Directors: Anne Boden, Ryan Fleck
Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch
Have I Seen it Before: Tempting to say yes, as the superhero genre has consistently risked reverting to a very bland mean, but I’m pleased to say this film has enough of a unique feel to bring me straight to the answer to my next question.
Did I Like It: Yes, yes I did.
Is it kind of gross to immediately compare this to Wonder Woman (2017)? Reductive, possibly, but impossible to completely avoid while the road to more representation is paved with MRA’s who are insistent on burning everything to the ground. Is it apostasy to say that I prefer Captain Marvel? Wonder Woman is a fine film—and in fact the only film of the struggling DCEU to not be overwhelmed by any particularly glaring flaws—but is ultimately at it is core Thor meets Captain America but with a lady.
Marvel, however feels different. For one thing, there is no interest in any degree of a romantic subplot anywhere in the film. Admittedly, that could be in some small part because the first forty-five minutes are a little weighed down by expositioning a heavy science-fantasy framework of which general audiences likely have no awareness. No time for love here, Dr. Jones. And yet, omitting that part of the story feels refreshing.
Carol Danvers (Brie) isn’t closed off or inhuman in the pursuit of this greater ideal, either. She has tremendous affection for her friends (even in cases where she’s spent over half a decade not remembering them), is the funniest character in the film that isn’t a cat, and She’s a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and only serves to increase my anticipation of the upcoming Avengers Endgame. What’s more? I think the true measure of a superhero film featuring a character that might not be in the cultural zeitgeist is that I want to read more of the world the moment the movie is over. And in the day since I’ve seen the film, I keep eyeing the comixology collection of Captain Marvel stories. So, well done, movie. Well done.
One more note: the work to make Samuel L. Jackson and to a lesser extent, Clark Gregg, twenty-five years younger has finally come of age. Or, at the very least, it’s evolved by quantum leaps beyond the lurching, halting, unfathomable creations that first stepped out of a car in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). With that being said, my common refrain about the future of superhero films may need a slight revision. I’ve been saying for years that the best idea no one is working on is a Batman Beyond film featuring Michael Keaton as old Bruce Wayne. Now that we have the technology to rebuild him, let’s skip the compromise and just make the Batman 3 that we always deserved and give us prime 90s Keaton. We have the means; we need only find the will now.