Review: Captain Marvel

I’ve got nothing to prove to you.

One of the primary themes of Captain Marvel is the way Carol a.k.a. Ver’s mentor/boss Yon-Rogg uses misogynistic mind games (and, well, a literally chip in her neck) to perpetually dampen her powers and hold her down.  Once she comes to this realization, she tells him in their final showdown: “You know what?  Fuck off, I don’t need to waste my time trying to prove myself to you anymore.”  I’m paraphrasing this PG-13 movie obviously, but that’s the gist.  And it’s part of the entire point of the movie.  It’s ironic, then, that I’ve spent the past month tracking Captain Marvel‘s box office receipts for the express purpose of proving all the pathetic misogynist trolls – who tried so very hard to tank this movie – that they are wrong stupid impotent garbage boys.  Of course, I want Marvel’s first lady superhero movie to be successful regardless, but my motivations here are probably about equal between the two.

So one could say I’m doing a very bad job at following the advice the movie gives its audience.  On the other hand, this movie does have a quintessential sarcastic 90’s “go fuck yourself” attitude, and a lot of that energy in the movie is directed at the unfortunate dudes who try to belittle Carol and hold her back.  So I don’t think my desire to see the suffering of the sad angry fools who actively tried to destroy this movie is all that unreasonable, per Captain Marvel‘s general vibe.  Tumblr user tami-taylors-hair sums it up well:

And I don’t think smacking down the losers who’ve always tried to dampen your spirit is the entire point here, it’s really just a side effect of the larger story arc of the movie: Carol’s journey to reaching her full potential.  That journey requires her to cut out the jerks in her life who are keeping her down, and she can only do that once she realizes they are jerks.  It also must involve a path of self-discovery, since Carol … err – Vers – has no idea who she even is when the movie begins.  It’s the effective telling of these aspects of Carol’s story that makes this movie resonate with so many women and girls – and honestly I think most guys too – while the not-so-bright guys out there are like “Wait what?  I don’t get it.  Where’s the story?  I can’t find it!  She’s just like, walking around doing stuff and I don’t know why?  Why wasn’t there more shooting?  Where’s the struggle?  Where was the hand-to-hand combat?  Boring!!  Bottom tier MCU!”

So How *is* it Compared to Wonder Woman, Anyway?

Yes, this comparison is obnoxious AF when people use it to pit these two movies against each other, which virtually all the angry internet fanboys have done (along with pitting CM against Alita: Battle Angel and Shazam!).  They pit CM against Alita and WW for the same reason lefty bros constantly sang the following refrain in 2016: “Fuck that cunt Hillary Clinton but I’m not a misogynist I’d totally vote for Elizabeth Warren!”:  Because they want to convince both you and themselves that they’re not misogynists.  They just don’t like this particular woman.  She’s uppity and she mouths off too much.  “If only Brie had kept her rotten SJW trap shut, we would have totally supported this movie!  She doesn’t know her place like these other classy ladies do.  Gal Gadot never stepped out of line like this!”

Cut to Elizabeth Warren Bros, 2019: “Elizabeth Warren is a corporate whore!  Bernie 2020!”  Hmm. I’m starting to sense a strange pattern.  Gal Gadot better watch her back once she starts promoting Wonder Woman 1984.

Anyway that is all to say that I’m about to compare Captain Marvel to Wonder Woman.  Heh.  BUT my point is that a) I’m comparing them in good faith, not pitting them against each other, and b) I’m doing it because these are literally the only two *quality* lady-fronted superhero movies that exist at all in the universe.  I’ve been given no goddamn choice but to compare Lady Superhero Movie #2 to Lady Superhero Movie #1 because it’s my only fucking frame of reference.  So here I go.

Wonder Woman is a more well-made movie in the classic sense, taking into account the effectiveness of the storytelling, the visuals, and how deeply the major beats of the movie resonate … yet Captain Marvel is the one I’m gonna watch over and over again.  And that is because Diana is someone I can look up to and aspire to be like, while Carol is someone I can completely and totally relate to right now.  Because I’m a badass Air Force pilot.  Lol o.k. so both characters are pretty out of reach, but Carol is an actual human being (an altered human, but still human) with faults and struggles and failures, while Diana is a literal god.  I love them both, one is just slightly more relatable.

