Captain Marvel

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Captain Marvel

Kayla Mason, Staff Writer

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The superhero genre has been revolutionized within the past decade. Films that were once mocked and looked down upon by most have become among the highest grossing and the highest rated films to grace the big screen. Starting with Iron Man in 2008, Marvel has been a pioneer, paving the road for superheroes of all mediums and making quality movies that honor their comic book source material, while still bringing in the masses to enjoy their films. Since then, the market for superheroes has only grown. Heroes like Iron Man in his debut film, as well as other heroes in the Marvel universe like Captain America and Thor, have become ingrained enough in American society that most people can recognize and name them on sight, especially following the release of attention monster Avengers: Infinity War.  The 4thhighest grossing film of all time, Infinity War was the culmination of years of Marvel’s crowd-pleasing superhero content. It gathered dozens of heroes together, highlighting their different characters, tones, and the many different personalities of the Marvel company’s franchises. However, with a few welcomed exceptions, the palate and diversity of superheroes remains largely unchanged. Omitting DC’s breakout hit Wonder Woman and Marvel’s cultural phenomenon Black Panther, which star a woman and an entirely black cast respectively, the superhero industry is dominated by white males. This primarily stems from the comics that superhero movies are framed off of, but as the climate of the world changes to a more accepting and progressive era, the public, especially through social media, has pushed for more diverse leads in movies.

Enter Captain Marvel. After nearly a decade of filmmaking without a single female lead, Marvel finally took the plunge and introduced Carol Danvers, alias Captain Marvel. The film came out on National Women’s Day, and it is the 21staddition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It details the cosmic story of the superpowered Carol Danvers, played by Oscar winner Brie Larson, crashing on earth to defeat the alien race of the Skrulls, all while learning about the secrets of her past. Captain Marvel features familiar faces from past Marvel films like fan favorites Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson and Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg. The film also introduces a variety of characters to fight alongside and against Carol, highlighted by immediate fan-darling Goose, a cat with a hilarious secret of its own. The film was a breath of fresh air for all audience members eager to see another female superhero lead a movie.

However, before jumping into the film, it is important to recognize the incredibly beautiful and emotional tribute to Stan Lee that preceded the movie. Marvel movies typically begin with a montage of all of Marvel’s superheroes. However, Stan Lee, the creator of several Marvel characters including Spiderman and the Fantastic Four, passed away earlier this year. As a sign of love and respect, Marvel took their normal opening montage and replaced the faces of the superheroes with pictures of Stan Lee, accurately depicting how Lee was a superhero in the real world, bringing hope and joy to people across the world. The gesture was met with applause and tears from viewers in theaters across the nation. It was a moving tribute to the man that led Marvel to the success it has today.

Following the tribute, the main attraction,Captain Marvel, took over the screen. Admittedly, the film gets off to a mediocre start. The opening scenes were hard to follow, as the editing was a bit scattered and blurred. The film begins on another planet, and it establishes the relations between the various alien races in the film, including the Kree, Carol’s presumed race, and the Skrulls, the shapeshifting enemies of the Kree. This sluggish start is carried by Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, who has enough spunk and charisma to propel the film forward. Following a slow first 20 minutes, the film picks up the minute that the Carol crashes through the roof of a Blockbuster, embracing the bouncy 90’s vibe of the film. Carol, after landing on Earth, meets a young Nick Fury, likably portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, who brings excellent comedy to the film. His mysterious persona from earlier Marvel films makes his more naïve and lighthearted younger self a hilarious sight. Carol’s time on Earth also leads to a slew of fight scenes which are unique in their use of the Skrulls which Carol fights. The Skrulls can shapeshift into any human, making for a suspenseful and thoroughly entertaining fight. Carol’s story is a fairly typical origin for a superhero, but it has enough twists to make it an interesting addition to the Marvel Universe. The side characters, notably Fury and his scene-stealing cat companion, Goose, along with the 90’s settings, help to separate and elevate Captain Marvel from its predecessors. However, the film rests on the shoulders of Brie Larson’s immensely entertaining performance as Carol Danvers. She plays the humorous, sarcastic, and quippy side of Carol flawlessly, and her on-screen chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson was an absolute delight. However, the best part of Carol was that the character was not written as someone with something to prove just because of her gender. In fact, Carol’s gender is completely irrelevant to the film. Ironically, this makes the film so much more empowering. Carol is powerful, but she is not confined to the role of a serious, no-nonsense fighter like so many females are confined to in action films. This was incredibly refreshing, and the movie did not distract from the plot by detailing Carol’s struggles as a woman, but rather focusing on her problems with her human nature and identity. WhileCaptain Marvel is not the strongest entry to the Marvel Universe, it is another entertaining film that pushes the superhero genre forward in its diversity. As Avengers: Endgame draws closer and closer, it will be a delight to see Carol return and interact with other Avengers.

Critically, Captain Marvel has generally been reviewed favorably, with several critics citing solid performances and excellent comedy as reasons for the film’s high entertainment value. It currently sports a satisfactory 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, but the positive word of mouth it has been receiving has led to it being a huge commercial success. The film has already broken the $1 billion plane, making it the seventh Marvel film to do so. On all accounts, the film has been a massive success, and Captain Marvel’s success coupled with 2018’s Black Panther shines a bright light for a future of a more diverse palate of superheroes.

Captain Marvel is a film brimming with comedy and action. It is carried by excellent performances by its main cast and by a classic story that shows the origin of yet another fascinating Marvel superhero. However, its impact extends far beyond a stunning box office performance or any critical review. Little girls and women across the nation finally got to see Marvel tackle a movie revolving around a female superhero, and it did not disappoint. Carol Danvers is inspiring, brave, and powerful, traits typically reserved for men in the superhero genre. Her success will hopefully build upon that of Black Panther and ripple across the filmmaking industry and show that representation is not something to fear. Captain Marvel will return this month in the highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame,so make sure to catch her next appearance on April 26.

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