I don’t think I’m actually going to review it. It’s possible I’ll change my mind, but right now it’s just not that high on my priority list. Go read John Scalzi’s review if you like, which is close enough to what I’d have said as to serve as an adequate substitute.
Going to try my damnedest to enforce a total internet blackout until I see Avengers: Endgame Friday night.
In related news, Avengers: Endgame comes out Friday night.
See y’all on the other side.
TRIGGER WARNING: HEAVY GEEK CONTENT.
Let’s talk about Nick Fury’s beeper.
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.
Now shut up.
Traditional Facebook Blurb Spoiler-Free Bluster Zone: The one very very minor spoiler that I wanted to make sure I knew before going into Captain Marvel was whether Stan Lee had a cameo in it or not. I wasn’t sure how the filming schedule timed out with his passing last year, and I know they tend to film his cameos in bunches, so it wasn’t immediately clear. I discovered two things: one, there was “a tribute” to him immediately, and two, yes, there was a cameo, and there will be one more, for a film that hasn’t been named yet but, c’mon, it’s Avengers: Endgame, because of course it is.
Well, for quite possibly the first time in human history the goddamn production company’s five-second logo video made half the audience cry. Like, I’m struggling right now writing about it. It was perfect. And his cameo is perfect, too– apparently they reshot Larson’s reaction to him after he passed away, and that little smile on her face when she sees him is a deliberate change to acknowledge that he was gone– even if it introduces a hilariously complicated rat’s nest of continuity craziness if you start thinking about it.
Okay, that’s probably long enough. Spoilers ho, y’all. Everything. And, really, this movie does have a nice twist or two, especially if you were already a comic book person going in. If you aren’t, less so.
I’ll put the tl;dr in the first paragraph: While I love the character, and this movie’s high points are tremendous, overall this is a high second-tier Marvel film for me; that first tier being in no particular order Iron Man, Avengers, Infinity War, Winter Soldier, Civil War and Black Panther. This movie has an awful lot of fucking work to do, and in a lot of ways that ends up dragging the overall experience down a bit.
- Brie Larson. I was neutral on her casting at first– my preferred actress would have been Katee Sackhoff, and I wasn’t familiar with Larson at all, but she’s great in the role. Just great.
- Lashana Lynch and Akira Akbar, who play Maria and Monica Rambeau, respectively. Their relationship is great, their relationship to Carol Danvers is great, and as someone who has been clamoring to see my Captain Marvel on screen for over a decade, I was literally jumping up and down when I found out Monica was actually in the movie. I presume that we’ll see her, unfortunately portrayed by an older actress, in Endgame or another future film, but Akira Akbar is amazing, guys. Loved every second these two were on screen.
- Goose the cat, and actually getting to hear the line “That’s not a cat, that’s a flerken!” uttered by one of the characters on-screen.
- The twist with the Skrulls was great; I had commented to my wife on the drive to the theater that I was a little bit worried because in general as a storytelling device I find the Skrulls kind of tiring because every single fucking thing always boils down to “Is he a Skrull? Is she a Skrull? How long has he been a Skrull? How long has she been a Skrull?” and there’s a little bit of that but they actually manage to come up with a way to use them that was fresh and genuinely unexpected.
- Despite my reservations on the whole memory-loss thing, I found Captain Marvel’s overall arc in the story to be pretty damn good, and by the end of the movie she is absolutely the hero I wanted her to be. I just wish the trailers hadn’t spoiled the “getting up” sequence from the end of the film, because it ends up being pretty damn pivotal and I’d have preferred to be seeing it for the first time on screen.
- Similarly, having Annette Benning be Mar-Vell and not Jude Law like everyone assumed was a nice touch.
- Did I mention there’s a flerken in this movie? Because that’s a flerken. My wife has been so confused with my insistence on yelling “FLERKEN!” every time any trace of cat shows up in any of the promo stuff for this movie. She gets it now, and she wants an orange cat.
- If God loves me, there will be at least a brief sequence between Rocket and Goose in Endgame.
