Renegade Review: Captain Marvel

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Renegade Review: Captain Marvel

Charlotte Mandy, Editor

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Captain Marvel has soared to the top of box office records as the sixth biggest movie opening of all time and highest global opening weekend for a female-led film. Set amidst galactic war and 90’s Earth, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) unravels her strange origin and the darker side to the Kree Empire that she serves. It follows the typical ‘Dawn of a Superhero’ arc — a woman realizes that her power, and her potential for good, is far greater than she had thought. It also comes at a time of building tension pre-Avengers: Endgame, when a new contender could tip the scales in the battle to come.

Though not my favorite, with a mix of flashy space action and slower, humor-driven Earth scenes, I found Captain Marvel another in a long line of MCU’s re-watchable origin stories.

A small but vocal group of critics inflated the controversy around it, accusing it of being feminist propaganda and “anti-white male” because of some of Larson’s tweets about her experiences with chauvinism, but if you’re a Marvel fan and you aren’t existentially violated by having a woman take center stage for the first time in the MCU, I think it’s a fun film.

With the charm of being somewhat a period piece, Captain Marvel is filled with iconic characters (like a younger, more trusting Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson) and Infinity War/Endgame-related appearances. It’s got a cat that steals the show, shape-shifting aliens, throwbacks and nods to the original Avengers, and a deep commentary on blind loyalty. What has been called in Larson ‘bland acting’ was more like deadpan snark, something typical of most Marvel heroes.

She’s confident and awed by her own abilities. She grows as a character. She blows up some stuff. What more could I ask for? I was entertained, and left anxious for Endgame. 

As far as its secret agenda, there is nothing secret about Marvel comics and films’ political undertones. Marvel has always told the story of the ‘new kid on the block,’ the unexpected heroes, and the complexity of human nature. Or inhuman nature, if you’re an alien.

Thor: Ragnarok followed immigrants and displaced peoples. Black Panther mentioned the effect of colonialism on modern black identities. Captain Marvel features women in the Air Force in the early 1990s, when women still weren’t allowed to fly combat missions. It’s a tension that works well with the central conflict — can someone be self-motivated enough to beat her limits? You can certainly like comic book movies for their action and their CGI, or their lovable heroes (and villains), without fixating on politics, but there’s always a real-world aspect to storytelling.

 

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