They’re also very different movies – CM spends more of its runtime with a goofy tone, and it feels more scrappy, like a big budget superhero movie that was made by low-budget indie directors.  It’s funkier.  Yes both movies were made by indie directors, but only one of them feels like it was.  And I love both styles!  In terms of the characters, Diana is very altruistic and earnest while Carol has more sarcastic “been-there-done-that” attitude, which kinda translates to the vibe of each movie overall.  Again, both are great.  Bottom line, I love both of these movies for different reasons.  And I’m glad they’re so different in so many ways.  Now all we need is a thousand more lady superhero movies to give us a thousand more characters and approaches!  You know, like the boys have.  Since women make up 51% of the population, 51% of superheroes should be women, right?  Cool.  Can’t wait for this to happen.

“Captain Marvel hits its stride when Carol gets to Earth”

O.k. let’s talk details.  I saw a bunch of comments from critics and other press who saw early screenings of CM that they were surprised at how much of the movie takes place in space / on other planets.  Many of them weren’t necessarily mentioning it as a bad thing, but a good number of them said that the movie starts off slow during this Kree backstory stretch.  And if I’d seen the movie with zero knowledge of it like these peeps did, I suppose I may have felt some of this.  But because I had seen all these comments ahead of time, I ended up feeling like the alien backstory set-up portion of the movie whizzed by in an instant.  I didn’t feel like it dragged in the least, especially since so much of it was spent on the Skrulls digging into Vers’ Earth memories, thereby giving us Earth scenes anyway.

And this section of the movie is capped off with the action sequence of Vers breaking out of the Skrull ship, which is entertaining and fast-paced.  So I had no problem whatsoever with the time spent on Kree/Skrull backstory.  I enjoyed it.  That said, the movie does hit its stride once Vers gets to Earth, as any movie like this would (and it happens only 23 mins into the movie – This is not a Hunger Games type deal where they spend literally half the movie on prep/set-up before they finally get into the arena).

Carol & Fury 4-Ever

What I love about Nick Fury’s role in this movie is that while Yon-Rogg represents the worst of what the male species has to offer, Fury represents the best of it.  Which is partly why the PatheticBros are so mad at this movie.  They think the movie neuters Fury because he dares to actually be a nice and fully-supportive guy who doesn’t try to steal all Carol’s thunder and one-up her every chance he gets.  But why the eff would he want to do that??

First off, the Nick Fury we see here in 1995 is not the Nick Fury of present day.  He hasn’t evolved into that grumpy world-weary guy yet.  In this movie he’s just a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent trying to do his job and figure out why this random chick crashed through the roof of a Blockbuster in the middle of the night.  And then he’s trying to figure out where all these aliens came from.  This is all new for him at this point and he’s still a relatively normal dude when this all begins.  He’s not a seasoned badass yet.  This is his backstory as much as it is Carol’s.

But even present-day grumpy Fury would have no reason to feel threatened by or feel a need to upstage Carol.  What would be the point?  Heaven forbid we get a male character who is capable of having healthy and respectful relationships with his fellow female characters and to treat them as his equals.  And it’s kind of bizarre but I think this is Brie Larson and Sam Jackson’s third movie together??  I had no idea this was a thing until very recently.  But they’ve got great chemistry and I can’t wait for Carol to flip her shit in Endgame when she realizes Fury has been dusted.

Carol & Maria & Monica 4-Ever … And Dr. Lawson!

I greatly appreciate the peak 90’s-ness of the Doc Martens & Timberlands in this scene.

I mean what can I even say: Maria and Monica are really the beating heart of this movie.  And this is a challenging thing to set up, because you have to make the audience care and believe and feel these relationships without being able to devote a ton of screentime to cultivating them.  This story doesn’t start with Carol and Maria as friends, so it’s not as if we spend the first section of the movie building up their backstory.  Rather, you have to be able to see it and feel it the second Carol walks up to Maria and Monica at the little plane hanger area, after just a few quick flashbacks leading up to it.  Nearly all of this relies on the actors to convey all of this history between them quickly.