- I really like the relationship between CM and Nick Fury, and I like the subtle way that Sam Jackson plays Fury as younger, less burdened, and a much looser character. If anything I feel like this part of the movie could have used a few more minutes.
- Nice touch, releasing the film on International Women’s Day.
Stuff that I maybe didn’t like quite as much:
- As I said, this movie’s got a lot of work to do, and has a lot of elements piled on top of it: HEY LOOK! IT’S THE NINETIES! HEY LOOK! SAM JACKSON AND CLARK GREGG ARE WAY YOUNGER! HEY LOOK! NICK FURY DOESN’T HAVE HIS EYEPATCH! I WONDER WHEN HE’S GONNA LOSE HIS EYE? HEY LOOK! ORIGIN STORY! HEY LOOK! IT’S THE TESSERACT, AND YOU’RE EVENTUALLY GONNA FIGURE OUT THAT THE TIMELINE IS CONSISTENT BUT IT’S GONNA TAKE A MINUTE! HEY LOOK! SHAPESHIFTING ALIENS! HEY LOOK! MEMORY LOSS STORY! And a lot of these things are kind of distracting, and ultimately the weight of all this extra shit just kinda drags the film down in a way that weirdly I don’t want to blame on the movie itself, but I should, because it’s not like Marvel didn’t decide to put all this stuff in there, and they could have made different storytelling decisions, up to and including not waiting over ten years and 20 movies to introduce Captain fucking Marvel to the MCU.
- Look at how long that sentence is. Jesus.
- Because of all this, the movie needed some more space to breathe at a couple of points that it didn’t get. It moves fast, and while I did like the relationship between Danvers and Fury they just flat trust each other too goddamn fast because they have to to keep the story moving. Similarly, I would actually like to have seen some more of Carol’s time as an Air Force cadet, but I understand why it’s not in there (and the single line “you know why it’s called a cockpit, right?” does a lot of work.)
- And it puts some weird pressures on Endgame, too, right? Like, part of me kind of expects Endgame to be, if not Captain Marvel 2, at least Captain Marvel 1.5. I love that they included Monica Rambeau as a ten-year-old in this movie but if they didn’t put Monica Rambeau as a grown-ass woman with awesome powers into Endgame I’m gonna be pissed. And the whole Rocket/Goose thing. And I know Endgame is already three hours long and I’m pretty sure it still doesn’t have time to tie up loose ends from Captain Marvel.
- WHERE THE FUCK IS KAMALA KHAN okay she hasn’t actually been born yet STILL DAMMIT
- (A way around this: I’ve talked about how I want to see Riri Williams in the stingers for Endgame. If Endgame has, like, six stingers, each doing a brief intro for a new MCU character picking up the reins after Captain America and Iron Man die heroically, I will be a very happy man who is crying like a tiny baby.)
- Captain Marvel being the actual first Avenger, and not Captain America, is both kinda goofy and kinda hilarious, because the manbabies were already mad about this movie and this is gonna make it so much worse.
- Not a huge deal, but why are all the Kree blue except for the actors who have enough clout to not want to be slathered in blue makeup? I’m good with them having a variety of skin shades, but it’s kinda strange that ALL of them are blue except for the two white ones and the one black one.
- So, are all the other Stans Lee that have shown up in all the other movies Skrulls? Because Stan Lee was playing Stan Lee in this movie, on his way to audition for a movie role where he plays himself. So are there Marvel Comics about the Marvel Comic characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since we have actual Stan Lee, who is important enough to still be in Mallrats SHUT UP BRAIN
I feel like I’m forgetting to talk about something important, so I reserve the right to add to this as the day goes on. Don’t get me wrong, guys; this is a good, solid Marvel movie, I’m just not doing backflips over it like I have several of the recent ones, and in this particular case the things that were odd or a little off are more personally interesting to talk about. And every dollar Captain Marvel earns makes a manbaby cry! That, in and of itself, is reason for all good Americans to go see this six times. So. Begone, and then come back and talk to me about it.
I get to see Captain Marvel in three days.