The Story Geeks blogger Anthony Holdier responds with an additional perspective to the same topic discussed in this week’s podcast – digging deeper into the film “Captain Marvel.” Want to share your own take? Join the conversation in The Story Geeks Facebook group!
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Okay, so I know that I’m quoting the wrong movie in my title (shout-out to Evangeline Lilly in the post-credits stinger to Ant-Man), but that’s definitely my first thought about Captain Marvel. I really enjoyed this movie, both as the final lead-in to Avengers: Endgame and on its own merits – here are a few reasons why.
The Skrull Twist
Really, this movie tried for two ‘big’ surprises; I think that the second one was telegraphed a mile away (honestly, if you couldn’t tell from his first scene that Jude Law’s Yon-Rogg was not on the up-and-up then I’ll never trust your opinion on people), but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the Skrulls were not evil. While my exposure to this particular alien race in the comics has been limited, I’ve always had the sense that both sides of the Kree-Skrull war were basically bad – seeing this band of refugees simply fighting for their families was a refreshing twist (which cast several nicely appropriate side-eyes at contemporary geopolitics).
Technically, it’s still up in the air whether the Skrulls as a race as “good” or not, but I hope that whatever movie brings them back can maintain the shades of gray in which their morality was painted in this one (they’re far more realistic that way).
A Period Piece
I love me a story set in the past – and I really love a story that subtly highlights small details of everyday life in that time period (like the cameo from one of the first OS that I clearly remember – Windows 95). While they particularly strict haters will complain about certain movies being in Blockbuster “too early” or how that song in the jukebox hadn’t yet been released, I can only say…meh. I don’t really care about that (nor do I understand the need to whine about it).
The Underlying Theme
This is far from the first movie to highlight the battle of emotions that takes place inside the mind of a superhero, but it is one of the first in the MCU to explicitly discuss the concept (at least without the superhero turning into a giant, green, rage monster). Yon-Rogg constantly berated ‘Vers’ to control her emotions (so much so that it was really no surprise when her implant turned out to be an inhibitor chip) and it was only when Carol embraced herself as a fully emotional being that her power was truly revealed. Before her memories had returned, she was fractured, but even once she started to remember, it wasn’t until she emotionally accepted her identity as Captain Marvel that the identity was able to truly be revealed.
So, in a way, Carol Danvers’ story is the mirror image to Bruce Banner’s: both are accidentally given special abilities after being dosed with mysterious radiation and both of them struggle to emotionally handle the aftermath of their change – but, whereas Bruce’s emotions are an extreme liability for him (and all of the buildings around him), Carol’s emotions are important parts of how she navigates the world. As a person who sometimes pessimistically identifies a little too closely with the Hulk, the optimistic outlook of Captain Marvel is an encouraging perspective.
This is where the movie could have easily gone wrong – kitschy dialogue or belabored editing could have turned this film into the stereotype that internet haters believed it would be – but I would argue that each person on the team knocked their role out of the park. Without question, Captain Marvel presents a riveting message of female empowerment, but it shines at doing so in a way that feels natural. For example, the cat-calling scene with the jerk on the motorcycle could easily have prompted a scene where Carol chews him out and makes him apologize – but, instead, Carol simply takes care of business and continues on towards her mission objective (but not without getting a hit of her own in on the guy). I think the great thing about the feminist message of this film was precisely in its subtlety – it didn’t need to go out of its way to highlight Brie Larson as the female lead – it simply let her be the heroic lead that she very clearly is.
So, all in all, I’m a fan of Captain Marvel. It was nice to see Samuel L. Jackson get some real dialogue (and a verbal sparring partner!), Goose was a treasure, and – despite some of the silly backlash it received – I genuinely enjoyed the explanation for the Avengers’ name. While I’m not sure if I’d put this one in my “Top Five MCU Films” list, it’s definitely not near the bottom.
I mean, “higher, further, faster,” right?