…?
Power exchange — Debating who the most powerful hero in the MCU is used to be a fun game, but not anymore (it was the Vision, BTW). Captain Marvel is so clearly and easily the most powerful that I wonder how they’ll present her with any challenges in the future. She can literally fly through a giant starship and destroy it utterly in about eight seconds. Sort of like how Holdo totally ruined all past and future Star Wars movies with one jump to light speed, it’s hard to imagine what can stand in Marvel’s way now that she’s discovered her real potential.
Just breathe — Speaking of the end of the movie, how come she had to wear her face shield/mohawk get up when in space while kicking the crap out of the Kree Accusers but when she leaves with the Skrull at the end with she didn’t? Was it just to get some excellent billowing blonde hair effects? And why was her hair billowing? Was that the solar wind moving her hair around?
Maria FTW — I would absolutely watch a “Maria Rambeau, Pilot of S.H.I.E.L.D.” movie/Disney+ spin-off series.
Monica FTW — Similarly, I look forward to Monica Rambeau’s Photon making an appearance. The sooner the better.
Current events — A lot of pixels have been expended complaining about how the Skrull in this movie being portrayed as victimized refugees have ruined a possible Secret Invasion movie(s). That’s true, but when viewed through the prism of current events, I think casting them as “the other” who infiltrate and assume our identity while secretly plotting our ruin through terrorism hits a little too close to the hateful rhetoric of certain orange politicians and their supplicants. Casting the Kree as a race who consider themselves literal galaxy-saving heroes (as Danvers describes them before she learned the truth) rather than seeing themselves for what they are makes “Captain Marvel” almost an allegory for our time.
Sequel potential — Danvers leaves Earth in 1995 and comes back in (around) 2019 (probably) so that means she was out kicking ass and being heroic all over the galaxy for twenty-some years. All kinds of room for more Captain Marvel movies that don’t have to fit inside the current MCU timeline.
911 — The movie gives us no explanation for why Fury didn’t use his “emergency only” pager to call Captain Marvel when Loki opened a hole over Manhattan and about a million Chitauri and a dozen giant space worms came pouring out. Nor do we know why he didn’t push the magic button when Ultron tried to drop a city on Earth to kill all life. Nor why he waited to push the button until after the snapture and not while Thanos was wreaking havoc and his giant tire swing space ship was hanging above NYC. It’s not until the very end when he starts to dust does he push the button. Weird.
“Captain Marvel” was a solid Marvel outing. Not the best MCU movie, but nowhere near the worst. After two viewings, I rank it as number ten in my personal MCU film ranking. Above “Thor: Ragnarok” but behind the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie.