Tag Archives: Samuel L. Jackson

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” Review: An Amazing Movie With One Spectacular Flaw

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In this golden age of superhero movies, Spider-Man occupies a special place. Aside from being one of Stan Lee’s most famous creations, this franchise has undergone many triumphs, failures, scandals, upheavals, and everything in between. No matter where it stands among other franchises, Marvel just isn’t Marvel without Spider-Man.

The first “Spider-Man” movie helped revolutionize the superhero genre alongside “X-Men.” It’s not unreasonable to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t exist without that first movie. That’s why when Spider-Man entered the MCU with “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” it carried a lot of weight.

With “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” both the standards and the stakes are higher. This movie is coming off the historic success of “Avengers Endgame” and is poised to close out Phase 3 of the MCU. It’s tasked with building on the foundation of its predecessor and dealing with the dramatic aftermath of the battle against Thanos. That’s a tall order for any franchise.

Look at this face and tell me I’m wrong. I dare you.

At the same time, it feels like Spider-Man has to be the franchise to pull this off. Between its special place in the genre and its cast of emerging stars, including the inherently lovable Tom Holland, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” feels like the only movie worthy of such a task. It has everything going for it. The question remains. Does it succeed?

In my humble opinion, I say it does, but not without some major flaws.

In terms of the big picture, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is a quality Spider-Man movie that checks a lot of boxes, both for the franchise and for the MCU. It seamlessly weaves itself into the evolving narrative of the MCU in wake of “Avengers Endgame.” The first five minutes of the movie touch on the lingering aftermath of that climactic battle. It even injects some of that trademark MCU humor into some heavy moments.

On a more personal level, Peter Parker’s story builds upon the drama of Tony Stark’s death in “Avengers Endgame.” Throughout the movie, Iron Man’s presence looms large. Spider-Man is essentially stuck in the shadow of another hero who really affected his journey as a character in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” It makes for plenty of dramatic moments that guide Peter throughout the story.

In terms of it genre, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” even succeeds in maintaining the increasingly high bar that Marvel Studios has set for its villains. While Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio won’t rank as highly as Josh Brolin’s Thanos, he proves himself a daunting foe who doesn’t just test Spider-Man. He comes very close to breaking him.

I would even go so far as to say that Gyllenhaal’s take on Mysterio is worth the inflated ticket price. He makes “Spider-Man: Far From Home” work on multiple levels. I would argue that he’s the primary reason why the movie succeeds, despite its critical flaws.

Now, this is where I’m probably going to diverge from the those who have given this movie such glowing reviews. I may even upset some of my fellow Marvel fans who recoil at the idea of an MCU movie faltering. However, I believe the flaws are there and are being overshadowed by factors beyond the scope of the movie.

To me, the biggest failure of this movie isn’t in how it tells Spider-Man’s story. It’s in how it develops Peter Parker’s story. The battle between Spider-Man and Mysterio is beautifully developed. It’s what happens when Peter is out of his mask where the story stagnates and it has everything to do with Zendaya’s character, “MJ.”

I put “MJ” in quotes because she is definitively not Mary Jane Watson, Spider-Man’s most famous love interest in the comics and the character that Kirsten Dunst portrayed in the first three Spider-Man movies. That’s not the issue, though. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” established her and Peter’s friends as something very different from the comics. It wouldn’t be the first time the MCU made such changes.

The problem with MJ, Peter, and their shared role in “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is how poorly their romantic sub-plot plays out. It’s not a trivial sub-plot, either. A good chunk of the plot involves Peter following this elaborate plan to tell MJ how he feels about her. On paper, it’s pretty romantic. In practice, it’s a catalyst for too many cringe-worthy moments.

There’s no polite way to say it. The romance between Peter and MJ in this movie is awful. I won’t say it’s as awful as the nonsensical babble we saw between Peter and Gwen in “Amazing Spider-Man,” but it’s pretty close and for the high standards of the MCU, it’s just unacceptable.

While “Spider-Man: Homecoming” did an admirable job of establishing the dynamics between Peter and MJ, it falls incredibly flat in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” In fact, if you didn’t see “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” Peter’s efforts to get with MJ seem more obsessive than romantic. At one point, he becomes downright vindictive when someone else tries to get with her. It does not reflect well on Peter.

MJ isn’t much better. Zendaya is a great actress, but she comes off as flat and unemotional throughout this movie. Say what you will about Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of Mary Jane, but she still displayed a wide range of emotions throughout three movies. Zendaya’s tone and facial expressions barely change throughout this movie.

