Is this … wider widescreen than usual? I’m thisclose to actually sitting down and comparing it to some previous teasers.
I have thoughts about this, but most of them are about how fucking tired I already am, and how much more tired the notion of another JJ Abrams Star Wars film makes me, so maybe I’ll share them for some other time or just put them on a shelf and not talk about them at all. For now I’m just going to point out that this thing exists and then go back to playing Mario Kart with my wife and kid.
This is going to be a non-spoiler review (I’m only directly discussing stuff revealed in the trailers) because I did manage to see this early, even if it was only the night before general release. Honestly, the movie did catch me by surprise a couple of times and I feel like I want everyone going in to have the same chance at that that I had.
Also, continuing with the Facebook blustering: do not expect me to call the superhero “Shazam” at any point in this review. The movie is named Shazam! The wizard is named Shazam. The superhero is named Captain Marvel, and I don’t give a damn what DC or Warner Brothers’ legal departments have to say about that. If having two superheroes named Captain Marvel confuses you in a world where three superheroes are played by blond white men named Chris, I can’t help you.
I also have bad news for you about who the real “Captain Marvel” actually is.
So. Yeah. Go see it. Go see it go see it GO SEE IT GO SEE IT GO SEE IT RIGHT NOW. This is exactly– exactly— the movie that I wanted to see, and you should go see it right now.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, standard disclaimers; I get enthusiastic. But I’m having a really hard time right now imagining how a movie about this Captain Marvel could have been any better than this one was, and I’m starting to have some hope that at least some corners of the people involved in making movies for DC have a clue about what they’re doing. They’ve now produced two great movies (Wonder Woman and Shazam!) and one (Aquaman) that … well, wasn’t actually good really but was awfully enthusiastic and fun. Okay, the rest of them have all been some flavor of hot garbage, but … progress, right?
Here’s the thing: You can’t do grimdark Captain Marvel. You just can’t. It doesn’t work unless, like in Kingdom Come, the point is that absolutely everything has been corrupted and fucked up. Captain Marvel’s childlike innocence and faith are at the core of the character, and while they’ve wisely made Billy Batson a bit older than usual for this movie they still get what he’s supposed to be. Much like Wonder Woman, this movie actually understands the character they’re making a movie about(*), and it remembers the very fucking important fact that Captain Marvel is supposed to be a Goddamned superhero and superheroes are supposed to save people.
And they kept Zach Snyder and his cancerous-ass direction as far away from this movie as they could, and they did it a hundred percent right, and they very much should be rewarded for it. I want this movie to make a lot of money, and I want the people responsible for DC’s movies to learn from it, dammit. There is no trace of the Murderverse in this movie. It’s wonderful.
The acting in the film is across-the-board phenomenal, particularly the two leads and the kid who plays Freddy Freeman, and if the movie has a flaw it’s that Freddy almost seems like he’d make a better Captain Marvel than Billy Batson does. He’s the heart of the film, though, and while Captain Marvel is an inherently cheesy superhero (one of his nicknames is literally The Big Red Cheese, y’all) the movie dips into the cheesiness without ever being overwhelmed by it. The action is well-shot, the effects are phenomenal, and– rather unexpectedly– the bad guy and his minions are scary as hell, to the point where I’d caution against taking anyone under 10 to see this without previewing it first. It’s PG-13 for a reason. Is it weird that a movie about a kid superhero can’t be seen by kids? Maybe a little, but again: they aged Billy up a little bit and the movie is a bit more mature than one with an 11- or 12-year old Billy Batson might be. This movie isn’t PG-13 because they say “shit” a few times, even though they do. The movie is PG-13 because Dr. Sivana is too scary for a PG villain.
If you are the type to be irritated by Superhero Physics, where a bus can fall off a bridge and be caught by a man standing underneath the bridge and no one in the bus is harmed because the superhero caught the bus … well, remember that Captain Marvel’s powers are literally magical and maybe be prepared to have to roll with that. Because there is a lot of Superhero Physics in this movie. He’s magic. You’ll be OK.
So, yeah: we’re seeing a great trend recently, with Into the Spider-Verse and now Shazam!, where studios that aren’t Marvel are finally starting to figure out how to make superhero movies that aren’t crap. This is what we’ve been telling them we want, guys. Reward good behavior, and go see this one.
(*) Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry is not remotely the Arthur Curry from the comic books, but frankly Aquaman himself has always been treated as such a flat character that it barely even registers. I’ve been reading comics since I was nine and I couldn’t tell you how Aquaman might react to a situation differently from any random human selected from the side of the road other than a vague commitment to environmentalism. I can’t tell you how a movie that “gets” Aquaman might look different from one that doesn’t. I can for damn sure do that for most of the rest of DC’s heroes, and they’ve fallen down repeatedly on this front.
