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Last Piece of the Puzzle

Captain Marvel Review

The year 2018 was a big year for superhero movies, and Marvel reaped the most benefits. Black Panther gave us a cultural icon, Into the Spider-Verse gave us the best Spider-Man film yet, but the movie with the biggest impact was the one Marvel had spent years building towards, Avengers: Infinity War.

Needless to say, Infinity War was a huge hit, with the ending leaving fans in shock. Even if you haven’t seen it, you’ll probably have seen this meme that was inspired by the ending:

So, yeah, it didn’t end well for the heroes. But the post-credits scene offered us hope as Nick Fury sent a message to someone with this symbol on them:

Sadly, we’d have to wait another year to see the sequel, Avengers: Endgame, and there were two more MCU movies out between then. While Ant-Man and the Wasp was fun, its overall purpose was to put Scott Lang in position for his role in Endgame. All that’s left is the Marvel Universe’s trump card, and the person who I think will have a huge role in defeating Thanos, Captain Marvel.

Ironically, despite being one of the strongest superheroes in the Marvel universe, and even sharing the company’s name, those who wear the title of Captain Marvel aren’t as famous as heroes like the Avengers. Nor have they had an easy life. The original was a Kree warrior who became one of the universe’s greatest heroes, but whose career was cut short when he died of cancer.

The next one, the son of the original, went temporarily insane and destroyed, then remade, the entire universe.

As for Carol Danvers, just click here and you’ll see. Given the history behind the character, you can bet I was excited for Captain Marvel. And, even though this is coming later than most, I just wanted to give my review for the origin film for the Avengers trump card, Captain Marvel.

The Plot

I’ll just go over the bare bones of the plot for this. Taking place thirteen years before Iron Man, the film stars Carol Danvers, an amnesiac soldier with the ability to fire energy blasts from her body. Part of an elite squad in the Kree Empire, Starforce, she fights their shape shifting enemies, the Skrulls. But when a mission goes wrong, she gets separated from her comrades and stranded on Earth with the Skrulls in pursuit. Teaming up with a younger Nick Fury to get home, Carol instead discovers her past on Earth as well as secrets that change everything she thought she knew.

The film’s plot seems like a mixture of past Marvel films. It has the sci-fi, retro pop culture elements of Guardians of the Galaxy (some of the Kree from GOTG appear in younger forms) and the spy-thriller elements found in Captain America: Winter Soldier. If you have seen the source material and the other films, you can expect what will happen in Captain Marvel. While this makes the plot a little bit predictable, it doesn’t make it any less fun. When it comes down, isn’t that all that matters?

Our Two Heroes

I will be upfront about my opinion on Carol Danvers: I like her. She’s strong, confident, and she doesn’t take crap from anyone. As shown in flashbacks, she has had to spend her entire life having people look down on her because she’s a girl, or just make passes at her. So how does she respond? By being as sassy as hell, and it is awesome to watch.

Some of my favorite moments with Carol have to do with her dealing with guys who tried hitting on her. In a flashback, some loser tries to show her the meaning of the word “cockpit”, and she beat the guys face in. When a biker tried to hit on her, she stole his bike.

I see why some people would complain about Carol being portrayed with a feminist agenda in mind. She doesn’t always act strong and tough, though. The movie reveals that, deep down, she’s troubled by her insecurities about her past, or the lack of one. It reminds us all that, for all her power, she’s still human and has to deal with those problems.I liked Carol Danvers, and that’s enough for me.

Nick Fury

Of course, this film wasn’t just about Carol Danvers. It was as much an origin story for another character, one that we’ve already known for years: Nick Fury.

The Fury that we see in this film hasn’t turned into the cynical, tough-as-nails spy. He thinks that the most important days in his career are behind him with the Cold War ending, but the events of this film open his eyes.

His adventures with Carol teach Nick that there are threats in the cosmos that he couldn’t begin to comprehend; threats that ordinary people won’t be able to stop. It also taught him how much a single, extraordinary person can do in the face of impossible odds. When you look back on the MCU with Captain Marvel in mind, Fury’s actions show how much of an impact Carol had on him. The end of the film even shows that she’s what inspires the concept of the Avengers.

At the same time, the film also makes a notable effort to humanize Nick Fury, much to the audience’s amusement. The trailer showed us that Fury’s a cat person, but did you know he loves the 60s singing group the Marvelettes, and can sing a good rendition of their hit “Please Mr. Postman”. Or how he got his eye-patch. Rumor has it that he lost his eye when the Kree destroyed it for refusing to talk. The truth is actually funnier.

The point being, this film did a great job at giving fans the origins to one of the most important characters in the MCU.

References and Easter Eggs

Being that this film was set in the 1990s, you can bet that there were millennials who were on the hunt for references to 90s culture alongside the normal Marvel Easter Eggs. Here are a few of the 90s pop culture reference I liked the most:

  • Blockbuster- I remember seeing the trailer for Iron Man at my local Blockbuster 11 years ago, and now it doesn’t exist except for one store somewhere in the US.
  • Internet Cafes- I don’t remember these, but they look like ancient. We still have them today, but I think now they’re called Starbucks
  • Slow Computers- Thank god our computers are a thousand times faster than they were in 1995.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Never saw the show during its run, but I know it was one of Will Smith’s defining roles. Loved how casually Monica Rambeau mentioned the show.

The thing I remember the most about the 90s, though, was sadly not referenced in the film: 90s Nicktoons. Growing up, Nickelodeon was where I watched my daily fix of cartoons. Granted, some of the ones I really liked didn’t come out until after 1995, but they at least could have included a Rugrats cameo.

Stan Lee Cameo

But the biggest easter egg was always going to be the one that would bring tears to our eyes: Stan Lee’s posthumous cameo. It’s still hard for fans to accept that Stan’s really gone, and unless Marvel decides to just include images of him in future films, 2019 will probably mark the last of his cameos. Aside from the opening paying tribute to the film, Captain Marvel had one of Stan Lee’s best cameos. And it got very meta.

1995 saw the release of Kevin Smith’s film, Mallrats. At the time, it didn’t perform well in the box office, and critics bashed it pretty hard. Since coming out on home video, it has become a cult classic. One of the more memorable moments is when Stan Lee appears as himself to offer romantic advice to one of the main characters. In a nod to this, Stan’s cameo in the film has him practicing his lines for Mallrats while riding the subway. It’s a moment that equally nostalgic and makes fans want to chuckle at the joke.

My Verdict

I don’t care what the haters have to say, I don’t care what the other critics have to say about this. I liked Captain Marvel, and I thought that it was a well-written way to lay some extra groundwork for the MCU. It basically answers the question few may have thought to ask: what inspired Fury to create the Avengers? Now that we know, the MCU is better as a whole. It may not have lived up to the stakes that were set by Infnity War, but to be fair, nothing Marvel does between then and Endgame would live up to it. This movie is like the last piece to the eleven-year long saga that Marvel has been building up to. This film is the calm before the final storm that will rip through the MCU in one month, and I am grateful for that.

Some people may complain that Captain Marvel isn’t good enough to stand on its own as a film, but the MCU has proven that it doesn’t have to. It’s part of a larger universe, and it fits into it very well.

I Give Captain Marvel a 4/5

Click here to see my reviews for various films.

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