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Thursday, September 05, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Captain Marvel

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know how it works, I watch one of the movies I own and blog about it.  We dip back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain Marvel.  This is originally in my notes at July 1, 2019.

Writing up my not-a-reivew of The Jerk last night (seriously, I say so little I'm kinda embarrassed to share it), that I realized I've had Captain Marvel on Blu-Ray for a few weeks, have watched it a couple times, and haven't written it up yet!  So, here we go. 

Captain Marvel, the latest superhero epic from Marvel Studios.  Notable in that it's their first film with a female lead, and all focused on the female hero.  And Marvel Studios is kicking themselves for DC beating them to the punch with Wonder Woman.  As Marvel boss Kevin Feige once said about Wonder Woman's success, "We could have been first.  We should have been first."

There's been a belief for a while that female-led superhero movies wouldn't work, and they point to films like Catwoman and Elektra as examples.  I maintain that it's not that female-led superhero films don't work, it's that Catwoman and Elektra were terrible movies period.  So phoned in, so rushed....  It's why it took them so long to make Wonder Woman, and when it came out, and it was awesome, people finally went, "Oh.  This is good."  Seriously, no one's gotten gun-shy about making X-Men movies, and there's been a few terrible ones of those.  (Sorry.  On the big screen, just saw Dark Phoenix.) 

So Marvel finally got on the trolley and gave us Captain Marvel.  Carol Danvers, who's been in the comics for about 40 years.  Highly decorated Air Force pilot, she has an accident with an experimental engine that uses alien technology.  The energy blast gives her super-strength, flight, and the ability to shoot energy blasts.  So she starts fighting off aliens under the alias...Ms. Marvel.  Because there was already another Captain Marvel in Marvel Comics.  That's right, she was originally just a female knock-off of a male hero. 

Anyway, she was a bit of B-lister for a while there.  Remember in the X-Men cartoon, when Rogue could fly and had super-strength?  That's because, in the comics at that time, Rogue had held on to Ms. Marvel long enough to absorb her powers permanently and kill Ms. Marvel.  But death is never permanent in comics.  Over about the past 15 years or so, though, Marvel has really been beefing up Carol Danvers, making her the most prominent female hero in their canon.  And when Marvel did a reboot about 10 years ago or so, and were deciding who should now carry the mantle of Captain Marvel, Marvel said, "Why wouldn't we give it to Carol?"  And here we are. 

Our film opens on the homeworld of the Kree Empire.  We're introduced to Vers, who's one of the Kree's elite soldiers.  She and her team are dispatched to take out a squad of evil Skrull shapeshifters.  But, she's captured, and as the Skrulls try to extract memories from her, it awakens dormant memories.  She manages to escape, and pursues the Skrulls to a planet called Earth.  But while she works to uncover the Skrull's plot, she starts learning about her own mysterious past. 

That's kind of one problem I have with the film, that I really didn't give much thought too until it was pointed out on a podcast.  It's be nice if Carol delving into her past was a bit more prominent in the plot.  Instead, she's pretty focused on stopping the Skrulls, and delving into her past becomes a bit of a side quest. 

Brie Larson does pretty good as Captain Marvel.  I was a little worried, as she came across a bit flat in the trailers, but in the film, when Carol gets to cut loose and kick some ass, she gets just as quippy as many other Marvel heroes.  And it kind of plays into her character arc, too, as her Kree masters have been telling her to keep her emotions in check and be this emotionless warrior.  But I'm hoping for more smarmy Captain Marvel in the sequel. 

Everyone seems to be having a good time, here.  Samuel L. Jackson gives us the goofiest Nick Fury we've ever seen.  I'm sure it can attributed to this being still early in his superspy career so he's not quite as hardened and cynical yet.  And Ben Mendolson is great as Talos, the leader of the Skrulls.  After having played so many villains lately, it's fun to see him cut loose a little bit. 

There are some downsides though.  After phenomenal jobs with Thanos and Killmonger, Marvel goes back to having kind of bland villains.  And the plot is formulaic enough that I saw the big plot twists coming from miles away. 

But you know what?  I still found it to be a very satisfying superhero adventure.  I still cheer at the big hero moments.  I still have fun.  And Captain Marvel is a fun movie.

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