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Captain Marvel: A Mediocre Marvel Film Not Worth the Culture War

Captain Marvel: A Mediocre Marvel Film Not Worth the Culture War

When even progressive websites like Slate and Vox can’t find any enthusiasm in pandering to the movie maybe there isn’t much gas in the tank

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has reached a strange point of cultural dissonance between progressivism and fanboy disdain. Fans of the movies want politics out of the films while progressive filmmakers want to use the massive platform Disney superhero movies provide to push their messages.

As the success of Wonder Woman and Black Panther have shown, there is a market for diversity, and progressive filmmakers are prepared to use them to push intersectionality and identity politics. Disney is happy to tag along so long as they make a profit and avoid negative articles about how Whiteness is ruining their franchises.

Captain Marvel represents the first female lead film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In and of itself, this shouldn’t be controversial; however, the film’s lead actress Brie Larson has seen to it that the film’s promotional campaign is fraught with overt progressive jabs against white male moviegoers.

In my opinion, she’s a very talented actress. I remember seeing her in a small independent film Room in 2015 during the lead up to announcements for preproduction on Captain Marvel thinking she’d actually be an excellent lead for the film.  She carried an incredible vulnerability in that film. She was mean and tightly wound, but her emotions were the result of pressure from the horror of being a kidnapping victim suffering from trauma. I thought this vulnerability and emotion would be perfect for Marvel Studios to build a movie around. The Captain Marvel of the comic books is carved in stone, primarily fueled by her reputation as the leading lady of Marvel Comics and as such rarely gets a good showing.

Not Bad but Nothing Special

It’s much to my surprise then that Marvel Studios has apparently missed the reason Brie Larson was a good choice for the role in the first place and emphasized the worst aspects of the character as she’s presented in bad modern comics like Civil War II. She’s stern to a fault, unrelatable, and stubborn. She’s doing the Clint Eastwood thousand-yard stare with an emotionless affectation that’s intended in the plot to be an outgrowth of training as an alien soldier.

Larson’s acting ability is wasted on a performance like this. The best moments her character has are the moments when the facade melts briefly and she’s allowed to be a jovial if hypercompetent space warrior. Unfortunately, those moments are sparse.

Captain Marvel isn’t the total train wreck that some people were hoping for. On the margins, it’s essentially on par with lower-tier Marvel Studios films like Thor: The Dark World and Ant-Man and the Wasp, which both have moderate fanbases.

Like all films in the MCU there’s a baseline competency to the filmmaking. The action choreography, production design, and color grading are as solid as ever. The film also comes bolted to the hip with tons of cameos of younger versions of minor characters from the other movies like Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, and Ronan the Accusor. Unfortunately, there’s no solid foundation to form this story on.

The only real story arc of the film is Captain Marvel’s quest to understand her identity. The story context suggests a subtext about transcending society’s arbitrary limitations, but there’s no personal growth for her character. Captain Marvel just learns about her secret past and becomes more powerful as a result of it.  The end.

Brie Larson v. Marvel Fans 

A lot of conservatives and anti-social justice warriors are going into the film ready to hate it, and truthfully, the problem isn’t the film itself. The directors are on record claiming the movie is a feminist movie, but I don’t know how much I agree with that. Most of that just manifests in progressive dog whistles where Brie Larson gets hit on by male soldiers and is told she can’t keep up with her peers and to smile. They’re brief, cringy, and on the nose moments that pass quickly.

Larson hasn’t helped with the film’s lead up of course. She famously went on record saying, “I do not need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about Wrinkle in Time. It wasn’t made for him. I want to know what it meant to women of color, to biracial women, to teen women of color, to teens that are biracial.”

Her overtly intersectional feminist comments and the air of mutual hostility between Marvel fans and Larson have fueled the intense mutual disdain.

When even progressive websites like Slate and Vox can’t find any enthusiasm in pandering to the movie maybe there isn’t much gas in the tank.


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i can’t imagine watching this tripe for free, let alone paying for it.


DouglasJBender | March 10, 2019 at 2:22 pm

I’m sorry, but it’s simply against God and Nature to have a female be the supposedly most powerful hero/superhero. The husband is to be the provider and protector, the head, of the household, not the wife; and God says it is shameful for a woman to lead a nation. Nature itself clearly shows that men are the physically stronger sex.

“Captain Marvel” is just another example of the anti-God chipping away at the godly ideal of strong and noble masculinity. I am not against strong female superheroes, mind you — but when the STRONGEST (from what I have heard) superhero is a female, then THAT is an intentional subversion of the way things naturally are and should be.