And Lashana Lynch as Maria has to carry nearly all of the load here because at this point Carol doesn’t remember anything other than flashes.  Lynch does a fantastic job with it.  In this first scene she’s able to convey many years of history with just her facial expressions and body language.  Luckily we get several more scenes with these 3 throughout the movie to show the full breadth of their history and found-family relationship; one of these scenes being the most important one in the movie IMO, which I touch on in the “Quiet Moments” section below.

And Monica, along with her relationship to Auntie Carol is just beyond adorable.  And inspiring, to actually get a movie where a young girl looks up to a heroic adult figure who is actually … a woman.  What a concept!  Btw, according to the comics I think Monica will play a big role in this later on.  Hopefully the MCU will give her her own movie at some point.

OH and Annette Bening as Dr. Lawson!  From my (again extremely limited) understanding of the comics Annette is essentially playing Mar-Vell, who is a dude in the comics.  I’m so glad they decided to switch this up and cast Annette, because I found this relationship to be a thousand times more effective with Dr. Lawson as a female role model to Carol and Maria.  Bening is also super fun as the Supreme Being – One of my favorite scenes in the movie is towards the end when Carol is back in the “room” with “Come as You Are” playing, and Bening is just dancing around chewing up the scene in the dreamy leather jacket.

The Comedy: Talos, the 90’s, and Goose (is My Co-Pilot)

It takes a lot to make my husband laugh out loud, and it takes even more to make him laugh hard.  Like true, flailing around in his seat, tears streaming down his face belly laughs.  It usually requires something beyond ridiculous in the best sense of the word.  The cat gags in this movie hit the mark for him (and for me) perfectly.  The full-on belly laughs came with the Flerken reveal as you can imagine, but all the interactions with Talos leading up to it are golden.

And a lot of this is due to the genius of Ben Mendelsohn as Talos; the running gag with him having no idea what a cat is and flinching at Goose is hysterical.  My first viewing of this movie was early on a Sunday morning in a packed theater and the full audience reactions to these gags made them even more enjoyable.  Mendelsohn has a very challenging role here too, in that he has to transition from the villain to a protagonist 2/3rds of the way through the movie.  He has to make you afraid of him, hate him, laugh at him, laugh with him, empathize with him, and then root for him.  That’s a tall order, and there’s a reason why many people have said he gives their favorite performance in the movie.

I also can’t write this review without talking about CM’s 90’s setting.  I was 13 years old on New Year’s Day 1990, and I was 23 on New Year’s 2000.  That means the entirety of my teenage years and my early 20’s took place in the 90’s.  So 90’s pop culture is extremely ingrained in my brain.  From CM’s soundtrack to the band posters to the Blockbuster to the VHS movies to the Mallrats script to the 90’s tech to the Docs and flannel, I just … yes.  Shoot all of this into my veins.  I’m so intense about this that I walked out of the theater being irked that they’d use “Celebrity Skin” for the credits rather than using “Live Through This” era Hole in a scene somewhere, because the latter was 1995 appropriate.  Celebrity Skin was from ’98!  But on second thought, I realized that Live Through This didn’t have enough peppy beats to work well in this movie; plus it was a little too dark.  Heh.  So good choice, CM.

One last thing on the cat topic before I move on: This movie was released on a pivotal/weird/sad week in my (and my husband’s) life: We had to put down our beloved 13 year-old chocolate lab in the middle of the week.  Sniffle.  We saw the movie on Sunday morning knowing that week might be “the one” for the dog, took the dog to the vet Monday morning to find out the swelling on her right back thigh was a tumor (bone cancer), put her down Wednesday afternoon, spent all Thursday crying, and then I went to see Captain Marvel again Thursday night by myself for movie therapy.  And now I think there’s a decent chance our next pet might be a cat.  I was always a cat person growing up; my childhood pet was a cat, and I’m at a point where I don’t think any other dog will be able to compare to our dearly departed Maura anyway.  The next obvious choice is a Flerken.

