A Marvel-ous Kree-ation!

I ended up seeing Captain Marvel on International Women’s Day and that was an excellent decision.  In fact, whoever decided to launch the film around this day deserves some credit.  Not only is it exciting that we are FINALLY getting good superhero movies with female leads, but there are some strong feminist messages in this film.

(Heads up, there are some spoilers near the end of this review)

Captain_Marvel_poster

Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is a fantastic female lead/superhero:

  • She is not simply there to be someone’s love interest: there is no romantic sub plot in this movie and that is a welcome change compared to some other hero origin stories.  In fact, rather that have Danvers looking for love, it is the importance of female friendship that is emphasized.  Her relationship with best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) is probably one of the most meaningful relationships in the film.  It is heartfelt and genuine.
  • She is not a sex object: when a man tries to objectify Danvers by cat-calling her, she does what any woman would want to – she gets revenge.  After ignoring his inappropriate advances she steals his bike in a moment that made every member of the audience both laugh and cheer.  In fact, the film rejects the idea of woman-as-sex-object through the use of a mannequin.  The only naked female body we see is that of the mannequin; it is not a real woman but a fake, plastic, sexualized image of a woman.  If a real woman is in a film simply to exist as a sexual object for the male gaze, she might as well just be a mannequin.
  • She was always a hero and didn’t need unearthly super powers to become one: before gaining her powers or training to become a Kree warrior, Danvers was (and still is) a total bad-ass.  She was an experienced pilot, holding her own in a male dominated field; she was willing to do whatever it took to help if someone’s life was at stake; she always got back up when she fell down; and she was a positive role model to a young girl.  All of these aspects of her personality are simply amplified once she becomes Captain Marvel.
  • She is emotional: women tend to be branded as emotional beings and that is typically seen as a negative attribute.  Throughout a good portion of the film, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) suggests that Danvers will have better control of her powers if she does not let her emotions get in the way.  Even the very existence of the Supreme Intelligence (Annette Bening) suggests the fact that the Kree value intellect over emotion since the Kree warriors are goverened by this artificial intelligence. In fact, it is when Danvers embraces her emotions and emotional response to situations that she is able to better control her powers and defeat her enemies.

Apart from being an awesome film to celebrate International Women’s Day with, this was also an exceptionally good addition to the MCU.  There was a diverse crew of main characters featuring women, people of colour, and (my favourite) aliens; a welcome change from the typical white male hero.  The use of 90s music was well thought out and continues the trend of MCU films with unique soundtracks.  My only criticism in terms of the music is the timing in one of the fight scenes.  When “Just a Girl” by No Doubt begins to play, someone is thrown into a jukebox moments later.  I feel it would have been more effective if the music had started up the moment the body crashed into the jukebox. And finally, Captain Marvel was funny without going over the top.  It was more Guardians of the Galaxy level humour, rather that going all the way to the Thor: Ragnarok level of ridiculousness and absurdity.

I also found it interesting that there was a link between memory and montage. Since Danvers has little to no memories about her previous life it makes sense that any remaining memories would be fragmented.  So I really appreciated the fact that whenever Danvers was remembering something, whether intentionally or by force, it was most often presented as a kind of montage or as a collage of moments.

(Spoilers in this next paragraph):

I was really pleased with the costumes in this film.  The only bad CG face appeared when Danvers was flying through space and the area around her mouth was noticeably bad.  Thankfully, the Skrulls were beautifully done with makeup and prosthetics and a bit of well executed CG whenever they changed.  But I also really loved the colours of Captain Marvel’s and the Kree’s suits. In fact, the suit colours were an excellent way to figure out who the real enemy was in the film. Comic book heroes tend to wear a lot of primary colours, so when we see Captain Marvel decked out in red, blue and gold we know she is the one who will save the day. By contrast, villains are more likely to wear secondary colours. (For interesting comic tidbits like this, I recommend Tim Leong’s Super Graphic. There are some pretty nifty charts showing the use of colour in comic book character outfits.) So it’s no surprise that the Kree warriors, with their green and silver outfits that are essentially the opposite of what Danvers is wearing, turn out to be the villains.  As if it that fact wasn’t already made fairly clear through Yon-Rogg’s attempts to control Danvers, as well as his alliance with Ronan.

I am so excited to see Captain Marvel return in the next Avengers film. As of this moment, she is what I am most looking forward to in that movie.

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