    I have watched the controversy with detached bemusement. Let’s just say I don’t think the lead actress and the marketing have been particularly warm to a good segment of the audience. I have little emotional investment in any of it. I have heard the film is not as bad as many feared, and that is fine with me. I also heard about the forced “girl power” angle, but I nonetheless cut creators a lot of slack.

    You, however, I will cut no slack. You are making me ill. Your view is disgusting. It is not disgusting for any -ism. It is disgusting because you condemn all fiction, and all reality, as you command it to kneel before your personal dogma.

    If physical might was the only thing that mattered, Goliath would have snapped David like a twig and things would be very different. So please, with all due respect, shove it.

      DouglasJBender in reply to JBourque. | March 10, 2019 at 7:16 pm

      “You, however, I will cut no slack. You are making me ill. Your view is disgusting. It is not disgusting for any -ism. It is disgusting because you condemn all fiction, and all reality, as you command it to kneel before your personal dogma.”

      Did I do that?

      “If physical might was the only thing that mattered, Goliath would have snapped David like a twig and things would be very different. So please, with all due respect, shove it.”

      I don’t recall saying or suggesting anything like “physical might is the only thing that matters”, and I know for a fact that I have never personally attacked or insulted you. I also know that what I said is Biblically true, and so I would infer that your emotional and personal response is due to a problem with God and His truths, rather than with me.

      But I do hope you’re feeling better.

      I love your comments, JBourque, but did DouglasJBender really warrant this fierce response? Disgust at the idea that women are strong but not “the strongest” IN SUPERHERO terms seems a bit over-snowflake.

      Of course I don’t think you are a snowflake, but why react so strongly to a pretty tame comment? I’m just curious (and a woman, who has no illusions about my super-superhero status, heh).

        Because it’s bad enough to say it’s not physically viable in real life. Neither is a hundred pounds soaking wet boy able to pick up a car or climb the side of a building like a teen-sized spider. To criticize that is to strike at fiction itself. That’s one. But to dovetail into a woman leading a nation being offensive to God, using the “protector” role of the physically stronger man to justify it… even if I conceded it should dictate our modern, real world, why should it dictate our fiction? Can even Old Testament myths survive that kind of scrutiny?

        It cuts very close to attacking all myth, religious and non-religious alike. The enrichment of the human soul is a noble pursuit, and demands a few brief words of outrage in its defense. It’s one thing to say sexist things, even to justify them through religion, but to turn that into a condemnation of art… even art I did not personally rate highly… that, is simply ugly. The sexism is a minor annoyance to me, no more. But, a world without stories and dreams is a very dark place indeed.

          DouglasJBender in reply to JBourque. | March 10, 2019 at 10:09 pm

          Your problem, Jeremiah, is that you reject God and His Word. You have an innate antipathy to Him, and it. That is why your reaction to my post was so emotional and over the top. There is a spiritual reality that transcends the physical, and there is a spiritual battle going on over truth, particularly about God, sin, and salvation. This battle manifests in the physical realm, primarily in arguments and movements about truth and ideologies.

          Satan, fallen angels, and demons are real. And they hate and fight God, and they hate and fight the truth, and they hate and fight Christianity, and they hate and fight Israel. I have experienced their hatred and activity directly. In fact, I became a fervent Evangelical Christian back in mid-October of 1989, when God intervened in my life one evening around 7:00 p.m., as I was alone and driving north on Johnson Street, between Beardsley Avenue and Bristo Street, in Elkhart, Indiana (USA). I had been a hardcore (but polite) atheist for roughly two years prior, and I was in no way seeking God or hoping for there to be a spiritual reality. Evolution was the answer, and when you die, you’re dead, and that’s it. That was my view, when God intervened, gave me a choice, and I repented and chose Him. Once I did so, God cast a demon out of me as I was driving, and at the moment God cast the demon out of me, I heard (in my mind) a very panicky, “No!! NO!!”, and then the demon was gone.

          DouglasJBender in reply to JBourque. | March 10, 2019 at 10:10 pm

          “Bristol Street”

          healthguyfsu in reply to JBourque. | March 11, 2019 at 1:28 am

          I have to agree with JBourque. Bender is showing the anithetical side of the spectrum opposite the activistress in the movie.

          Concise in reply to JBourque. | March 11, 2019 at 11:49 am

          May I interrupt this idiotic exchange to ask who the heck Captain Marvel is? I suspect (hope) half the people who bought tickets didn’t have a clue. On second thought, don’t tell me who it is, I don’t care. Hoping for a big loss in the second week run.