The Kree-Skrull War’s Not-so-Veiled Real World Political Parallels

I am not a comic book reader, so I don’t know the history of the Kree and the Skrulls from the Captain Marvel comics other than what I’ve read on the Wiki overview and an online explainer or two.  And as always with the comic books, it’s extremely complicated.  It sounds like both alien races are somewhat adversarial/dangerous to Earth/humans because they always want to take us over and experiment on us, but it also sounds like the comic book version of humanity has done a better job at forming a sometimes-ally-ship with the Kree, due to (Kree) Mar-Vell working with the Avengers.

I’m not sure how comic readers expected the Kree and Skrulls to be portrayed in this movie, but certainly non-readers (i.e. the general audience) went in assuming the Skrulls were the bad guys.  They look creepy and they shape-shift into old ladies, and the trailer tells us that Vers is Kree.  Plus, she punches the old (Skrull) lady in the trailer.  With all that in mind, the movie ends up cleverly tweaking the Kree/Skrull dynamic to accomplish several interesting things at once:

  1. It flips the protagonists and the adversary halfway through the movie, defying your story expectations a bit.  I’m pretty sure this particular take on the two alien races does not happen in the comic books either, so even if you went in as an expert on the comics, this is still a new spin.
  2. It gives a refreshingly not-at-all-veiled commentary on real-world political conflicts, with Israel / Palestine being a major parallel.  I mean, right?  Am I crazy?
  3. The storyline in the movie doesn’t veer far enough away from what would be possible in the comics to prevent it from portraying storylines from the comics in the future.  And since the movie presents only a subset of characters from each alien race, it could easily flip the script in the next movie in terms of who plays the “good guy” and who plays the “bad guy”.

The 100 used to do a pretty good job of presenting “good guys” and “bad guys” as both simply being a mixed bag of various good and bad people fighting for their own group’s best interests, before it turned into a repetitive steaming pile of garbage.  When the show was good, it made you realize that you who you defined as the “good guys” mostly just depended on whose POV the story was being told from.  From my limited knowledge I think many comic books also excel at portraying the complexities of adversarial groups, as well as drawing present-day political parallels.  Several of the MCU movies have also done well at this, e.g. Civil War, Black Panther, and the past couple Avengers movies.

So certainly Captain Marvel isn’t the first to tackle complex political topics; rather it follows in a long line in this tradition.  That said, CM does seem particularly bold in making no attempt whatsoever to veil its metaphor or its stance on the whole “love thy neighbor” concept that conservative Christians forget Jesus told them a thousand times over in the Bible, when it comes to lending aid (and a little empathy) to refugees.  In a time of such ugly bigoted (white) nationalistic shit coming from so many of the world’s leaders, with refugee kids kept in cages at our southern borders and Muslim bans put in place, it feels refreshing to see this in a main stream MCU film playing to millions of people across the world.

Cue Me Looking Up “OP” on Urban Dictionary

I’ve seen Captain Marvel twice as of this writing, and the first time I saw it, I remember getting a panicky feeling in the last 5 minutes of the movie that it was about to end where it was, without any more big battle sequences or anything.  I think a huge part of that was a function of my first viewing happening early on a Sunday morning during a busy/stressful weekend on no sleep and too much coffee, which meant I kept having to pee during the movie.  I never walk out during a movie unless my bladder is literally about to explode, which is exactly what happened here; the coffee was having an unfortunate diuretic effect like when I drink beer on an empty stomach.  That meant I had to run out to pee twice: Once when Carol first lands on earth, and once when she and the gang get on Lawson’s ship with the Tesseract.  Ugh!

This ended up messing up my ability to fully take in the lead-up to the climactic sequence of the movie, which left it a bit like an unfinished puzzle until I watched it a second time and could actually sit through the whole thing without any interruptions.  The movie felt proper and complete and fully-realized on viewing number 2.

I do think there is a little something to why I was left with blue-balls on my first viewing though, other than my feeble bladder, and this tweet touches on it:

When I saw this tweet I had to search “OP” on Urban Dictionary because I had no idea what it meant (and no, It’s not “original poster” in this context):

Yeah, totes.  Carol is totally OP, and that’s kinda the entire point.  Jack “CouRage” Dunlop gets that.  I didn’t at first, because it does have the side effect of making the final action sequence feel a little too easy, since once Carol takes that implant out of her neck, there’s never another moment where we feel like she might lose.  The entire climactic sequence is Carol just kicking ass and taking names left and right, literally punching friggin’ space ships out of the sky while she picks off her enemies one by one.  It totally throws you off because it goes outside the classic formula of every superhero movie and every action movie in existence.  And I have no doubt whatsoever that this is why the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes average % is in the high 70’s instead of the high 80’s or 90.