In essence, there’s no real chemistry between Peter and MJ. Given how critical this relationship is for the plot of the movie, that’s not a trivial oversight. It frames their actions and their decisions as something petty and selfish. There’s never a sense that Peter and MJ make each other better. If anything, they’re liabilities to one another.

In both the comics and the previous movies, this is not how the romantic sub-plots play out. While Spider-Man’s relationships have always complicated his efforts to be a better superhero, they ultimately make him stronger. They make his decision more heroic and his triumphs more satisfying. In “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” the romance was more a handicap than a challenge.

Compared to how other romantic sub-plots in the MCU, Peter and MJ’s is by far one of the weakest. It’s established that they’re attracted to one another. That’s the critical first step in any romantic sub-plot. However, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” skips the part where they actually start caring for one another before they develop deeper feelings.

Again, that’s not a trivial oversight. Compare that to other relationships like Starlord and Gamora, Pepper Potts and Iron Man, or even Thor and Jane Foster. It starts with attraction. The characters flirt and tease one another. Then, at some point, that flirting turns into genuine care. They show concern and emotion when they see one another in danger. From there, deeper feelings emerge.

None of that happens with Peter and MJ. Their interactions lack drama, which limits the personal stakes for Spider-Man’s battle against Mysterio. It helps that there are other personal stakes besides MJ that guide this struggle. If anything, those stakes would be a lot more powerful if the sub-plot with MJ were completely removed.

As bad as this romantic sub-plot is, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” still works because so many other elements of the movie are well done. Mysterio is a great villain who really capitalizes on the post-Thanos landscape of the MCU. Peter’s supporting cast, from his teachers to his Aunt May to his best friend Ned, all get a chance to shine. They help give this movie the right impact.

Compared to other Spider-Man movies, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” definitely exceeds the quality of the two “Amazing Spider-Man” movies that came before it. I would also say it’s slightly better than “Spider-Man 3,” albeit barely. If I had to score this movie, I would give it a 6 out of 10. It’s great, but not amazing.

For the MCU, especially after “Avengers Endgame,” the standards for a great superhero movie have never been higher. This movie met many of those standards, but a major flaw in a key sub-plot kept it from exceeding those standards. While I doubt this will hinder the franchise, I believe it’s a flaw that will only get worse if it’s not addressed in the sequels.

If you see the mid-credits scene, then you know what I’m talking about.

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Higher, Further, Faster, And Fun: A (Spoiler-Free) Review Of “Captain Marvel”

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Soaring to new heights, venturing into uncharted territory, and achieving greater things always requires a great deal of risk. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll only get what you’ve always gotten and that’s just not enough for some people. For Marvel Studios, the gold standard by which all other movie studios are measured, it has to take those risks in order to expand its dominance into another decade.

A movie as big as “Avengers: Infinity War” or as diverse as “Black Panther” had high stakes on top of higher aspirations. They had to keep raising the bar that Marvel Studios had already raised to unprecedented heights. Those movies both succeeded and raked in record profits, but even those movies never faced challenges like the ones faced by “Captain Marvel.”

Without a doubt, this movie will go down as one of the riskiest movies Marvel Studios has ever made, which is saying something for the same studio that made an “Ant Man” movie. It’s not just because “Captain Marvel” is Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie, nor is it because DC set a pretty high bar with “Wonder Woman.”

Captain Marvel” arrives with more baggage than any other superhero movie not associated with Joel Shumacher. In some respects, it’s coming out at the worst possible time. This is an era where gender politics are on a hair-trigger and features an actress who has been outspoken on where her political affiliations lie. It’s like bringing a tank of gasoline to a growing wildfire.

The context of this movie and its politics are already well-documented and I’ve made my opinions on it known. Beyond the politics, the heated gender debates, and coordinated efforts to tank this movie, there’s still one critical question that overrides all the baggage and burdens.

Is “Captain Marvel” a good movie?

Having seen it at a midnight showing in which the theater was quite packed, I can say in my humble opinion that yes. It is a good, entertaining movie. It doesn’t deviate too far from the Marvel Studios tradition of making superhero movies that are fun, entertaining, and heartfelt. However, “Captain Marvel” ends up achieving much more than that.

Before I go any further, I want to make a few comments about the heated politics surrounding this movie. I’m not going to focus too much on them, but I’m not going to avoid them, either. I get that some people will go into this movie with certain expectations and look for any excuse to justify those expectations. This is my response to those specific individuals.

No, this movie is not laced with radical feminist undertones.

No, this movie does not denigrate men or a specific race of men.

No, this movie does not make overtly political statements.

No, Carol Danvers is not a Mary Sue who is never allowed to fail or be wrong.

Yes, the movie is entertaining and fun in the tradition of good superhero movies.

