Captain Marvel ★★★

Captain Marvel works best as a giddy space romp in which Brie Larson's intergalactic superhero smiles numerous times and smirks at her own jokes and then crash lands on Earth and steals the motorcycle of the guy who pulls up next to her and asks her to smile after she doesn't return his. She does crash land into a 1990's Blockbuster, which is why Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury does refer to her as "Blockbuster Girl." It's a cute joke that obviously has double meaning as after 20 movies, the MCU finally centered one on a female character, all of fangirldom finally getting representation. And the movie is... like all Marvel movies really.

There's nothing big and heady here, even though Carol Danvers gets to obliterate a male villain who asks her to fight him without her superpowers, the superhero movie equivalent of Ben Shapiro demanding to be debated by a woman in public. But the first two acts are quite a lot of fun and the third act is atrociously overstuffed with a previous MCU character, Ronan (Lee Pace), arriving unnecessarily just so there can be another battle on top of the movie's primary battle. A newfound third act refugee story, and Carol Danvers using emotions as a strength (frequently levied against women as to why they can't lead as they're too "emotional"... seriously get the fuck outta here), all crack eggs and whip into the basic MCU third act omelette. What makes Captain Marvel different from other MCU films isn't that there's a woman in charge it's that it tries to find all the power of that in the third act while it does its normal thing of having too many fights go on at once to even register. It doesn't do a ton of emotional set-up lifting either as it prefers to make 90s quips, but those are enjoyable and form a nice bond between Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson (seriously, these two together in the movie and the press tour, are just a delight).

Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck get to do one unique thing in Captain Marvel and that's when her memory is mined for intel and we bounce through her memories into softball games, the Air Force, go-kart crashes, a whole slice of Americana where she's butting up against military rules that favor men and a father who doesn't want his princess to be put into potential injurious moments... and we have no idea what is going on. 20 movies in, it's kind of exhilarating to be lost in plot and self-identity for a brief period of time. It also packs in a lot of the movie's thesis without completely spelling it out: that getting back up is the most important thing to do and that women get knocked down more by an uneven playing field.

Overall, I think Captain Marvel is fun and if I weren't such a finish-the-movie purist it's obvious that I need to leave every MCU film when it feels like the third act is coming on because it always undoes all the casual goodwill I have building for these films and characters and it loses any unique personality and directorial ownership and becomes a simple third act trademark.


Asides: In the Blockbuster scene she crash lands in what must be the Sci-Fi/Fantasty section but as an alphabetical purist I'm VERY annoyed that Hook comes before First Knight in this scene (Last Action Hero is also there). This section must be opposite the end of drama aisle as the one she picks up is The Right Stuff and I would be pleased as punch if more kiddos gave that epic a look. Also, I'm pretty sure that Courtney Love, who controls Nirvana's musical library, was like sure y'all can use a Nirvana track... if Hole gets the whole end credits. And no, Nine Inch Nails never plays despite starfucking the shit out of that logo on the t-shirt in what feels like an eternity of first looks. Music wise, there is a corporate 90s reaction to the Riot Grrrl movement all over this, with No Doubt subbing for Bikini Kill. And ultimately, that's the same big brand of feminism.

I am a cat lover, don't get me wrong, but I do think there's too much use of Goose to soften a not-so-furious Nick Fury. And speaking of Fury, while I love him singing the Marvellettes and MacGuyver-ing his way out of a jam with a piece of Scotch tape, his eyepatch origin is incredibly lame. Also in the 90s we didn’t groan about load times, that’s just how it is; some of these 90s jokes are done too hard with now awareness. I did like Radio Shack bring the communication gathering and the Security Guatd conceding that he has a small jurisdiction. Oh and the dresses for laser tag line. Most of them work! But yeah, we accepted poor search results and load times cuz that’s all we knew kids.

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