It was only on my second viewing that I realized this is because I and many others were too busy looking for something in the traditional formula instead of focusing on the story the movie is actually telling:

  1. The point of this story is not to show Captain Marvel struggling to defeat her enemies once she gains her full powers, the point of the story is to show Vers/Carol striving to discover who she is, and to realize that she actually has the strength and ability to break out of the chains the Skree have kept her in the entire time, to begin with.  That is the struggle.  That is Carol’s arc.  Once she finally accomplishes this goal, the final battle sequence is a cake walk.  It can certainly be argued that the movie would have been more effective if it had given Carol more challenges in the climactic battle as well, but I’m able to roll with it because of what I call out next in point #2 …
  2. The other purpose of Captain Marvel’s origin story is to make you want to root for her and to believe she is someone who can majorly boost the Avengers’ chances of defeating Thanos in EndgameInfinity War ended with all hope being lost except for that page Nick Fury sent out to Carol right as he disintegrated into dust.  Captain Marvel is these guys’ last hope at this point, so her origin story has to set her up to be powerful enough to give Thanos a major run for his money.  CM accomplished this by leaps and bounds, and if the downside of this is that CM’s final battle sequence felt a little too easy for Carol, I’m o.k. with that.

We’ll see what happens in Endgame.  Maybe there will be a surprise twist and Carol’s entire contribution to defeating Thanos will be to convince Ant-Man to fly up Thanos’ ass and … well you know the rest.

Your move, Endgame.  Your move.

The Quiet Moments are the Important Parts

For me and I think for everyone else who loved Captain Marvel, the most important sequence of the movie is where Carol listens to the black box recording, comes to the realization of what really happened that day on the secret mission with Dr. Lawson, rediscovers who she is with the help of Maria and her pep talk, and works with Maria and Talos to figure out what her purpose is and what her team (Team Carol/Fury/Maria/Talos)’s mission has to be.  It’s where Carol truly discovers who she is, what she’s lost, who took it from her, and what she needs to do to make things right.

It’s not that most comic movies don’t have the sequence where the hero works through some internal struggle and figures out their (usually his) true mission, but I think what makes CM different is that these quiet moments of discovery and character development end up being more important to the story than all the action and ass-kicking.  It’s as if this movie plays more like a traditional drama that happens to have action sequences, rather than a traditional action/comic book movie that happens to have some drama sequences.  The story reminds me a lot of Jessica Jones S1 in that sense, and also in the sense that Jessica’s main struggle is to break free from a predatory dude who has stolen her free will and her body, and Captain Marvel is essentially the exact same struggle.

And this is another reason why the dullards of the ComicBro/ActionBro species couldn’t find the story no matter how hard they looked.  The maze wasn’t meant for you, bitches!  And that’s no one’s fault but your own, because you are literally too stupid for it.

OMG and the (same) bros who claim Brie Larson’s acting skills are one-note?!  What the fuck kind of blunt force trauma did these dummies take to the head as children?  The word “nuance” is not in their vocabulary, as they apparently are only able to recognize the most over-the-top melodramatic version of comic book over-acting and exposition.  It’s mind-blowing.  One of the best scenes in the entire movie for me is where Carol … well, she’s still Vers at this point, is in the records room at the government facility going through the folder with the info on Dr. Lawson’s death.  She’s silent through most of the scene, except to mumble a couple responses to Fury before he eventually walks away.  The reason Brie Larson is an Oscar winner is because she can convey a thousand things with her face the second she picks up that folder.  She’s got a sinking feeling about what she’s about to find in there and you see it right away.  As she finds exactly what she was afraid of, you see every emotion come across her face at once as her eyes well up a bit as it all hits her like a ton of bricks.