Yes, the movie is respectful of the history and personality of the character.

Having said all that, I understand that there are a number of people who may disagree with every one of those statements. However, after seeing the movie and having time to digest all its high-flying details, I believe that doing so requires a level of outright pettiness that obscures just how good this movie is.

 

This movie does not have the luxury of expanding on a character who was previously introduced. Unlike Black Panther, Carol has nothing to build on when the movie starts. However, things move quickly once the action gets going. We find out early on that Carol is in a difficult situation, but tenuous situation. In addition, that situation helps further the world-building that is so distinct of the MCU.

We learn more about the Kree in the first 20 minutes of this movie than we have in any other Marvel movie, to date. They’ve been mentioned before in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but who they are and what they’re like is firmly established in “Captain Marvel.” Their iconic rivals, the Skrulls, are also introduced and it’s here where the movie really shines.

If you’re not familiar with the history of comics, it’s hard to overstate how critical the Kree/Skrull war is to the cosmic side of the Marvel universe. This massive war is something that Carol finds herself in the middle of and her role in it evolves over the course of the movie. Without getting too heavy into spoiler territory, it’s safe to say that this evolution is what helps make her Captain Marvel.

Carol’s story isn’t just about her seeking to fly higher, further, and faster. Through both flashbacks to her past and struggles in the present, her journey from being a loyal Kree warrior to Captain Marvel feels personal, even as it moves the story forward. At first, it feels like the story is on a predictable path. However, that changes, thanks largely to Carol’s the supporting cast.

This is where Samuel L. Jackson’s role as Nick Fury and Ben Mendelson’s role as Talos really complements the story. Their choices and their actions put Carol in a situation where she comes to some difficult realizations and has to make difficult decisions. In doing so, she becomes the hero that she needs to be, both for this movie and for the MCU.

It’s not unlike the evolution that other characters like Tony Stark and Thor have undergone. They start off with one particular outlook on their world. Then, they find themselves in a situation that undermines and even shatters what they thought was right and true. Rather than avoid the unpleasant implications, they confront them. That’s what heroes do and that’s what Carol Danvers does.

By the end of “Captain Marvel,” it’s easy to root for Carol. As she realizes her true power, she becomes the kind of hero that fits right in with the Avengers. The source of that power is not something she inherits or pursues. True to her comic book origins, her high-flying aspirations lead to an accident that comes close to destroying her. Also like the comics, it renders her vulnerable in unexpected ways.

Throughout the movie, Carol is guided and often frustrated by her limits. Some of those limits are things she puts on herself. Some are limits that others impose on her. Overcoming such limits, be they her own emotions or the actions of others, is the true strength of her character. It’s a strength that anyone, regardless of race, gender, or anything of the sort, can respect.

That’s not to say there aren’t flaws in that journey, along the way. In terms of a superhero origin movie, I would not put “Captain Marvel” above the ranks of “Batman Begins” or “Iron Man.” The movie does feel somewhat congested in several areas and the pacing, especially in the early parts of the movie, are a bit erratic.

There’s also an issue with villains in this movie, to the extent that they’re vague. Both the Skrulls and Jude Law’s, Yon-Rogg, aren’t going to give Thanos or Erik Killmonger a run for their money. Even the presence of a young Ronan the Accuser feels like a missed opportunity. While Carol has plenty of fights to pick in this movie, the lack of a major villain is somewhat glaring.

Let’s face it. Nobody was going to top THIS guy.

However, this doesn’t keep “Captain Marvel” from succeeding in the ways we’ve come to expect from Marvel Studios. The distinct bits of humor and tone are definitely there. The use of 90s nostalgia, from grunge rock to Blockbuster, works at every turn. The choice of music is spot on for every scene. Like “Captain America” and “Wonder Woman,” the time and place fits perfectly with the story.

By nearly every measure, “Captain Marvel” checks all the right boxes, in terms of a quality product from Marvel Studios. Again, it is possible for someone to single out certain scenes as proof that the movie is trying to make a political statement. However, I would argue that you could find similar scenes in movies like “Wonder Woman” and even “Deadpool.”

At the end of the day, if you’re really determined to hate this movie and label it as some sort of hit piece against a particular race or gender, you’ll find multiple excuses. However, it still requires a level of pettiness that requires someone to actively look for a reason to be offended and there’s already too much of that in this world.

If you watch “Captain Marvel” with the sole desire to be entertained and see the MCU evolve before your eyes, this movie will deliver in all the right ways. If I had to score this movie, I would give it a 4 out of 5. It’s a fun ride with a few bumps along the way, but is ultimately satisfying by the end. On top of that, the post-credits scene help further build the excitement for “Avengers: Endgame.”

