Marvel Marathon #20: Captain Marvel

(During quarantine my girlfriend and I are going through the Marvel movies chronologically. Surprisingly, she is really enjoying them, maybe even more than me. We are already a couple down and I’m gunna do write-ups for all of ‘em, the good and the bad.)

There was a lot of controversy surrounding the casting of Captain Marvel, or rather there wasn’t controversy until Brie Larsen started pissing off fanboys and critics alike. There are arguments to be made that her comments were the catalyst of the negative reviews just as there are arguments to be made that it was her performance. Regardless of what has been said by both sides, her acting was… fine. I think there was nothing wrong with the casting, though she does tend to come off really smug throughout the movie.

When it comes to the other performances, Mendelssohn totally deserves a shout out as the lead Skrull; menacing as always. And it’s good to see Samuel L. Jackson back with a main role in a Marvel movie. However, when it comes to Jackson’s de-aged look, which is for the whole duration of the movie, it doesn’t look great and is just something you have to get used to. Jackson’s face looks rubbery as hell and Coulson doesn’t look great either. The biggest problem is that Jackson and Clark Greg didn’t even look like their characters when they were actually acting through the 90s, so these uncanny valley models are so alien. And with all that said Jackson still has to run. The poor guy is limping and he’s supposed to be a thirty years old.

I think that’s what the most recent Marvel movies do so well, they are clearly made by people who have a love for filmmaking and pull from genius movies. The great thing about the recent Marvel movies is that the are clearly made by people who are invested in the source material and are also well versed in film history, “borrowing” from genius movies. The scene in which the skrulls are messing about inside Marvel’s mind, trying to retrieve her memories, is so well crafted. The sound design, with the skrulls speaking over the memories, is the way people who have had surgery claim they can hear the doctors, with the echoey voice. And the dream-like visual effects and playing with time was reminiscent of the masterful Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The whole thing was expertly done.

Being more of a mystery movie of sorts, the film is entangled in so many great tricks and misdirections. However, though they’ll never do this because it’s Disney, a film featuring the shape shifting villains, the Skrulls, would make a great horror movie. There are limitless possibilities with these guys and I don’t think it was fully taken advantage of in Captain Marvel. When the Supreme Intelligence was climbing in to the ship and her riginal form was momentarily revealed when she was waving was low-key frightening as hell.

Captain Marvel might feature my very favourite Stan Lee cameo of all the Marvel movies. Sure, it isn’t him as a hippie or as a DJ, this one is nicely subtle and understated. It’s the 90s, and what was Stan Lee doing in the 90s? He was talking about Superman’s penis in the Kevin Smith movie Mallrats, and so in Captain Marvel the comic book guru is sitting on a train reading the Mallrats script as Marvel suspects him to be a Skrull. He’s even having trouble with his lines. Brilliant. Also, in the same scene, Cap. Marv beats the living shit out of an old age pensioner. This movie’s brilliant! Why do people criticise it?

The final few minutes when Larson had fully transformed in to Captain Marvel – mohawk, glowing body, light bema eyes, everything – was a spectacle. The moment she is smashing through spaceships and it cuts to Ronin on the verge of shitting himself is the most crowd pleasing moment ever. But at the end of the day, why does Captain Marvel even exist? She is completely invincible and can destroy ships simply by flying through them (though it does look badass.) Not knowing the source material, it makes me wonder where it could possibly go in the sequel.

Besides all the corny dialogue (the whole “marvel” back and forth between Jackson and Larson, eugh, please enough) an all too predictable villain, the weird suit customisation, and a horribly mimicked Indiana Jones finale, I enjoyed this entry much more than I think most people did. I believe Larsen did a fine job, and the whole mystery of her character’s background was fascinating.

Also, I miss the 90’s, man. R.I.P. Blockbuster. Though there’s nothing worse than producers milking the novelty of a period, they totally should have laid the 90s aesthetic on thicker.

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