Thursday, April 4, 2019

Marvel Watch: Captain Marvel (2019)

Watched:  03/25/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010's

(editor's note:  I wrote most of this post and then forgot to post it, so consider this my thoughts from a week ago or so)

Normally I wouldn't do a write-up of a movie about which I've already done a podcast, but I also know a whole bunch of you read posts and don't listen to the Marvel podcasts.  So... hey...  here we go.

Look, I'm not going to come out and say Captain Marvel (2019) is or was the *best* Marvel movie.  We are living immediately in the wake of when Black Panther just showed up at the Academy Awards for Best Picture nominee, and which may have skewed our expectations a tad.  Pretty far cry from being delighted Marvel didn't poop the bed with Iron Man.

What I will say is - I've seen a whole lot of dudes, good dudes, shrugging off Captain Marvel as muddled, not that great. And, my dudes, you don't have to like Captain Marvel, but I am going to suggest that from comments some have made in my general direction - maybe you misread the movie.

I think it helps to recognize that - while this movie does a bit of on-the-nose "girl power" stuff, mostly the movie integrates the topics it wants to tackle in such a way that it's the studs and beams of the structure, not the accent furniture shoved into a tract house of your post-Commando action movie.  Like when you see a Hello, Kitty assault rifle - sure, you can try to change it up for a new market, but it's still the same old thing with a change of hue. Captain Marvel has enough re-architecting that the structure may seem off if you went in expecting a grocery store and walked in to find a book store.

What I'm asking, my dudes, is that if you saw the movie as nothing but a series of cliches that somehow didn't click, and came to the conclusion, "that's not how it's supposed to work in the movie" or "that's not how I would have done it" - you may need to limber up a bit to embrace the story that was being told and consider a POV that's not your usual Tony Stark-high-fiving view of how these movies work.  Give it a go to try not to just see but to value the gigantic allegory that was Captain Marvel.

If the reactions I've seen to how this movie works and what Captain Marvel finds out along the way is any indication, guys, we are very bad at processing the challenges women deal with and what a moral victory looks like in that context (and, maybe, appreciating the value of that moral victory).  As the movie was very much written as one long metaphor for overcoming the bad behaviors of men - not just abusive men, but what *all* of us say to women - it may not feel much like Tony Stark fighting his evil opposite or Captain America fighting his evil opposite or... you get the idea.

I mean, the narrative reaches it's climax when a woman stops listening to all the patient, calm voices and trusts herself, finding out she's unstoppable/ a hero to others.

This isn't political or virtue signaling.  Recognizing a perspective other than our own and understanding that different people face different challenges is something humans sharing a single rock can try.

As Marvel movies do what we *say* we want them to do and diversify leads and approach new audiences, things are going to not necessarily look as much like they did and the concerns those characters carry may look quite a bit different from our founding movies.  Carol Danvers' journey was one of recognizing the power within when individuals and institutions kept telling her she was too emotional, that she owed everything to them...  that's the key to the whole thing.

Doesn't mean you'll love the movie - it may not click with you - but if you're saying the movie missed opportunities of didn't work as a story... I dunno, man.

Anyway, we podcasted on this one, so give it a listen.  I'm fully onboard with Marvel deploying this kind of allegory, and on a second viewing, I was even more impressed with what they did.


mcsteans said...

I can't tell you how much I appreciate this post. Maybe your dudes will have an easier time accepting that they missed something when it's coming from one of their own and not from one who might be 'biased'. And yeah, they don't have to love it, but maybe acknowledge that a different point of view doesn't make it a crappy movie.

J.S. said...

Politics aside, I just didn't think this movie was that fun. And, coincidentally, I just watched Wonder Woman for the third time last night, and it's great (although, weirdly, I like all of Wonder Woman except the battle with Ares at the end, and I thought most of Captain Marvel was meh, except it had a cool ending). I just didn't think that the quality of the writing was that great in Captain Marvel. But maybe it's because I don't find cats inherently funny?

The League said...

I don't really see this as "politics" (see above), but I do see it as what POVs we value. I *too* like Wonder Woman *a lot*. Like, a whole ton, and I like it better than I like Captain Marvel in many ways - not least because it's a stand-alone story and the "hero decision" moment was one of the best I've seen in any kind of movie.

Fortunately, Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman are telling two separate and unique stories. Wonder Woman is supposing "what if a woman appeared who had earned confidence and just flat out knew what she could do" and Captain Marvel is saying "what if someone threw off the ten thousand voices telling them they couldn't". In a lot of ways, Wonder Woman was telling a more direct and familiar story that fit the established fish-out-of-water pattern with which we have more touchstones.

But, yeah, your mileage is going to vary on cats.