Also, no matter your politics, the Stan Lee tribute at the beginning of the movie is beautiful.

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“Captain Marvel” Second Trailer

Another glorious preview for “Captain Marvel” has dropped. Let’s all take a moment to soak in its marvelous glory. She’s destined to fly higher, farther, and faster than any hero before her. Thanos is fucked. Nuff said!

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How The Captain Marvel Movie Could Actually Fail

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I hope everyone has had a chance to catch their breath after the release of the “Captain Marveltrailer. I certainly needed a day or two. It was one of those experiences in which it takes time to process every wondrous detail. I don’t know how many times I watched it. I just know that March 8, 2019 cannot get here fast enough.

The response to the trailer has been overwhelmingly positive, which has become the norm for all things affiliated with Marvel Studios. The bar for this movie is high, but matching and exceeding high bars is exactly what Carol Danvers does. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is already on an unprecedented win streak, both in terms of acclaim and box office. By all accounts, “Captain Marvel” is poised to continue that streak.

If I had to bet on it, I would place a hefty wager on “Captain Marvel” succeeding. Marvel Studios is riding such a huge wave of hype after “Avengers: Infinity War” that the idea of one of their movies failing seems unthinkable. However, it wasn’t that long ago that people felt the same way about “Star Wars.” Then, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” came along and shattered that notion with the force of a thousand Death Stars.

Like it or not, the law of averages dictates that Marvel Studios will fail at some point. Whether or not that happens with “Captain Marvel” remains to be seen. For the moment, that doesn’t seem likely, but the possibility is definitely there. I would go so far as to say that “Captain Marvel” is more vulnerable than previous Marvel movies and not just because the bar for success is so ridiculously high.

Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios, has gone on record as saying that Captain Marvel will be one of the most powerful characters in the MCU. Her presence will be a game-changer for the immediate and distant future. That means the margin for error is ridiculously small. Marvel Studios literally cannot afford for “Captain Marvel” to fail. That may end up being what makes this movie so vulnerable.

As a lifelong fan of superhero comics and a Captain Marvel fan, I feel like it’s worth contemplating this most distressing possibility. Never mind the implications for Marvel, Disney, and the entire superhero genre that may unfold in the event that “Captain Marvel” fails. How could a movie with so much going for it and an Oscar-winning actress in Brie Larson end up failing in the first place?

After watching the new trailer multiple times, reading multiple articles, and contemplating my previous comments on this movie, I’ve surmised a handful of concerns that I believe could derail this movie. Some of these concerns assume certain details that may very well be dead wrong by the time the movie comes out. I have no insight beyond the trailers I’ve seen and the details that have been made public.

I don’t expect everyone to share these concerns. Some may even have entirely difference concerns and I’d be happy to discuss them in the comics. For now, this is just me, as a fan of both Carol Danvers and superhero comics, contemplating what could go wrong for a movie that aspires to do so much.


Reason #1: Limiting The Extent Of Carol’s Agency (Inadvertently)

One of the biggest revelations from the second trailer had to do with an important plot point that was ripped directly from the comics. In the first minute, we find out that Carol’s memory has been erased and she’s caught up in the agenda of the Kree. Given how the only notable Kree character in the MCU to date has been Ronan the Accuser, this does not bode well for her.

This is a critical detail because in the comics, Carol lost both her memories and her powers at one point and had to effectively rebuild herself. That struggle helped establish how resilient she was, as a character. It also helped build her appeal. More importantly, though, it emphasized her struggle to regain her sense of agency.

Being mind-wiped is always a tricky plot point, as was nicely demonstrated in “Captain America: Civil War.” The biggest problem is being mind-wiped really hinders a character’s ability to make weighty choices. For Bucky Barnes, that isn’t too controversial. For Carol Danvers, a female hero in an era where female heroes have become fodder for identity politics, it could be an issue.

If, from the get-go, Carol is just a puppet of the Kree and her entire story revolves around her escaping their control, then that doesn’t just narrow the plot. It limits her agency because it makes her choices predictable. If, at any point in the story, she’s faced with a choice to follow the agenda of the Kree or go against them, it’s not going to surprise anyone when she chooses to go against the aliens trying to use her.

By making too much of the story about Carol re-asserting her agency, it makes the movie less about her fighting shape-shifting aliens and more about her regaining her independence. While that too can be a compelling story, and one in line with her history in the comics, it hinders the plot by making every choice obvious. When none of the choices in a story seem difficult, it can get boring fast.


