There is a ton of talk about this movie online. Honestly, it is to the point that I’m wondering about that old saying “whether it is bad or good… as long as they are talking about you” still applies. After one weekend, this has underperformed at the box office, and while many people have listed their own theories about why this has occurred (smarter and dumber people alike), it seems to me we’ve gotten away from the key part of watching a movie.
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OK. The first Captain Marvel really occupies an odd place in the MCU as it came out after Infinity War but before End Game but took place in the 90s, which put in a position where it didn’t really fit into the current storyline and acts as a prequel to much of the MCU (other than say the first Captain America movie). It introduces more of the Kree (since Ronan in Guardians was really the only Kree we’d met otherwise) and sets up something that within the comics is a HUGE deal: the Kree/Skrull conflicts.
I enjoyed the first one, but I must admit, I haven’t gone back to do a rewatch so it might have been seen through rose-colored glasses as we all waited for End Game.
With Marvels, my concern was how well would people who haven’t watched the tv shows understand who these characters are. We’d watched WandaVision, so Monica’s story was familiar to us, but we haven’t had a chance to watch Ms. Marvel. And while I am familiar with the comic version, I haven’t really read much with her in it. Luckily, I think they did a pretty good job of introducing both, even if Monica has a leg up due to Captain Marvel being Aunt Carol.
The sequence which gets the movie started is them switching places whenever one of them uses their powers at the same time as another of the trio. Which creates a breakneck series of fights which does a nice job of illustrating each of their power sets. When the three are finally all together, the embarassingly cute interaction Ms. Marvel has with the other two women is infectious. It also does a nice bit of contrast to one of the things people complained about with the first one – that Captain Marvel was too stoic. In fact, that is kind of her character arc here. Someone who has seperated herself from the rest of the universe, someone doing a job only they can do, and just being utterly alone. Faced with a “team”, she balks at it because it is so against her nature. Yet as things continue, she has no choice but to literally and figuratively embrace these two souls. It was this underlying thread that still made it HER movie in so many ways.
On top of everything else, though, this movie feels like something where everyone is having fun. The actors look like they are into it. The writer clearly understood this was supposed to be more about the three heroes and their developing relationships between one another rather than the larger plot. Which may be the one bit of “bad” about the movie for me.
I don’t know if they completely knew what kind of villain they were portraying here? Is Dar-Benn your classic cosmic world destroyer in the vein of Ronan? Is she someone who is only trying to do her best to restore her homeworld back to from the brink of annihilation? Or is she someone who is bent of revenge against a sworn enemy?
Now, that sounds like the beginning of real depth for Dar-Benn, but it is here that things seem to get confused. She is all these things, but we only find out about the revenge against Captain Marvel near the end of the movie which makes it seems like it was her ultimate motivation. However, this came across as more of a “oh, ok” moment rather than a “WOW” moment. I wish they would have put something more into that, even an exchange between her first officer saying something about getting revenge is how she’s picking her targets.
The cosmic side of Marvel has so much to explore and these characters could allow them to do just that. And could even seed some additional ideas for a Fantastic Four movie (Annihilus is out there).
The comic book nerd would hate for the lower box office to hurt these explorations in the future. There is a ton to enjoy about this movie, and if the first one didn’t quite hit right, this one has a feel very different to that one – it may be more in your wheelhouse.
John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.
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