ReelReviews #134: Captain Marvel (2019)


MARCH 7, 2019: Captain Marvel



It’s kind of sad that the anti-sjw’s have gotten as triggerable as the sjw’s.

– Internet reviewer ‘Paradox’ on the reaction to the film


The above quote summarizes the problem with the toxic atmosphere behind the release of this film. No critic can give an honest review without their exterior motives being questioned. No audience member who has read ANY internet discussion of this movie at all can put it aside and look at the movie objectively at face value. Congratulations guys, you’ve broke the internet! What have you gained with that?


I wish it hadn’t been this way. Captain Marvel is yet another film is the long running Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, the penultimate film before “Avengers: Infinity War” concludes its much discussed cliffhanger and moves on to another phase of that universe. What should have been a cute, breezy side-film filled with 90s nostalgia has instead become an online battleground over whether the movie is “third wave feminism propaganda”  that exists to demean and attack males, an accusation that certainly hasn’t been helped by the attitude of its lead star, Brie Larson.  This toxic atmosphere resulted in me being viciously attacked and bashed just for having pre-ordered tickets to the opening weekend premiere and refusing to cancel my premiere night after it was “discovered” how “anti-male” the film is.  How could I financially support such an insidious film that slanders my OWN gender? TRAITOR! The idea that SOMEONE might want to just see the film on its own merits and draw my OWN conclusions from what’s actually ON SCREEN was simply not an option, apparently.  In any case, for the sake my audience, I did go ahead and bravely press ahead to see exactly how “bad” this film would be.


Well, now that four days have passed, here are my honest thoughts: Captain Marvel is NOT bad – it’s good. Furthermore, it is NOT – let me repeat that – NOT “anti-male feminist propaganda”. The naysayers can scream otherwise until they are blue in the face, but what we saw on screen simply wasn’t there to bash the male gender. I am reminded of all the hysteria from 2013 claiming Frozen was secretly gay propaganda ‘used to indoctrinate children into the homosexual lifestyle’, which simply wasn’t there.  I am also reminded of a quote from Dee Snider of the rock band Twister Sister made when he was accused of promoting “Sadomasochism” in his music by Tipper Gore (wife of Al Gore) during the 1985 U.S. Senate hearings on the music industry: “I can categorically say that the only sadomasochism, bondage, and rape in this song is in the mind of Mrs. Gore.  Mrs. Gore was looking for sadomasochism and bondage, and she found it.”


All that being said… I can’t give this film a glowing review.  It’s decent, fun, and has a number of positives to recommend the film, but it’s not the kind of the movie that is particularly memorable or worthy of seeing on the big screen.  As far as Marvel movies go, I would rank it as average. It’s better than disappointing “meh” movies like Iron Man 2 and Age of Ultron, but it’s not in the same league as really fresh and creative movies like Captain America: Winter Solider or the original Iron Man that kicked off the entire cinematic universe to begin with.


What really works well in Captain Marvel is that it’s a prequel that neatly ties into the original material for a change, and it HEAVILY evokes  1990s nostalgia with a soundtrack and setting that is sure to bring back memories for audience members that grew up in that era. Nostalgia sells in Hollywood, and just as the Disney Star Wars brought in people who said the original 70s film was “part of my childhood”, and just as American Graffiti wowed over audiences who went to High School  in the late 50s and early 60s,  Captain Marvel is bound to appeal to people who came of age during the era of AOL dial-up, pagers, and No Doubt concerts. The film also has some amazing de-aging CGI that makes actors Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg look exactly like their 1995 counterparts.


Without giving away any specific “spoilers”, two other elements that worked well was a wonderful Stan Lee tribute in the opening credits, and a really well done twist halfway thru the film that I never saw coming until it slammed me right in the face.  In fact, some of the criticism that I imagine could be thrown at the movie – that the first 20 minutes is rather erratic, scattershot, and hard to follow – and that the already established characters of Nick Fury and Agent Coulson seem a bit overwhelmed and unsure of themselves – work perfectly well in the context of the movie, as the erratic flashbacks turn out to be an important plot point later on, and the film presents an c. 1995 time frame where it literally is the previously established characters “first time at the rodeo” and they are caught in a bizarre situation they could have never dreamed of.   Indeed, most of Nick Fury’s missteps in this movie can be chalked up to the fact it’s the first time he’s ever encountered extraterrestrial beings with superpowers — NOT because he’s a toxic masculinity character who needs a strong ‘womyn’ figure to save the day.


