Wherein there are minor spoilers. Really, I don’t know how you can do it otherwise….
In the toxic fever-swamp that is sci-fi/comic book fandom these days, it only takes one innocent remark to set off a tsunami of stupid. So it was with Brie Larson, star of Captain Marvel, when she expressed a wish for more diversity in movie reviews. This rather innocuous remark triggered a host of crying man-babies, mostly from the right of fandom, talking about how Larson was against men and how the film should be boycotted and how it was going to tank at the box-office and take the MCU and Marvel and Disney and maybe the planet with it. To a large extent these are the same trolls that then intentionally set out to sabotage the Rotten Tomatoes ratings for the film as a way to poison the well, long before any of them had ever seen the movie.
Ha, ha, ha.
Even with an anticipated drop-off for the second weekend, Captain Marvel should easily make its money back in the very near future, considering that, as of today, Box Office Mojo shows it with a world-wide total earnings of about $550 million. So much for that.
The sad thing is that this sort of whining political stupidity has become something of the new normal in fandom. Between the Sad Puppies and Gamergate and the wholly unhinged reaction in some quarters to the The Last Jedi, blah, blah, blah, fans who just want to connect with good, enjoyable content have to negotiate a festering landscape populated by entirely unreasonable trolls who see left-wing, anti-man conspiracies everywhere. These goombahs, of course, are merely a specific thread of the greater alt-right narrative distorting our public discourse and popular culture at the moment. You wish you could just ignore them, but that’s rather like trying to ignore someone flicking a cigarette lighter in a room filled with flammable gas. At some point you need to yell, “Knock it off!”, if only for your personal survival.
Whew– enough of that. I would like to say a few words about the movie itself. Somewhat at the risk of setting off more swamp-gas flares, but you can’t let the trolls silence you, either.
So, the 4-1-1, the bottom line, the skinny– Captain Marvel is a good movie. Not a great movie, not Infinity War, or War and Peace, or Citizen Kane. It’s a good, mid-rank Marvel movie that accomplishes the main thing it sets out to do– establish the character of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel and help us understand why she’s going to be very, very important in Avengers: End Game (yeah, new trailer, yippee! Ahem.).
It does so by starting out pretty much in media res, with Carol (called ‘Vers’) already on the Kree homeworld of Hala, already a part of the the Kree Starforce, but troubled by dreams of a possible former life she doesn’t remember. From there she ends up the captive of a group of Skrulls, perpetual enemies of the Kree, and is taken to Earth, where she attempts to track down the Skrull infiltrators, while connecting with early editions of Nick Fury and Shield, who help her begin to piece together her past. This leads her to a rather startling discovery that causes her to question what she has been told, and who she can trust.
On the whole, this story line works, but the first time I saw the film I thought its first half was off in terms of tone. Danvers is not nearly as much a fish out of water on the primitive Earth of 1995 as I thought she should have been, and her relationship with Fury is a little too easygoing for a pair of people, one of whom is a spy and the other an ‘alien’ warrior, who have just met. I was a little concerned that the movie wasn’t going to fulfill the minimum necessary requirements to make Carol the hero she needs to be for the final confrontation with Thanos in End Game.
But then there came a rather nifty mid-film twist, Carol gets her lost history filled in, and she realizes that she has been lied to and manipulated for the six years she has been gone from Earth. This sets up a really satisfying climactic confrontation in which Carol realizes her full power, and makes her the hero she needs to be. By the way, do not skip out on the mid and post-credit scenes. The mid-credit snippet is almost worth the price of admission by itself.
So, a slow start, but the film picks up and finishes pretty strong. It doesn’t hit every note I would have preferred, and I would have handled the first half differently, but they aren’t paying little old (emphasis on the ‘old’) me to direct these films. Which is, admittedly, probably a good thing. Captain Marvel is not Infinity War, but neither is it Thor: The Dark World. Which I still liked, but it did have issues. Not all MCU movies are created equal, and I’m just fine with that.
There is one aspect of the film, however, that positively disappointed me– the way Fury loses his eye. Lame. Sorry, I was expecting more.
But, on the whole, go see the film. It’s good, and it’s really about as solid a prologue for End Game as we could hope for. I am really looking forward to seeing Brie Larson as Captain Marvel in that film, in ensemble with all the other great characters of the MCU, as they bring this story line to a thundering conclusion. We live in glorious times, despite the trolls.