My wife and I get to see Shazam a little bit early tonight, which is super cool. I kinda lucked out getting the tickets; the folks at the comic shop had an extra pair that a customer had given them to “give to a good home,” and I guess we’re a good home.
I’m spending the day fiddling around the house trying to accomplish minor things– the impending end of my Spring Break is starting to weigh on me a bit– so in lieu of an actual post today, have this Superman/Captain Marvel short comic, which I found on imgur yesterday and am frantically trying to find the source material for because I must own it. “Who did this to you?” is the most Superman reaction ever:
(Oh, what the hell– while I’m at it, these pages from Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come, one of the best Superman/Captain Marvel stories ever published. Context: it’s in the future, Superman has returned from retirement, and Captain Marvel has been brainwashed into villainy by Lex Luthor, which is why they’re fighting.)
I never saw Aquaman in theaters. Not for any particular reason; I don’t hate the movie version of the character the way I do Angry Rodent Ninja or the Murder Alien. We just didn’t prioritize it the way we would have a Marvel movie, and then it was out of theaters and we had to rent it on iTunes. I realized very quickly that there was only going to be one way for me to watch it. I am hoping that making this into a blog post does not take sixteen hours and make me crazy.
That took a really long time, so I hope you all enjoyed it.
And by “let’s talk,” what I really mean is “I’m going to talk, and you’re going to listen,” because while I probably should not stoop to taking the bait here, the manbabies have gotten on my nerves again, and this time they’re taking people who don’t particularly pay attention to Marvel movies with them, and the result is a whole lot of dumb for what is actually a perfectly goddamned rational decision and I am tired of it and this is my blog and it’s this or telling you to send money to Pete Buttigieg again so siddown and read goddammit.
Nick Fury’s pet project for all of Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was to get the Avengers Initiative up and running. We see at the end of Captain Marvel that she is the literal inspiration for the Avengers. That she named the goddamn Avengers, in fact. Nick Fury is not present for the finale of any of the Phase One MCU films, and most of them, frankly, have minor stakes. The one with the highest stakes is Captain America: the First Avenger, but Fury doesn’t have a big role in that film because it’s set in 1945.
Why does he not call Captain Marvel at the end of Avengers, when aliens are invading Earth? Because the goddamn Avengers are there. That’s his whole damn deal. The Avengers can protect Earth from threats that conventional military can’t. He blatantly uses Agent Coulson’s death to manipulate the team into pulling together, remember? There’s no way he calls Captain Marvel down to rescue his team on their first major mission together unless they blow it, and they don’t.
The Phase Two movies are Iron Man 3, which does not feature a world-ending emergency, Thor: The Dark World, which does not take place on Earth, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which features SHIELD crumbling into tiny little bits and isn’t really a thing that Captain Marvel could have helped with much, Guardians of the Galaxy, which also doesn’t take place on Earth, and Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, where, again, Fury has the Avengers, who have shit well in hand and Captain Marvel’s “for emergencies only” beeper is not necessary. After Age of Ultron but before Phase 3 we have Ant-Man, which he doesn’t appear in, and Captain Marvel is not required to beat up Yellowjacket at the end of the film.
Phase 3 is much of the same. Three films (Guardians 2, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther) take place in either outer space or a part of Earth that Fury has no way to reach. Captain America: Civil War, despite being a tremendously important character movie, has such low stakes that I bet you can’t name the villain. Fury doesn’t appear in Doctor Strange or Spider-Man: Homecoming, and wouldn’t have used the pager if he had.
And then he uses the pager in Infinity War. Why? Because the Avengers are no longer a thing, because they make sure to have Maria Hill point out that Tony Stark is missing right away, and because there has already been an alien invasion in New York and wherever in Germany (right?) the Vision and Scarlet Witch were, and by the time they hear about the battle in Wakanda they know that it’s “ten times” the size of the initial NYC invasion …
… and then Maria Hill dies right in front of him. And it’s abundantly clear that some serious shit is going on, and the helicopter crashes, and at that point he practically knocks somebody over to get to the backseat of the SUV they’re driving to get to the beeper and summon Captain Marvel immediately, because now we have a fucking emergency, y’all. Because we very clearly need somebody, and the movie has made sure to set things up to make it equally clear that they have nobody. Remember: he doesn’t even know Thor and Hulk are on Earth. He doesn’t know where Cap is. He’s got nobody, so he calls Captain Marvel.
Because, yes, this really is the first “emergency” we’ve seen since he got handed the beeper.