CAPTAIN MARVEL (8 out of 10) Written and Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck; Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Benning, Jude Law, and Lashana Lynch; Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language; Running time 124 minutes; In wide release March 8, 2019.
Before I get to my review, here are notes from my life that will make you think there’s a recipe at the end.
I picked up Captain Marvel #2 in 2012 because of the cover. The titular character doing a Rosie the Riveter pose with no other distractions caught my eye, it was the first comic I ever picked up on my own out of my own interest. I have been hooked (read: obsessed) ever since. I remember in 2014 when it was announced that Captain Marvel was on Marvel’s upcoming slate of movies, I gasped and said “no way.” I watched a live stream in 2016 of the Marvel panel at SDCC because it was rumored they would announce Brie Larson as Carol Danvers (they did, but they did her bad by half-heartedly remembering they had to announce her at the end). As 2019 approached, I’ve been excited to the point of tears and sickness with each new set image, trailer, and toy release.
I don’t share these things with you because I claim to be the biggest, bestest fan. I share these things because I want you to understand my excitement. Finally, finally, I and women like me get to see us on the screen in the MCU. A woman with her own movie, her own story, finally joins this decade-old franchise. I, a female comic reader, get to see my comics brought to life on screen.
To the point: Captain Marvel is for a specific audience. Captain Marvel is for the MCU stans who have been with it since the beginning, or at least since GotG. As a standalone origin movie, it stumbles (much like Carol oh no I’m connecting dots) and tries to simplify a complex conflict in less than two hours. Some soundtrack drops, welcome nostalgically as they are, seem out of place. We are also constantly reminded this takes place in the '90s. Did you see the site? As a Captain Marvel character movie though…
Bless the writer/director team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck for utilizing Kelly Sue Deconnick (the writer who brought us the version of Carol as we know her today) as a consultant on this film. This Carol Danvers we see on screen was plucked from the comics and brought to sweet, snarky life. Elements of her story including an older pilot she admires, sarcastic wit, failings to have control over her powers, and even a refugee crisis are present.
Actors that steal the show are...all of them. Every actor owns their performance and even surprises me. I’ve always considered Gemma Chan a little too stoic and fragile, but she absolutely changed my opinion after seeing her kick ass as Minn-Erva. Ben Mendelsohn takes the usual “bad guy” trope and flips it. He’s humorous, not the rigid and angry villain we are used to seeing in Marvel origin stories. Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau is given so much more to do than play "someone that Carol knew once." Goose the cat does cat things (and non-cat things) and as a cat lady, I thoroughly support any Goose endeavor.
Marvel seems to be leaning into the misleading trailers idea, as they did with Infinity War. I have wasted hours of my life pouring over screenshots and YouTube breakdowns of the trailers leading up to Captain Marvel, but I’m pleased to say that not everything is as it seems in the previews. If this is the case and Marvel is starting to use false scenes, I salute them. I think it’s a genius idea. Keep us die hard theorists busy while working behind the scenes on the actual MCU timeline. Do I feel cheated out of those missing hours of my life? Absolutely not. The kind of crazy-theorist behavior makes me who I am and honestly much more knowledgeable about the lore these movies pull from.
As I was driving home, I thought about how Captain Marvel doesn’t follow the standard origin story formula and why I felt there was so much left that could have been said. We should have seen her struggles in the Air Force. We should have seen her overcome trials and tribulations of the time. But, at the same time, those steps are used so often in storytelling because we want to see women prove themselves. We want to answer the internalized misogynistic question, “why does she deserve to be a hero?” I answered my own doubts with the same realization Carol comes to: she doesn’t have to prove herself to anyone.
This movie doesn’t need to prove itself to anyone. Fans don’t need to prove themselves to be fans. Captain Marvel, whether you like it or not, is here and ready to fight--regardless of if you think she’s capable or not.
And, as promised from the beginning, here is a recipe. Actually, it’s a link to recipes courtesy of Dole who has put together a series of dishes specifically for the Captain Marvel release!