    You forgot the /sarc tag.

but there’s no personal growth for her character.

Phooey. Might as well just do a remake of Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | March 10, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Captain Lost Marbles?

DouglasJBender | March 10, 2019 at 3:25 pm

Curious: Who downvoted my comment, and why?

Being an old white guy, I’m not the intended audience for this film, so I’ll give it a miss. Ms. Larson’s lecture was enough for me, I don’t want any more scolding.

Wonder Woman was an enjoyable film; it had a heroine that wasn’t perfect in every way, that had to learn about loss, about how mankind is less than perfect, & how to use her superpowers. She was also extremely feminine and sensual. As she is a white woman, I don’t understand your line about how that film’s success shows “a market for diversity.”

As it is, I haven’t been to the theater since The Return of the King back in 2003. I was thinking about seeing Alita: Battle Angel, but couldn’t find a place near me showing the 3D version, which is highly acclaimed. It’s OK; I can wait.

Terrible advertising technique. The SJW are hardly mainstream athletic or movie goers anyway. They might catch a single Spike Lee film in a safe neighborhood, but that is it.
They did the same publicity stupidity with Wonder Woman. So much so my wife passed it up. I eventually made her watch with me. We loved it. Great family film with one minor female joke that my wife laughed with.

Captain Marvel’s quest to understand her identity. The story context suggests a subtext about transcending society’s arbitrary limitations,

yawn. Another progressive sermon.

Most galling is the horrible fact about the purported heroine and sex symbol in this film: she has a flat ass!

Just saw the movie. I was tempted to pass it but, since she’s apparently going to save the day in Avengers: Endgame, I thought I would watch it.

Yes, it’s mediocre. I liked it better than Black Panther, not as much as Thor: Ragnarok.

Brie Larson’s acting was part of the problem. For most of the movie she was wooden. The alleged hyper-emotionality she was accused of numerous times during the movie was nowhere to be seen. I’ll take your word for it that she’s competent. You can’t tell from this movie.

The most interesting character in the movie was the chief Skrull, Talos, played by Ben Mendelsohn. He came across as a charming rogue. I wouldn’t mind seeing that character in more Marvel movies (assuming I actually go to see more of them, other than the next Avengers one). The less said about Annette Bening and Jude Law, the better.

By the way, Carol Danvers, once known in the comics as Ms Marvel, was never “the leading lady of the Marvel Universe” and Brie Larson never will be. In the comics, if there was such a leading lady it was Sue Richards. In the movies, up until now it’s been Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow.

I don’t see Brie Larson supplanting Scarlett Johansson in ANY universe.

Somehow “It’s not as bad as some people might say” doesn’t make it worth lightening my wallet in order to help prop up still more Hollywood SJW hectoring.

Progressives can fund their own boring agitprop. Include me out. I am not heartened by the assertions that the movie only stomps on our faces just a little bit.

JustShootMeNow | March 10, 2019 at 8:21 pm

Movie & snacks, $40. 4K DVD, $30. Not this time Marvel

I saw Superman years ago starring Reeves because my aunt wanted me to take her. Didn’t like it and never understood adults going to watch cartoon characters on the big screen.

    bhwms in reply to 4fun. | March 11, 2019 at 10:24 am

    I liked the first Superman movie – not so much for the movie, but the soundtrack. The opening fanfare alone was enough for me to go out and buy the LP…

    tyates in reply to 4fun. | March 11, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    I read comic books when I was sixteen and enjoyed them, but I agree I’m not going to go see comic book movies in my 40s. The only reason Hollywood makes them is because they appeal to the overseas market.

One of the great things about Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics is that the women were interesting. It’s a shame that the movie makers can’t think of anything better to do than cast women as male characters, instead of writing something new. The women are being short-changed.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Valerie. | March 11, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Comics have taken a dive. She actually does assume the mantle of Captain Marvel in the comics as well in a shameless ode to super woke feminism.

    However, in the movies, they are omitting the original male Captain Marvel altogether and starting with her.

    Black Spiderman and Wolverine coming soon…

I went and checked one of the reviews on youtube- which was politically neutral. The official review was about the same. The comments however slayed the film.

About half the comments were of this nature: “I’m can’t wait to watch this on Saturday when my wife is spending the night at her boyfriend’s house.”

Let’s just say the youtube peanut gallery isn’t buying the feminist schtick. Audiences are still pissed about the last Jedi. Don’t even get them started on what they did to Supergirl.