Reason #2: Not Allowing Carol To Be Wrong

This is another factor that could make “Captain Marvel” too predictable and boring. Marvel Studios has made it clear that they want Carol Danvers to be the future of the MCU. Like Captain America, she’s poised to become the face of Marvel and their Disney overlords. For that very reason, it’s important that they allow her to be wrong.

To understand why, think back to “Wonder Woman,” the movie that set the gold standard for female superhero movies. In this movie, Wonder Woman doesn’t just make a fateful choice when she leaves Paradise Island. She also ends up being dead wrong about the identity of Ares. It made for a powerful moment that genuinely surprised me.

That moment didn’t just establish that Wonder Woman was fallible, despite being this overpowered badass warrior princess. It humanized her in a critical way. You could argue that this trait is more integral to Marvel’s heroes because they end up being wrong in a wide variety of ways. Tony Stark’s journey to becoming Iron Man started with him being wrong about something.

My concern for Carol is that making her this overpowered female hero who can defeat Thanos will take priority over everything else. The story won’t even give her a chance to be wrong or make a bad decision. That won’t just make the plot predictable and boring. It could earn Carol Danvers the dreaded “Mary Sue” label that has plagued characters like Rey.

That, more than anything, could derail Carol’s ascension to the upper echelons of the MCU. If she becomes a joke more than an icon, then she won’t be able to do carry out the bold plans that Marvel Studios has laid out for her. Part of what makes characters like Iron Man and Wonder Woman so popular is that they’re so easy to cheer for. Cheering for an annoyingly flawless character who is never wrong is much harder.


Reason #3: Not Effectively Explaining Carol’s Absence From The MCU

This is more a logistical concern than anything else. Before the first trailer ever dropped, it was established that “Captain Marvel” was going to take place in the 1990s. As a result, it would unfold within a world before the Avengers ever assembled and before superheroes ever became mainstream. It would also explore the origin of pre-eye patch Nick Fury, something that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” only hinted at.

That’s an intriguing idea that digs into an unexplored aspect of the MCU. At the same time, it does raise a major question. If Carol has been Captain Marvel since the 1990s, where has she been? Why wasn’t she available when Loki or Ultron attacked? While it makes sense outside the movies in that a “Captain Marvel” movie wasn’t even scheduled before 2012, those questions are still relevant in the story.

The end of “Avengers: Infinity War” somewhat compounds this issue because Nick Fury reveals that he has had a way of contacting Carol all this time. A tie-in comic also hints at his past dealings with Carol, but is vague on why he chose not to summon her. Chances are “Captain Marvel” will try to answer that question more in depth, but that answer might not be adequate.

It’s not a trivial detail that can be glossed over. If Carol doesn’t have a good reason for not being on Earth during invasions from aliens and genocidal robots, then that makes it harder to get behind her as the most powerful hero in the MCU. It can’t come off as an excuse because Marvel Studios hadn’t planned that far ahead. Without a good reason, Carol just wouldn’t come off as heroic.


Reason #4: Making Her A Female Superhero BEFORE Making Her A Great Female Characters

This is where the stakes for “Captain Marvel” get frustratingly political. I’ve mentioned before how creating quality female characters has become mired in identity politics. This movie has already been affected somewhat by those corruptive forces. “Wonder Woman” managed to avoid it from a plot perspective and that’s the most “Captain Marvel” can do.

This means that before Carol Danvers becomes the super-powerful, high-flying badass we saw in the trailer, she needs to establish herself as a character, first. This is something I’ve seen movies, comics, and TV shows get completely backwards in recent years. There’s such an emphasis on making someone a “strong female character” that they forget the part where they’re a compelling character.

Carol Danvers has decades of character development in the comics. She’s someone who has deal with upheavals in her personal life, her superhero life, and everything in between. It’s hard to fit all of that into a two-and-a-half hour movie, but both “Wonder Woman” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” showed that it’s possible.

I can easily imagine Marvel Studios feeling tempted to make “Captain Marvel” the kind of cosmic spectacle we saw in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I wouldn’t blame them for taking that approach, but having that without establishing the depths behind Carol Danvers would only be half a movie. Visual spectacles are great, but without quality characters, it’s just flashy images and nothing else.


Reason #5: Trying Too Hard To Make Carol Too Powerful

This issue is part logistics and part agenda. The events of “Avengers: Infinity War” were astonishing in terms of scope and scale. In the end, the collective might of dozens of Avengers could not stop Thanos. He was stronger than Thor, the Hulk, and the entire army of Wakanda. By default, taking him down requires a new level of power.

Carol Danvers promises to wield such power. Before the movie finished shooting, Kevin Feige dubbed her the most powerful Avengers in the MCU. That power may be necessary to defeat Thanos, but getting Carol that power could be tricky. Her power levels are already pretty extreme in the comics, but the MCU deals with different circumstances and scales.

