Film Review: Captain Marvel
What the hell am I about to watch?
Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Running Time: 123 mins
Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Staring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law
Distributor: Wal Disney
Budget: $175 million
Opening Weekend US: $153 million
Alright now that I know that bit - hit me with a little clip....
Well I'm still reading so I must be intrigued tell me more!
Vers, a member of the Kree’s Starforce Military and a woman of supernatural powers, lands on Earth as she tries to escape from the Skrulls, bringing trouble to our holy planet. A series of incidents -and after convincing agent Nick Fury she means no danger- make her discover her human origins. Carol Denvers, an Air Force pilot who helped Dr. Wendy Larson on a secret project called Pegasus and who turns out to be a Skrull, suffered memory loss after trying to destroy Larson’s source of super powerful energy to keep it away from the Krees. So much to unpack here!
First of all, a disclaimer. As surprising as it might sound, I am not familiar with the Marvel comics’ mythology.. So this critical review will come from a spectatorial position of a newcomer, and the analysis will be objective. The choice of film is an attempt to trigger a discussion between my conclusions on Captain Marvel and last week’s review of the film Wonder Woman, by Jenkins (2017).
As a newcomer, I have to flag the little introduction to the plot I received. The storytelling was for the elite, the following; it gave the film a cult flavour. To understand it you need to deserve it (by watching another million films, but ultimately to read the original comics). Not knowing who the Kress or the Skrulls were was a turn off at first, but I was intrigued, it felt like sneaking into a (not-so) secret club, so I proceeded.
Carol (Brie Larson) is a human, as opposed to Wonder Woman. She is gifted with wit and sassiness, she gets drunk in pubs. She is relatable, a perfectly imperfect American. Her characterisation shows us she is loyal to causes she believes in, like Larson’s (Annette Bening) project Pegasus, and that this loyalty is the one characteristic that transcends her memory-loss and her new identity. The melodramatic rhetoric of the film makes it look as if that was the essence of human nature, loyalty. Even if you don’t remember who Larson and your best friend are, if you felt it once you can feel it again. In its heroic attempt to emphasize a trait of communal spirit, the film depicts humans with very little capacity for personal judgement. But let’s move on.
The Skrulls seem to me, the newcomer, a super advanced community of mixed-raced individuals. Their technology and infrastructures are of an extremely futuristic aesthetic, and their priorities include really early trainings and inclusivity. They represent a dystopian future. At the beginning of the film, Carol belongs to the Skrulls under the name Vers. She has lost all memory of her life on Earth and she belongs to an elite group of super people that are meant to get involved in galactic wars on command. So why is the dystopian future the antagonist of the film? One could say this film is trying to brainwash us into believing that progress is undesirable. But wait, no. The superhero is a woman, this film surely is very progressive. The Skrulls are shown to control their emotions so their emotions don’t control them, they are shown to be preoccupied with maintaining their health and strength, and their are shown to respond to a projection of themselves rather than to a never-seen god. On the other hand, humans are seen as clumsy creatures, they wash dishes by hand, they wait 10 minutes for a CD to load. They are described at some point as being of no threat to the galaxy. They are funny though, and loyal! The film tries really hard to humanise its characters by making them a bit stupid - but charming; by ridiculing their flaws rather than depict them with grace and taste. Why is nobody offended by this?
And then there is Carol. Her loyalty granted her superpowers, so now she can fly and project electricity. She gains full power once she liberates herself from the Skrulls completely by taking away a chip on her neck. Anyway, she can fly now, and she changes the colour of her suit to the American colours. She is the heroine of the people. But again, and as in Wonder Woman, it seems that in this fictional world not anybody can be a hero - they need to be the victim of extraterrestrial technology (except for Ironman, and Batman, and some other male counterparts). Furthermore, and in opposition to Wonder Woman, Carol doesn’t show a bit of femininity in her. So yes, Marvel Studios chose to green light a franchise around a female protagonist, but as far as I am concerned her characterisation doesn’t differ the one of a man. As a woman, my identification with Carol is no different to the one with Samuel L. Jackson. Marvel doesn’t get any kudos for this move. So our heroine is the victim of alien radiation, who shows no capacity for judgement and will believe the first person that owns photos of her, and who could’ve been a manikin as she is almost genderless and asexual. Why is it that the rest of the galaxies have well-rounded super people that would use their natural strength as a weapon and we always need to wait for some sort of alien thunder for us to be opponents to consider? Why is it that North America always needs to rely on artificial fictional powers in order to go to combat? Why are we not giving our hero the best weapon designed with the highest of human intellect, weapons that will enhance rather than substitute human’s natural strength, and technology so smart that will guide them through the infinity of the Multiverse? We are talking about fiction here, it could be done. No, if anything that would be reserved to Ironman, he could buy it. And here’s where I avoid capitalist talk.
The superhero movies, both by DC and Marvel, seem to be spreading a rather irresponsible rhetoric. The general public say these films are empowering though, so they surely are. I just wish I could see myself in them, as a worthy opponent to the wonderful terrors of the infinite space. I just wish I could consume progressive films that would empower me rather than tell me that I need somebody with more power to save me. It seems that the American dream is to fall into a pool of radioactive mysterious liquid to see if one can gain some dignity and prestige. Dignity, prestige, and power. And we are waiting for that pool with fervour.
That's all great and thanks but the real deets now!
Good movie. I laughed, I cried, I sang along to the music. Would highly recommend a viewing of the film. I mean there's a cat, if that doesn't sell you I don't know what will.
Rhiannon viewed the film in 2D setting at home via Blu Ray on an LG Smart TV.