What doesn’t work so well in Captain Marvel is honestly Captain Marvel herself.  She’s not a “bad” character – and she has a pretty amazing superpower and is definitely a kick-butt-and-take-names kind of badass figure, but it’s easy to see why Wonder Woman has been an iconic female superhero while Captain Marvel is one of the Marvel comics’ also-rans.  The much polarizing Brie Larson does a decent job on screen with the material she’s given, and I look forward to seeing Captain Marvel in the MCU again, but she is simply no Iron Man or Captain America.  The naysayers blasting this movie will taunt “Wonder Woman was better!”, and there may honestly be something to say for that (I haven’t seen the film adaptation of Wonder Woman so I can’t comment), but if you were compare the whole “female empowerment!” marketing campaign in this film compared to how it was played up in Wonder Woman, it was about 10X as prominent in the latter movie (remember the endless gushing over Patty Jenkins being a female director?), which makes the people screaming “Feminist propaganda!!” at this film to be just a tad hypocritical.   The same is also true of Brie Larson herself. Yes, she has used her “fame” in this movie as a soap box to promote her very “progressive” beliefs.  But for those screaming “BOYCOTT!” at the film over that, I suggest they read up on the actor who replaced Edward Norton as The Incredible Hulk.  As a “social justice activist”, he is much worse than Brie Larson EVER was (Mark Ruffalo was the only white actor I recall boycotting the Oscars because they were “too white”), but did anyone call for a boycott of the Avengers due to Mark Ruffalo’s off screen actions? I think not.


What I think is unfortunate is the “Captain Marvel is SJW propaganda!!” naysayers had so much invested in “proving” this film was the “Worst Marvel Movie Ever” and hoping it would fail that they will never admit they were wrong, regardless of the actual content we got on screen. A friend of mine noted that sometimes a person’s perspective of a film can change after you reflect on the movie a few days after seeing it. That’s very true. What reflecting on this film made me realize, however, is that the naysayers honestly don’t care about what is presented at face value. I have little doubt that they will spend months after the film was released taking random snippets of dialogue out of context and analyzing characters actions in random scenes to “prove” there’s some insidious SJW current under neither to slander and embarrass white males. Thus, I return to the original premise of my review:  it’s a sad day when the anti-SJWs have become as triggable as the SJWs.  Just as the SJWs had little interest in what Chick-Fil-A actually does and just wanted to go on a crusade “proving” its owner and CEO was “homophobic and hates gay people” based on one comment he said, so do the anti-SJWs are on a crusade to destroy Captain Marvel because Brie Larson made one snide remark that they don’t like.


Since Captain Marvel is just a “yeah, it was fun” film and not a great one, I don’t see it as a hill to die on.  In fact, the best character in this movie is a pet cat. While that alone was worth the price of admission, it certainly wasn’t the best thing to come out of Marvel. Anyone who wants to “boycott” the movie is free to do so, though the only thing they’re hurting is themselves since they’re going to have a hard time following the MCU from now on if they don’t know what happened during this film.  Trolls screaming “ZOMG WURST MARVEL M0VIE EVAR!!” aside, mildly positive word of mouth is what this film is getting, what it deserves, and will probably result in it making a decent profit.  I just wish those of us who were curious about this film were given the same courtesy as we had before this hysteria began.  There is no one more anti-SJW than me, and IF this film were two hours of putting down the male gender, I’d be the first to say so. It’s not when the film is viewed on its own merits.  The same crowd who bashes this movie rightfully bashes the direction that Star Trek and Star Wars has taken in recent years, but the difference we were ALLOWED to view those projects ON THEIR OWN MERITS FIRST. Yes, I “thought” The Vulcan Hello would be bad, but I tried to be as open minded as I could and go into the pilot WILLING to give the show a chance to demonstrate otherwise.  What I got was an incoherent garbled mess and thus I KNEW my qualms about the show were legitimate.   Why aren’t the naysayers of Captain Marvel willing to give it the same benefit of the doubt?


The biggest problem with SJWs is that their side tends to engage in groupthink and a hive mind of blindly drawing conclusions about something. Stooping to their level isn’t going to do the anti-SJWs any good. Love Captain Marvel, Hate Captain Marvel, be Indifferent about Captain Marvel, but just ALLOW people to judge the film on its own, mmmmkay?


** 1/2  out of ****