The second trailer offers some clues as to how Carol gets her powers. Like the comics, they’re tied to her biology getting mixed up with that of the Kree. Beyond that, the scope and extent of her powers are vague. It’s not clear whether there’s something unique about her or the process that gives her so much power. At some point, she’ll have to level up and expanding powers in superhero media is always tricky.

When powers don’t have defined limits or are left vague, they tend to resolve every story in the spirit of a Deus Ex Machina trope. In short, there’s a supremely powerful threat. Then, by some contrived happenstance, the good guys gain access to power at or greater than the threat. It’s simple, but contrived. A DC movie may get a pass, but the bar for Marvel Studios is higher.


Again, I believe that “Captain Marvel” will be a great movie. Most of these concerns are just a byproduct of only knowing the movie through a couple of trailers. None of these reasons are inescapable. Given the impressive track record of Marvel Studios, there’s no reason to believe they won’t find a way to make it work and raise the bar even more.

One way or another, “Captain Marvel” is set to be a major turning point for the MCU. Whether it succeeds or fails, it will have a significant impact on the overall genre. However, it’s in the best interest for the MCU, Marvel, and superhero media, in general, that this movie succeeds.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, gender issues, Marvel, movies, political correctness, superhero comics, superhero movies, women's issues, Wonder Woman

Marveling At The Second “Captain Marvel” Trailer

The second “Captain Marvel” trailer has dropped. There’s a lot I’d love to talk about. For now, though, let’s just take a moment to marvel at what awaits us in March 2019.

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How To NOT Screw Up The Captain Marvel Movie

It’s a sad fact of life in an overly flawed world. You hope for the best, but it’s rare that it ever actually happens. Even when it does, it’s not always as much fun as you hope. Ask anyone who lost their virginity during a dare or stood in line for hours to see the Star Wars prequels.

In my experience, it’s rarely feasible to build your anticipation around something for what it can be if everything goes flawlessly. In the real world, there’s no such thing as flawless. People make mistakes. Parties go horribly wrong. Hearts get broken. Michael Bay is given too much money, cocaine, and high explosives.

When it comes to superhero movies, though, it’s not possible to hit a home run at every turn. You can’t expect them to blow your mind and give you the kind of mental orgasm that takes a week to recover from. At best, you can just hope that it doesn’t suck. I love those kinds of orgasms as much as the next guy, but let’s face it. They’re rare and awesome for a reason.

Some movies come close to achieving that kind of cinematic bliss, though. “Wonder Woman” sure did, but as I pointed out in my review, it did have its shortcomings. They were still very minor and by nearly every measure, it is the most successful female superhero movie to date.

More importantly, “Wonder Woman” proved that female superhero movies can be successful. They don’t all have to be box office bombs like “Catwoman.” That opens the door for other female heroes to follow in Wonder Woman’s footsteps. At the moment, though, the only female solo movie besides the Wonder Woman sequel is “Captain Marvel.”

Marvel may have DC beat in almost every other aspect of its movie universe, but now there’s one area where it can’t say it dominates. Sure, it has a lot of strong female characters like Black Widow, Gamora, and the Scarlet Witch. However, they’ve largely been in supporting roles. They’ve never had a chance to shine like Wonder Woman did in her movie.

Captain Marvel will get that chance. She’s the closest hero Marvel has to Wonder Woman, thanks largely to the efforts of writers like Kelly Sue DeConnick. As much as Marvel has dominated DC at the box office, it now has a sub-perfect record. Given the amount of ego and cocaine in Hollywood, there’s no way that Marvel Studios will let that stand.

I don’t doubt that Kevin Feige and the powers that be at Marvel Studio will make every effort to ensure that “Captain Marvel” matches and exceeds “Wonder Woman.” They’ve already cast the beautiful and talented Brie Larson as Carol Danvers. They also announced some major details about the movie at the San Diego Comic Con.

On paper, it looks like this movie has what it takes to match “Wonder Woman.” Then again, on paper I’m sure “Batman and Robin” seemed like a good idea. While I have high hopes for this movie, just as I did with “Wonder Woman,” I’m not going to set my expectations too high. Between the two “Matrix” sequels and “Wolverine Origins,” I’ve been burned too many times.

With that in mind, I intend to do for “Captain Marvel” what I did for “X-men: Dark Phoenix.” I’m going to provide some tips that I’m sure Kevin Feige will never see on how to avoid screwing up the “Captain Marvel” movie.

