Just in time to be very late for the BluRay release, I thought I’d do my own review of Captain Marvel: The Movie. (That’s the Carol Danvers Marvel Captain Marvel, not the Billy Batson DC Captain Marvel, which is called Shazam! and is actually pretty good.) (I’ll try to keep this spoiler-free. I’ll fail.)
I’ll start with an aside: a lot of people seem to wonder what year exactly it’s set, or if it’s even stated. At one point, Nick Fury says that a plane crash “happened 6 years ago in 1989”. I’ll leave the maths to you.
The major theme of the movie is deception; it’s a running idea throughout, not just because the villains are shapeshifters. Maybe the villains are shapeshifters to suit the theme? Most of the problems are solved through deception; most are caused by it.
There’s also some ‘don’t trust the government’ in there, which ties into the deception theme.
Captain Marvel builds suspense well, and gives you a mystery to hook onto: what is Carol’s backstory? You keep seeing snippets, so you know there is one, but you never quite get it all until the movie wants you to.
There’s a scene towards the beginning (you see the start of this in the trailer) where she starts beating up on an old lady on a train. (Those who saw the trailer without knowing what Skrulls are probably wondered what was going on.) In the movie, the men on the train started to help this poor little old lady. I always like when supehero movies show ordinary people being heroic (even if it was misguided in this case).
Similarly, towards the end, there’s a most triumphant scene where the Kree tell her she’s only human; but she doesn’t forget her second wind. It’s very stirring.
I love Carol’s banter throughout. The way she talks to Fury is great; for example, when she tricks him (deception!) into revealing a personal secret (and start years of conspiracy theories about the MCU), and he says “You didn’t need that, did you?” Carol answers with a wry smile and a “No, but I enjoyed it.”
I keep wondering if it’s an Easter egg when Fury says “I know a rogue soldier when I see one.” Is that a reference to Rogue, who absorbed Carol in the comics? Maybe?
One of the most common super in comics is blasts of energy from the hands.
Thing is, for something so common, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done in a live-action theatrical movie before. Is this the first? If so, it’s very late in the game. I think The Ray used them in DC’s Crisis On Earth-X, but I don’t remember them on the big screen.
The Skrulls are handled decently (with a couple of odd twists), but there are some weird changes from the comics: Goose was named Chewie in the comics; why the change? (Carol’s in the Air Force in the comics, too.) It’s not like they were worried about copyright. And Mar-Vell is completely different to his/her comics incarnation.
The Supreme Intelligence in the comics, where is a big green head. This version isn’t bad, even if it’s something we’ve seen done before, but I think they could’ve realised the ‘right’ one on screen, and done it well. Though it does add to the deceptiveness, and gives a clue to Carol’s past.
When they reveal Yon-Rogg’s vision of the Supreme Intelligence (why don’t they tell each other who it looks like?), it’s a cute idea that will resonate with fans of Red Dwarf. Unfortunately, it was relegated to the deleted scenes.
The Skrulls look pretty good; they’re fairly comics-accurate, though they’ve been embellished. The chin-grooves could probably be more enhanced, but no complaints.
The first time you see them shapeshift into humans, their voices don’t change. I thought that was weird (and would make them terrible shapeshifters), but then I realised: they were imitating people whose voices they’d never heard. Suddenly, it made some sense.
When I did hear them speak, though, I was shocked. All this time, all those appearances of Talos I have (well, one), and I never knew: the Skrulls are from Australia?
It wasn’t just surprising; it made me nervous. I first saw Captain Marvel in a tiny monoplex theatre in a small town in Colorado. As probably the only Australian there, I was worried I’d get accused of being a Skrull.
So far, I’ve been talking a lot about what’s good. Not everything is:
Sometimes they’re inconsistent with how they handle things like alien cultures. At one point, Talos says: “That’s not a cat, it’s a flerkin.” Not very long after, the very same Talos says: “What’s a cat?”
Worse, there’s a scene where Nick asks Carol: “Are you familiar with the phrase ‘welcome wagon’?” Carol answers: “No.” Maybe five minutes later, in the same scene, Carol says: “I didn’t want to steal your thunder.” What idioms is she familiar with? Or get translated? (Some of the pure also Kree use English idioms.) These aren’t major plot holes or anything, but they make it inconsistent.
The inconsistencies aren’t just internal, I think. In Captain Marvel, the Kree use guns willy-nilly; but there are characters in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 who I could swear were Kree who hate the idea of guns: they think ranged weapons are dishonourable. Or am I confused? Were those not Kree? Were they the only Kree who feel that way?
The Mohawk helmet looks no better on screen than in the comics, but I like the rest of the Captain Marvel costume. (She’s never actually called that in the movie, by the way.)
Sometimes the movie tries too hard sometimes to be Guardians Of The Galaxy; mostly when Goose lifts a scene straight from Groot, then they follow up with a battle to a pop song. (Though using a similar ship design for the Kree in both movies makes a lot of sense.)
Sometimes the CG doesn’t work – most scenes with the cat in CG, and almost all of Carol’s flying scenes look a little off.
There is no Christian representation in Captain Marvel. To an extent, that makes sense, since most of the characters are aliens and wouldn’t have the cultural background, but there are enough Earthicans that they could’ve slipped some in there.
The score is decent. Neither really good nor really bad; a lot of Marvel’s scores are like that, though they’ve been getting better lately.
One of my weird habits is, when I buy a movie or TV show on home media, I always buy the soundtrack if possible; preferably on CD.
The soundtrack to Captain Marvel was only available through iTunes – at the same price as a CD. That was really frustrating. Why did we make the switch to digital again? (My copy was a gift.)
And why was there no pop song soundtrack? They could’ve made a great album, with all the songs from the movie.
The MCU has made better movies, they’ve made worse. The good things are very good; the bad things aren’t too bad. It’s fun to watch, though it takes some liberties with the comics. There aren’t enough of those to tear it down, and no more than other Marvel movies.
Overall, a solid entry into the MCU.