A scene like this is pivotal to the plot regardless, but placed in the hands of the average actor and it would be nothing more than “Oh shit oops that’s me!  What to do now??”  <Dun dun duunnnn!>  Placed in the hands of a master of her acting craft, and you the audience member fully emotionally fuse yourself with Vers/Carol and everything she’s feeling: Confusion, fear, loss, sadness, determination.

Do you know what the Bros saw in this scene?  They saw a blonde chick wearing far too many clothes while reading a file and then putting it away.  That’s it!  Nothing happened!  Boring AF!  Dull!  Bottom-tier MCU!

Error 404: Male Gaze Not Found

I know Ninja Dave thinks he’s being really cute here, and if called on it would insist he’s just fucking around. He definitely means this, though.

The previous paragraph is a good segue into my next point.  Let’s first have Wikipedia give us the definition of the male gaze: “the act of depicting women and the world, in the visual arts and in literature, from a masculine, heterosexual perspective that presents and represents women as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer.”  It’s no wonder the bros are so confused by this movie.  They may as well have just just sat in front of a blank movie screen for 2 hours.  Nothing was there for them.

And I gotta say, I didn’t even notice on my first watch that the male gaze was completely absent, probably because I’m not a dude.  But holy shit, how refreshing to even have the luxury of this being absent and then not noticing.  I have zero issue whatsoever with my fellow ladies dressing as skimpy or as well-covered as they damn well please, but that is the point: it should be how they damn well please, not how the men want to see them.  And up until very recently, we lived in a world where the rare times we were lucky enough to get lady action movies, they were still directed by men.  And that means that when I think back to every lady-led comic book movie before this, I realize that the costumes were tailored to look sexy to dudes.

I see Wonder Woman as an exception to this because while she was scantily clad in the movie, it was directed by a woman and the costume came from the way the women dressed in Themyscira.  In Themyscira the women could, as I said above, dress however they damn well pleased, because they didn’t have to worry about men trying to judge and control them.  That said, there is also an element of this being the style of Wonder Woman’s outfit from the comic itself and in the TV show in the 70’s, which were all tailored for the male gaze.  So I think there is a little bit of that old school holdover ingrained in there too.

Anyway point being, there was literally nothing to be found whatsoever in Captain Marvel in terms of anything visually tailored for men for any of the female characters.  Not in one scene in the entire movie.  It’s unheard of.  I will say that think the MCU does do a decent job with their female characters in this sense in general, but I’m glad they didn’t feel the need to sex it up for the men once they finally gave us ladies a whole movie.

Also Off the Beaten Path: No Romance

When you think of female-led movies in general, of any and all genres, I think it’s still pretty rare to get one with no romantic arc.  Isn’t it?  At least when it comes to blockbuster-level movies.  I think in the past few years we’ve been improving – I’m thinking of Mad Max Fury Road and the modern Star Wars movies.  We’re kind of starting to break ground here and it feels nice, despite the fact that I really love a good ‘ship and Furiosa/Mad Max romance would be hot AF.  And yes sorry I was shipping Carol and Thor the second I saw the Endgame trailer.

So believe me, I ship it, I ship that, I ship so many things, but there are some stories that just don’t need a romantic arc.  One example that comes to mind is the love triangle in the Hunger Games series.  It worked far better in the books because books allow the space to properly develop these things, but in the movies it felt pretty forced, and it wasn’t really necessary in either format.  It mainly served to give Katniss more people to care about and fight for.  Captain Marvel provides this just fine though with the family-like bonds Carol forms (and re-forms) with Nick Fury, Maria and Monica.*

*I know many of you out there ship Carol and Maria which I totally get, but in this particular movie it was presented as a bestie-hood and I love BFF stories too.  That said, the MCU really needs to get on the ball with LGBTQ characters; I think there are several in the comics, so the movies need to catch up.