Wonder Woman” set the bar pretty damn high and looked dead sexy while doing it. It’s unreasonable to expect “Captain Marvel” to exceed it on every level. However, there are a few simple tips to ensure it doesn’t end up enduring the same infamy with “Catwoman.”


Tip #1: Let Carol Fly High (And Take The Audience With Her)

This is the most important tip, right up there with the Marvel Studios logo and Samuel L. Jackson dropping F-bombs, as only he can. Carol Danvers has a few defining traits beyond just looking awesome and kicking ass on a cosmic level. One of those traits is what makes her feel both distinctly human and someone we want to cheer for.

Throughout her history, Carol Danvers has been ambitious in a very particular way. Everybody, male or female, will look up at the stars at night and admire their beauty. Carol, however, doesn’t just want to admire. She wants to actually go there. She doesn’t want to shackle herself to this tiny little mud ball full of killer clowns, spiders, and the Kardashian family.

That’s why she joined the Air Force and fought to outperform everyone in her path. The fact she did that without a penis was secondary. Even before she got her powers, she aspired to go to the stars. Once she got those powers, she was determined to fly higher and go farther than anyone had ever dared, regardless of whether or not they had a penis.

Therein lies the key. Carol dares to venture out into the unknown and kick the ass of anyone or anything that tries to hold her back. That’s the kind of ambition people can get behind. That’s the kind of drive that people admire and want to follow.

It’s part of what makes Wonder Woman so endearing as a character to men and women alike. She has bold ambitions, but she isn’t an asshole about it. She doesn’t just seek to prove herself. She seeks to inspire others. That’s what Captain Marvel needs to do with her desire to go to go to the stars and carry the audience along for the ride.


Tip #2: Tie Carol’s Story Into That Of Mar-Vell’s

I get that there are times when it’s not possible to incorporate certain elements from the comics into a movie. That’s why we didn’t see any not-so-subtle BDSM themes in the “Wonder Woman” movie. However, the movie still made a concerted effort to capture some of the core details of Wonder Woman’s mythos, such as her iconic outfit and her relationship with Steve Trevor.

In the same way Wonder Woman needs her lasso and a desire to have sex with men who look like Chris Pine, there are some core elements to Carol Danvers’ story as a superhero that cannot and should not be glossed over. One of the most important elements involves her connection with Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel whose title Carol took on after his death.

Theirs is an unique connection, one with very different dynamics compared to Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. While there were some romantic overtones early on, their connection was more of a partnership rather than a romance. You can’t tell Carol’s story or get a feel for how she becomes a hero without telling Mar-Vell’s story as well.

That story doesn’t need to take up half the movie, but it does need to feel relevant. Mar-Vell’s story isn’t exactly boring either. He was an alien spy posing as a human on Earth on behalf of the Kree, a race that made it’s presence felt in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” There’s already some connections to build on. This movie just has to do it without a talking raccoon.

The key here is to use Mar-Vell’s story as an alien spy who grows fond of a beautiful Earth woman to supplement Carol’s story. That story is part of how Carol becomes Captain Marvel. That’s why when Kelly Sue DeConnick had Carol take on that title, it had a lot dramatic weight to it. That kind of drama is key for any successful movie, regardless of whether or not it has a talking raccoon.


Tip #3: Give Carol An Attitude (And Make It One To Rally Around)

One of Wonder Woman’s most defining traits, on top of being a beautiful warrior princess, is her capacity for love and empathy. Sure, she’ll fight with all her heart against demons, monsters, aliens, gods, and whatever asshole decided that “Ant Man” should get a movie before her. It’s that heart that makes her personality so endearing.

I point that out because Carol Danvers is not like that. Carol has an attitude and it’s not Wonder Woman. Just because Wonder Woman made a successful movie doesn’t mean Carol has to be too much like her because, in nearly every part of her 40-year history, she’s not like that.

Carol Danvers is a tough, hard-nosed woman who always pushes herself a little farther than anyone dares. That’s to be expected because she’s no princess. She’s a pilot in the United States Air Force. You need to have some attitude to make it there. There are real women who have succeeded in that effort. Let those women be the template.

The key is to do it in a way that doesn’t make her an arrogant bitch. I don’t doubt that’s going to be a challenge because the line between assertive and bitch is exceedingly blurred, more so for women than men. It’s an unfair double standards that people love to whine about, but never do anything to fix. Some argue it can’t be fixed.

That’s not an issue that “Captain Marvel” can hope to resolve over the course of a single movie. As such, it’s important that she walk that fine line in crafting her attitude. Again, Kelly Sue DeConnick struck the perfect balance when she took over Carol’s story in 2012.

