By: Jurmane Lallana
“Higher, further, faster, baby!”
It’s been barely a week since Captain Marvel photon-blasted her way towards the big screen. Reviews are mixed, and except for the fact that everyone is looking forward to Avengers: Endgame, the fans are currently divided on almost anything you can think of—from Brie Larson’s casting/performance as Carol Danvers to whether or not Captain Marvel does well as a stand-alone film or if it only serves as an appetizer for Endgame. Let’s attempt to discuss some of the issues here, but first…
The Beardict: 8 out of 10. Captain Marvel is a stellar start to Marvel’s new wave of superhero films. Although technically still part of the MCU’s Phase Three, the generous display of power and leadership effectively establishes Carol Danvers as the premier hero of Phase Four. As an origin movie, it skips the awkward stages of development and presents Captain Marvel right away as a “noble warrior hero” who sees the light and showcases a glimpse of her full potential during the film’s climax (I got really emotional when she went Binary and MAY have shed tears). Oh, and it gives us 90s nostalgia through its awesome soundtrack and references, which is always a plus in my book. Captain Marvel is definitely not perfect, and I’m saying that as a fan who has been anticipating this for years now. However, my belief in Marvel Studios remains intact, and things can only get better for the franchise from here on out. The best treat for yourself is to watch the movie on IMAX, so you can see Carol’s thrilling adventure in its full glory.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Brie Larson as Carol Danvers
With an Academy award under her belt, Brie Larson brings a lot of talent and experience to the MCU. However, Captain Marvel is the first female-led movie from Marvel Studios, and that puts a big responsibility on her shoulders. Her detractors often cite two complaints against Brie: 1) She’s a hardcore feminist whose controversial comments cause certain demographics not to watch her movie, and 2) she simply doesn’t look, act, or sound like a superhero.
For 1), while it is true that Brie identifies herself as a feminist and has a lot of things to say about society, it does not mean that she only wants women watching Captain Marvel. Many media and vloggers have blown up what she said about wanting more diversity in the movie critic industry, and twisted her comments into something toxic and racist: that white men should be offended and they should boycott the movie. Even in the Philippines, literally any Captain Marvel promotional post is littered by people saying that the movie will tank because the main actor doesn’t care about her audience. Rotten Tomatoes even had to change their system of how movies are rated because trolls kept bombing Captain Marvel with abysmal scores even before its release.
For more clicks and views, the Internet tried to derail MCU’s plan of making Captain Marvel a shining beacon for empowerment. Fortunately, as of this writing, Box Office Mojo reports that the film is expected to have an estimated 153M USD opening weekend (domestic US), which means that all the hate for the movie pre-release was not enough to hamper its success.
For 2), to Brie Larson’s credit, although she would not have been my first choice (Emily Blunt as Captain Marvel would have been perfect), it seems Marvel was right to cast her as Carol all along. Because of her strong personality and non-apologetic stance when it comes to the causes she believes in, she is able to embody the essence of Captain Marvel even when off-screen: a woman who’s not afraid to challenge the status quo despite the potential backlash that may occur.
In terms of her actual performance as Carol/Captain Marvel, all things considered, I think she did a good job in depicting how a gifted Kree solider would be if she lost her memory. Despite initial criticism received from the trailers that she is emotionless/does not smile at all, Brie’s acting does not disappoint, and she is able to make Carol relatable, especially during her conversations with Nick Fury. In the next installments, now that her past is no longer in question, we will most likely see a more confident Carol Danvers from Brie, something that many viewers were probably looking for already in her debut film.
Marvel Studios establishes Captain Marvel as MCU’s Superman
Captain Marvel is often compared to DC superheroes. Because she is bannering MCU’s first solo film with a female lead, both fans and bashers would like to know how she measures up against Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Additionally, Shazam (slated to be released on April 5 and headlined by Zachary Levi as the titular character) is traditionally called “Captain Marvel” as well, so people are also talking about which film would be better.
Although these comparisons are valid, the real contest here is actually between Captain Marvel and DC’s golden boy himself, Superman. Powered by the lightspeed engine from the Tesseract, Carol ends up being the strongest Avenger (sorry, Hulk and Thor) and can stop warheads and crash spaceships with minimal effort. That ending scene where Carol looks back at the Earth fondly moments before she departs with the Skrulls? That’s something Superman would do.
Clearly, President Kevin Feige and the folks at Marvel Studios saw how Man of Steel (2013) failed to captivate its audience, so they proceeded with Captain Marvel with these two things in mind:
#1: Make MCU’s most powerful hero have a solid connection with the female demographic. Basically uncharted territory for them, it was a bold move for Marvel Studios to emphasize Captain Marvel’s gender during the marketing efforts. For example, the trailers highlighted HER in HERO, and release date was set on International Women’s Day. Aside from Carol Danvers, they also featured formidable female characters like ace pilot and best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and Kree Starforce sniper Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan).
