Captain Marvel (2019): A Quick Review…
Official Introduction: Set in the 1990s, Marvel Studios’Captain Marvel is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that follows the journey of Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes. While a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth, Danvers finds herself and a small cadre of allies at the center of the maelstrom.
BAR: Set pretty low, not super low, but certainly not high.
EXPECTATIONS: Totally exceeded.
BACKGROUND: So, Carol Danvers is an old Marvel character, first appearing alongside Mar-Vell in 1968. In the comics, her character has ranged from love interest, to gaining powers of her own, to losing them, to getting other powers. Her superhero name has changed a few times as well. She’s been known as Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird, and now Captain Marvel.
Carol Danvers has always been sort of a second or third tier Marvel character. Sure, she’s always been around some important moments, being part of the Avengers, the Starjammers. Or the Guardians. For the majority of her history, she’s never really been a star. Well, in the tradition of other MCU movies, you know all the others that took lower tier characters and made something out of them, this one does it as well. They changed a lot of the canon story of Carol Danvers along the way, but along with the other MCU films, they kept the flavor right. Even though this story has diverged a ton from the main Marvel storyline (the once since the 60’s), it never felt wrong.
FORMAT: This movie jumps around quite a bit in time, but it makes it work. Although it moves around, it aligns just perfectly with the rest of the MCU, and helps to frame later events. I was very happy with how it fit into the MCU. Keep in mind, the story has changed, but it respects the material, and it really works.
EFFECTS/FILMING: Man, I can only imagine where movies would be today if the effects and filming techniques they were able to use on this film were available 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Space effects, such as when Captain Marvel flies into space, the various space battles, etc, etc, are top notch. The most amazing thing about this movie, though, is the de-aging work that they did on Fury (there is a reason I called him that), and Coulson. It might not be 100% perfect, but man does it look good. It just points towards a world where we might see fully realized actors of any age working together. I have to say that between the work done in Guardians 2 on Kurt Russell, and now what we have in this, they are well on their way to nailing this down. Sam Jackson is 70, and they roll the wayback machine about 30 years on him. It isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t have the rubbery feel some earlier films had. They are just about there, and the next level will be totally re-constructing actors, sort of like in the movie Looker (that’s a deep old reference).
FUN: To me, this movie felt like it had nothing to lose. They were trying to make a lower tier character into something bigger. They did three things that were important 1) had fun, 2) respected the source material, and 3) had some serious quality production values. The great thing about this film (and the others in the MCU series), is that they have taken a reasonable story, and then executed the filming of it in a great way. The movie looks right. Where sometimes the costumes could have looked cheesy or cheap, the lighting and lensing made them look hot.
This is not to mention all of the inside jokes that come from this being a film that “took place” 20+ years ago. A Blockbuster Video and Radio Shack appear in major points of the film for instance. The music is a really solid selection from the 90’s, although a few songs seem to be outside of the timeframe of the film. This isn’t a problem overall, but I did wonder if they had the timing right.
CALLOUTS AND CAMEOS: Of course this movie had a Stan Lee cameo, but more importantly, they totally changed the Marvel intro to be a total celebration of him. It was very nicely done, and got a couple of tears, not to mention his cameo in the film (which was a cameo and a reference at the same time).
Minor Spoiler: OK, this isn’t really spoiling anything except some references to keep an eye out for. Early on, Captain Marvel ends up in a Blockbuster Video, and picks up a few videos. One is the film The Right Stuff. A little later on, she goes to a bar called Pancho’s. This is a clear call out, as the bar where all the test pilots in The Right Stuff hang out. Since Carol Danvers is a test pilot, this is a nice subtle way of pointing out that maybe she has the right stuff too. This isn’t the first time that that movie has been referenced in a film. In Independence Day, Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum walk out of the wreckage of their alien ship at the end of the film in a scene almost exactly like the one in which Chuck Yeager walks away from the wreckage of his NF-104, where Ridley is riding up, and the driver of the truck says, “Is that a man?” and Ridley replies, “You’re damn right it is.” Then some serious music kicks in and you see Yeager all burnt up, but walking tall. The Independence day reference is embarrassing, while this one was respectful. This was the manner in which they held the material in general. Even though aspects of Carol Danvers’ story were changed, but the important aspects were still respected, and I liked that! The filmmakers not only referenced that Carol Danvers was a test pilot, but also also respected the greatest movie about test pilots ever made.
GOOSE: Reggie, Gonzo, Archie, and Rizzo the cats who played Goose definitely steal the show. In case the reference has flown over your head, Goose is a reference to Maverick’s co-pilot from Top Gun. I am not the first or last person who will say this, but Goose is certainly a stand out in the film. His comedic timing is awesome, and he pops in at the right moments to add some flare to the film. (Yes, he rules, but no I don’t want one…)
THE PROBLEM (SORT OF SPOILER!): The Skrulls. That’s all I will say about that. I seriously dislike Skrulls. See how they are portrayed, let me know what you think… BTW Ben Mendelsohn did a great job!
FINAL CALL: I totally enjoyed this movie. Although it drifted away from the Marvel storyline as I understand it, what they did was respectful and a hell of a lot of fun. I have to say if you are into the MCU at all, go see it. It’s really good, and is 100% Marvel. Captain Marvel seemed outside the real Marvel-verse, but this brought her into it, and I am totally buying in. I didn’t want to, but I did. She delivered.
BTW: Check out the Website, done up in totally 90’s free website fashion 🙂 https://www.marvel.com/captainmarvel/