Back to Carol’s (Invisible-to-Bros) Arc … and Ant-Man

Speaking of Ant-Man flying up Thanos’ ass, we just finally watched the Ant-Man movies in prep for Endgame, because we hadn’t seen them yet.  And I realized tonight while watching Ant-Man and the Wasp that it’s literally the polar opposite of Captain Marvel in that Ant-Man is decidedly not OP.  The number of challenges and roadblocks they throw in front of Ant-Man and friends in AMatW is almost preposterous.  There are no less than three sets of totally unrelated bad guys trying to thwart our protagonists throughout the entire movie, to the point where it feels like 70% of the movie is edge-of-your seat action sequences, and the characters barely get a second to breathe before the next bad guy is trying to steal the lab from them or kill them.  It’s really fun and funny, if stressful AF, and being from the Bay Area, the San Francisco setting makes the abundant action sequences twice as fun for me.

It also illuminated something for me as I watched it:  Each comic book movie should be allowed to have not only its own personality but its own approach to  defining the arc of its main character.  Ant-Man’s struggle comes in the form of “Oh shit the bad guys are trying to kill The OG Wasp and we have to figure out how to defeat them while they keep stealing all our tech and my suit malfunctions half the time.”  It follows the traditional approach of physical threats from the baddies and physical challenges with Scott’s powers, which he has to come up with creative solutions to overcome.

The main villain in Captain Marvel, on the other hand, is gaslighting.  Which is … weird, for a comic book movie.  Carol begins her origin story already being quite powerful – and that is not traditional.  People are used to a comic book origin story starting with the character having no powers and working to gain them to defeat their enemies.  But what Carol is struggling to defeat is far more complex.  She already has all her powers, she just doesn’t realize it yet.  The story mimics the female experience, being told your entire life that you are just a little bit less-than.  You’ll never be as powerful as a man.  You’re not strong enough.  You’re not smart enough.  And you usually spend a long time believing it before you start to wonder … that is if you’re lucky enough to ever come to this realization at all.  This FB post sums it up really well:

“… a movie that is not about female empowerment, but about female power.”  Wow.  I felt that.  How does this thing only have 4 likes??

This is also a great Twitter thread covering Carol’s arc and why the more bone-headed of the male species is not able to understand it (it’s a whole thread so make sure you click to go to the tweet):

Comic book movies should want to tell complex thought-provoking stories like this that speak to the experience of people other than white dudes, because I’ve got news for you: The majority of people in this country/world are not white dudes.  And the good news is, Captain Marvel and Black Panther have proven that people want to see these stories.  BP is literally the 3rd-highest-grossing movie domestically in the history of movies.  And Captain Marvel has now made more than a billion dollars worldwide, making it the 7th highest grossing film in the MCU.  Carol Danvers had to fly higher further and faster than a lot of male superheros to get to that rank, including Thor, Spider-Man, Star Lord, even a couple Captain America movies.  And that doesn’t even count all the non-MCU dudes she’s zoomed past so far: Deadpool, a couple Batmans, Superman, the X-Men.  Cha-ching!

And guess what?  You can’t come across a tweet about CM passing $1 billion without seeing at least a couple guys in the replies – every goddamn time – trying to undercut its success.  “Imagine how much it would’ve made if it were actually good!”  “Pfft, big whoop.  1 bill is par for the course for MCU movies these days.  The MCU could put anything out and it’d make a bill.”  “But Shazam has a higher RT rating, haha!”  “Would’ve been 2 with some boob shots.”

Art imitates life imitates art.  The movie has to overcome the same shit its fictional hero has to overcome in the plot of the movie because that is the female experience.  Brie Larson dares to try to bring more women and POC to the press/critic table – something that I’ve been screaming into the void about forever – and the fragile online manbaby world makes it their life mission to burn her/the movie to the fucking ground.  Like The Last Jedi, Captain Marvel‘s average audience score will always be shit on every website for eternity because of this.  They’ll never let it go, because they are so angry that a woman dare ask for a tiny slice of equal treatment and opportunity.  Reminds me of that time a lady tried to run for president.  I’m used to this, but I will never accept it.  I will fight against these garbage men until the day I die because this is how we wind up in situations like Trump getting elected and Kavanaugh getting appointed and the GOP systematically shutting down women’s access to abortion.

My rating for Captain Marvel: 8.8/10

My couple quibbles with the movie might make it like an 8.5/10, but it gets extra credit for having been tailored specifically for my tastes, life experience and sensibilities.  Now onto Endgame: Get fucked, Thanos!

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