Although Wonder Woman was great, Batman and Superman are such icons already that other DC heroes tend to automatically live in their shadows. By making Captain Marvel the strongest MCU character, they are able to boost the name Carol Danvers, a heroine, to the level of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.
#2: Concentrate on the fact that Captain Marvel is a human being. The Supreme Intelligence made the mistake of reminding Carol that she’s human, and it led to her drawing strength from it. However, that reminder was not only for Carol, but also for us. Her humanity makes her relatable and inspirational, as she’s not a male alien who arrived on Earth to avoid planetary destruction.
The genius of Captain Marvel’s twist and secrecy
Once again, Marvel Studios proves that it is a master when it comes to trailers. People always become wary of their trailers because it seems they show too much, but each time, we get amazed at how there was no spoiler at all. For Captain Marvel, they were able to keep the characters played by Ben Mendelsohn (General Talos), Annette Bening (Supreme Intelligence/Wendy Lawson/Mar-Vell) and Jude Law (Yon-Rogg) secret. The Kree turn out to not be so noble after all, and the shapeshifting Skrulls A.K.A. the supposed bad guys are only looking for a new home.
For the longest time, speculators were so sure that Jude Law was Mar-Vell, and some comic book fans may actually be irked to find out that Mar-Vell’s gender was bent (his alias in the comics is actually Dr. Walter Lawson). However, having Mar-Vell as a female mentor to Carol does work better, as it makes the passing of the torch more symbolic.
S.H.I.E.L.D. is a welcome blast from the past
The last MCU film that focused on S.H.I.E.L.D was Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Age of Ultron only featured a marginal appearance from Nick Fury), and the organization has definitely been missed. Seeing how the state of the 90’s S.H.I.E.L.D. operations was really funny, knowing how advanced things were in the Avengers (2012). Their headquarters was shown to be in Los Angeles, which ties up nicely to the storyline of Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) being transferred to the LA office during the show’s second season.
We saw two-eyed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) with his “high clearance” at level 3. His short partnership with Carol prompted him to start the Avengers Initiative, and most likely inspired him to reach the top of the ladder as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. so he could protect the world while she was away.
We also saw a younger Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), a beloved character who has not appeared in an MCU movie in seven years. He will always be the reason why the Avengers came together and saved the world.
Captain Marvel in Avengers: Endgame and beyond
Of course, it was very strategic for Captain Marvel to open around a month before Endgame, so events of the movie are still fresh in our minds when we enter the cinemas for the fourth installment of the Avengers. Although there’s a certain level of satisfaction obtained from watching Captain Marvel while knowing the details of the other MCU films, it’s not a requirement. One can basically watch the movie, understand what’s happening, and get entertained even if that person hasn’t seen Infinity War.
On the other hand, it becomes a must-watch for anyone who wants to know more about her potential role in Endgame. As the post-credit scene showed us, Carol is probably just a few minutes away from charging into the rice terraces and punching Thanos in the face (Mar-Vell was right all along about lightspeed technology ending wars, just not the way she expected it to). Having said that, it won’t be a deus ex machina scenario either, for sure. I have this wild theory that Captain Marvel gets mind-controlled by a resurrected Ebony Maw, and so the original six Avengers have to band together to defeat her. Haha. Imagine the possibilities!
Beyond Endgame, as Captain America and Iron Man take a bow, stories revolving around newer Marvel properties such as Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange will become front and center in Phase Four. For the second installment of Captain Marvel, it can focus on Carol’s continuous battles with the Kree (remember, Yon-Rogg and Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser are both still out there), or it can pick up after Endgame. Whatever the case, if there will be another Avengers movie in the near future, Carol will most likely lead that team (she was, after all, the leader of the Mighty Avengers at one point in the comic books).
The Goose effect
Just as Marvel dedicated posters and collaterals for Goose, I will also dedicate one whole paragraph for our favorite fluffy Flerken. In the comics, Carol’s pet is actually named Chewie (after Star Wars’ Chewbacca). Early reviews of Captain Marvel said that Goose was a scene stealer, and we actually didn’t know the extent of it until Goose eats the Tesseract through his hidden alien mouth. Unlike the porgs from the Last Jedi which were criticized because they had no use at all except for being cute and selling merchandise, Goose succeeds in being both an aww factor and an important plot mover. Universally-liked, there are already reports that Goose will have a role in Avengers: Endgame. Personally, I’m interested in seeing his interactions with Rocket and Groot!
Together with the rest of the Avengers, Captain Marvel will face Thanos in Avengers: Endgame (opening April 26). I am so grateful that we live in a time where the distance between 1995 and 2019 is just a month. Haha. Until then, I’ll continue using #HigherFurtherFaster as my motto, and I suggest you do too.
Photos courtesy of Marvel Studios. Captain Marvel is currently available in cinemas near you!