The new Captain Marvel movie, starring Brie Larson, was a rousing worldwide success when it opened this past weekend. Normally, I do not follow box office results – I don’t see lots of movies at the theatre and usually not even close to opening weekend. However, Sean and I made a point of seeing Captain Marvel on Monday (almost still opening weekend) partly because it was his birthday weekend and he has been a Marvel fan since before it was cool – and partly to stick it to the trolls.
Don’t worry, this review is not going to go into depth about how the most misogynist Marvel “fans” were so determined to express their disapproval of Brie Larson (who not only played the most powerful Marvel superhero while simultaneously being female but also dared to call attention to the white-male-dominated field of film criticism – and Hollywood in general – and its too-little effort at diversity) by submitting malignant one-star reviews to everywhere before the film was even released, thus revealing their own pathetic inability to cope with life and inciting both RottenTomatoes and YouTube to tweak their algorithms to counteract the bias.
Nope, I’m going to talk about the film itself. No major plot spoilers, maybe just good-moment spoilers.
- As is the standard these days with Marvel movies, the writing is good, it made us laugh – and it also made me teary-eyed at one point. Thumbs up.
male supremacistscritics said that Brie Larson’s performance is wooden or overly stoic in this movie. I disagree. It’s important to keep in mind that her character, Carol Danvers, has a) been training to master her emotions and b) had her memory damaged. But also, “wooden” didn’t even occur to me as I watched. I enjoyed what I perceived as a calm, smart, somewhat taciturn character – maybe even a bit shy – who is thinking hard, figuring stuff out as she goes. To me, she’s relatable. (Me being the Paragon of Calm and all, ha.)
- Similarly, she owned her resting bitch face. (Which, to clarify, is more of a fierce “taking care of business” face.) And for the asinine legions who want her – and women in general – to smile more, the movie satisfyingly addresses that. And so do the creative netizens who photoshopped smiles onto male superheroes to demonstrate that it makes no sense.
- It’s cool to see her running barefoot for a while at one point early in the movie. I wonder whose idea that was. And then, when she puts her boots on, hallelujah, there are no noticeable heels on those suckers. That’s one of my pet peeves – when women on TV who have serious shit to get done are doing it in spike heels. Ugh. High heels literally throw humans out of alignment and off balance – thus, they fall into my category of “apparel designed to keep women down.”
- It must also be mentioned that the uniform Brie Larson wears as a Kree soldier is the same as the one Jude Law wears – and the rest of the soldiers. Tailored to her, of course, but fully protective (not seductive).
- The fight-training scene at the beginning between Brie Larson and Jude Law is visually great. It’s not all close up and chaotic and shaky-cam, like so many fight scenes – it’s atmospheric and convincing and full of cool shapes. And it’s gratifying to find out that Brie Larson did most of her own stunts in the movie – wow. She did some serious superhero training for the role.
- I dug the Earth-based soundtrack of 90s jams – mostly by women. Nice touch. Also, Carol’s band T-shirts, especially the last one. 🙂
- It is so cool, and also a bit creepy, that they’re able to take Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg, acting in the present day, and make them appear 25 years younger. How??? Apparently the company that specializes in this digital time travel is Lola FX. I don’t know how they do it, I just know it’s amazing. The effects are so seamless, you completely forget that these actors aren’t so dewy anymore.
- I loved Lashana Lynch as Carol’s best friend, Maria Rambeau. Tough, savvy, and full of love at the same time. And she nailed the American accent – I had no clue that she’s British.
- In fact, I loved the dynamic between the two women. Reading about the film afterwards, it was interesting to see comments on how Carol has no love interest in the movie. At first I was like, “Why should she have a love interest? Because she’s a woman??” But then I realized – most male superheroes do, especially in their origin stories. Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor (can’t remember about the Hulk), Star Lord, T’Challa… not to mention (switching universes) Superman and Batman…. They all have a romance as a motivator at some point. I did not even notice that Carol has no romance – probably because the friendship is so beautifully done. And frankly, the movie is full of love – friendships, family, pets, you name it.
- Little things I appreciated: Goose the cat doing all those kitty things; Samuel L. Jackson singing “Please Mr. Postman” (quite well!); Brie Larson’s messy hair; Annette Bening in general.
- Overarching messages I appreciated even more: emotions and interpersonal connections as assets; single moms as superheroes; the importance of knowing and treating ALL people as people; the goal not to win wars, but to end wars; and the essential nature of perseverance in this human life – especially the female human life. (That last part is what made me teary-eyed.)
- And finally – this one deserves its own bullet – “I don’t have to prove anything to you.” YES YES YES. This moment is so satisfying, Sean and I both did the quiet cheer in our seats. This moment is Shut up, manipulating coward-boys, it’s not about you. I have more important things to do in life. BOOM.
- Were there things I didn’t like? Well, I don’t know. It’s violent, as most comic-hero-based movies are built to be. It’s not my favourite movie in the world – a superhero movie will probably never be that for me. But kudos to the team that made this film happen, because it’s a big step into territory that needs thorough plumbing. Maybe once the female superheroes are as ubiquitous as the male ones, we will see the ignorant boycotter types shuffle off the way of the dodo, where they belong.
P.S. Did you know Brie Larson was a Six Chick in 13 Going On 30? (She’s the one in blue.) Just a point in her favour, in my opinion. She got to practice that RBF early.
P. P. S. I enjoyed this article about the movie (though it’s slightly more spoiler-y) from an intriguing website I’d never seen called The Good Men Project. Digital fist bump to you, male feminists! <3