She gave her a personality that was tough, but welcoming. She made her someone you want to hug, but don’t want to fuck with. Carol Danvers is ambitious and tough, but also has a strong sense of duty. Being a soldier, a pilot, and a hero, she sees that as part of her mission. It’s what makes her so likable as both a character and a hero.

She can have an edge, but she doesn’t have to be an asshole about it. Being an asshole is one of those traits that knows no gender. Brie Larson is a great actress who has proven that she can play tough, balanced roles. Let her do that and look sexy as hell in the process. That’ll help any movie.


Tip #4: Acknowledge Carol’s Faults And Let Her Bear Burdens

In addition to her attitude, Carol Danvers does has faults. Again, and it’s worth repeating, she is not Wonder Woman. She’s not some demigod princess whose beauty and strength were forged by gods. She’s an ordinary American woman who got her powers because she ended up working with an alien spy. She a fallible, mortal human being with tangible flaws. Any movie about her shouldn’t hide those flaws.

Some of those flaws are more obvious than others and I’m not just talking about the unpleasantness surrounding the plot with Marcus Immortus. Despite being ambitious and determined, Carol tends to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie and is prone to take stupid risks. This has gotten her into trouble before and quite recently in the comics.

With that in mind, it shouldn’t be too surprising that she’s also an alcoholic. However, it’s not the kind of alcoholism that we see with Iron Man. His brand of alcoholism is largely a product of irresponsibility and poor coping skills. Carol’s alcoholism is more about escaping her problems.

In the context of her character, that makes sense. She grew up looking at the stars and wanting to actually go there. She’s always pushing herself to fly a little higher and faster. When she’s unable to do that, she looks for an escape.

For her, accepting limitations is not easy. That’s how her alcoholism got so destructive in the comics, so much so that even Iron Man noticed it. When Iron Man says you have a drinking problem, you can skip the intervention.

That doesn’t mean that Carol has to be a total drunk in the movie. It doesn’t even have to be overtly stated. The reason why Carol drinks is more important than her actually drinking. Accepting limits is difficult for her. It’s a key part of her story and her personality. Let her endure those burdens. Let her confront those flaws. She doesn’t have to be Wonder Woman. Let her be human, with or without her powers.


Tip #5: Make The Kree/Skull War As Epic As Possible

This is somewhat indirect of Carol’s story, but one that’s vital if “Captain Marvel” is to be a fitting addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Beyond just being one of Marvel’s most powerful female characters, her movie also has to expand the overall mythos of the MCU. “Wonder Woman” did that too with DC, albeit on a very limited scale.

In this case, though, that scale needs to be turned up to eleven and given an unlimited supply of crack. That’s because it was announced at the San Diego Comic Con that the “Captain Marvel” movie would introduce the world to the Kree/Skrull war. Talk to any long-time Marvel Comics fan, like yours truly, and they’ll tell you two things. One, She-Hulk is uncomfortably sexy. Two, the Kree/Skrull war is insanely epic.

We like to think we humans are pretty damn good at war. We’ve fought so many of them over our history. Compared to the Kree/Skrull war in the comics, though, we might as well be a bunch of two-year olds playing with melted action figures.

This war is beyond anything Stephen Spielberg or Christopher Nolan could ever capture. For one, this war is on a galactic scale. It’s not just about warring tribes who don’t agree on how many goats to sacrifice during the summer solstice. These are two very different species with very different visions for the galaxy. As big as the galaxy is, it’s just not big enough for them to co-exist.

This massive war has influenced many areas of the Marvel Universe within the comics. It’s usually inevitable that the Avengers, X-men, or any major superhero team from Earth gets caught up in it whenever they dare to leave the planet for more than five minutes. It’s a huge part of the cosmic elements to Marvel, which “Guardians of the Galaxy” just started exploring.

Given the success of those movies, “Captain Marvel” has plenty to build on. Carol Danvers is a soldier. Putting her in the middle of an epic war the likes of which few humans can even fathom will help bring out the best in that soldier. That’s why the Kree/Skrull war has to be as epic as a galactic-level war deserves to be. It’ll bring out the best and worst in all those involved.


There are a lot more tips I can give, but these are the big ones. Unlike “Wonder Woman,” Captain Marvel doesn’t have the burden of proving that female superheroes can hold their own. That has already been proven, so much so that even Ryan Reynolds from “Deadpool” acknowledged it.

More than anything else, “Captain Marvel” must show that Carol Danvers is someone who deserves to be in the same league as Wonder Woman. She’s not the same icon that Wonder Woman is, but she has the potential to be. This movie could finally help realize that potential. It could also be a “Catwoman” level screw-up and no character, male or female, deserves that.

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