Captain Marvel is many things: a compelling origin story about a former Air Force test pilot turned alien supersolider, Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie, a way to reset the MCU after the extreme bummer that was Avengers: Infinity War, a two-hour ’90s nostalgia trip, and a movie in which Samuel L. Jackson spends at least 50 per cent of his screen time cuddling a cute cat.
One thing it’s not, however, is some kind of anti-male screed, as some of the internet’s more unsavoury corners might have you believe. All because its star Brie Larson had the… audacity, I guess, to advocate for increased representation in Hollywood and the media that covers it, leading a bunch of toxic man-children to decide the movie is “not for men.” They went so far as to claim that white guys were being “banned” from Captain Marvel press screenings.
Still, despite the fact I’m both white and male, Disney (or is it Brie Larson? I’m having a little trouble tracking this particular crackpot conspiracy theory) allowed me to see the movie before it hits theatres March 7, and as a public service, I’m here to run down all the various groups that Captain Marvel is most certainly “for.” Including, presumably, you.
As an end-around to avoid dealing with all your pesky post-Infinity War questions, Captain Marvel takes place in 1995, making it a pseudo Avengers prequel. And from the second Larson’s character crash lands in a Blockbuster Video, the movie’s extremely invested in playing up its ’90s setting. There’s Troll Dolls, VHS tapes, an AltaVista joke, plus a soundtrack predominantly comprised of ’90s girl groups – Captain Marvel’s as much a Buzzfeed “Only ’90s Kids Will Remember This…” article as it is a mainstream superhero movie.
Is it a little on-the-nose that the MCU’s first female-led movie has a fight scene set to No Doubt’s “Just a Girl”? Okay, yes, sure. But it’s also kind of perfect.
Doubling as origin story for Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and his Avengers Initiative along with Larson’s Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel helps fill in a few important blanks leading into next month’s Avengers: Endgame. Answering crucial questions like, “What was the deal with that pager at the end of Infinity War?,” “How’d Nick Fury lose his eye?,” and “What happened to Agent Coulson’s hairline?” Fine. So some of these questions are more pressing than others…
Agent Coulson fans
Anyone who watched (is still watching?) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is well aware that Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson is still very much alive – but on the movie side, Fury’s former second-in-command has been MIA since the second act of the first Avengers movie. Thanks to the ‘90s reset, the unlikely fan favourite is back in action here as a S.H.I.E.L.D. rookie, providing a familiar (albeit digitally de-aged) face for fans, alongside Jackson’s two-eyed Nick Fury.
Stan Lee stans
According to MCU head honcho Kevin Feige, Captain Marvel wasn’t the last of Lee’s patented cameos filmed prior to his death this past November. But as the first official MCU movie to come out since then, the film manages to work in a tribute to the late Marvel founding father that’s equal parts clever, irreverent, and touching. We’re not crying. You’re crying.
Lovers of ’90s action movies
If Captain America: Civil War was an ode to ‘70s spy thrillers, Captain Marvel’s lovingly inspired by action classics like True Lies and Terminator 2, as the film doesn’t just lift from the ’90s for its soundtrack and set dressing, it also pulls from a few of the decade’s most beloved action flicks.
Fans of the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies
That’s right: RDJ and Jude Law are officially back in the same cinematic universe again. Playing Larson’s mentor Yon-Rogg/the leader of the Kree version of SEAL Team Six, Law’s basically just here to sport a rubber suit and yellow contacts and spout expository dialogue about “communing with the Supreme Intelligence,” but it’s always fun to see the latest “real actors” the MCU’s managed to bring into its ever-expanding fold.
Goofy sci-fi name aficionados
Yon-Rogg? Bron-Char? Mar-Vell? George Lucas would be proud.
Indie movie buffs
Before Captain Marvel, filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck wrote and directed acclaimed indie dramas like Half Nelson and Mississippi Grind, making them just the latest set of filmmakers to jump from low-budget indies to major blockbuster franchises (see also: Johnson, Rian and Trevorrow, Colin). Generating Sundance buzz has basically become the Hollywood equivalent of tearing it up in the minor leagues.
There were parts of Captain Marvel that made me want to stand up and cheer, and then there were parts that made me want to stand up, leave the theatre, and immediately go home and coochie-coo my cat. Goose (that’s the cat’s name) isn’t just some fuzzy Easter Egg for comic fans, or a way to humanize Larson’s Kree-ified Captain Marvel (because he’s much more Fury’s buddy). The orange tabby’s a legitimate supporting character, a major scene-stealer, and at least 10 times more Oscar-worthy than that no-talent Jack Russell terrier from The Artist.
Anyone looking for a little more variety in their superhero movies
Not to knock the tried-and-true Marvel formula, which has produced more platinum hits than Quincy Jones, but after 21 MCU movies (and counting), it can get a little repetitive watching the same origin story over and over, just with different superpowers. Especially when nine times out of 10, that plot roughly boils down to “Arrogant (but Charming!) White Dude Discovers He’s Actually Even More Amazing.” No judgment – I love those movies as much as the next guy – but there’s something to be said for switching it up every once in a while.
And even though Captain Marvel’s got plenty of that now-signature MCU house style in it – from its high-gloss CGI spaceships to the exposition/irreverent quip/more exposition dialogue structure – there’s a few key differences (including the absence of some half-hearted love story).
Anyone who’s ever been told they should “smile more”
So, women, basically.
Whether it’s a subtle nod to those ludicrous memes accusing Larson’s Captain Marvel of being too serious or just pulled from, you know, the actual real-life experience of every woman ever, there’s an early moment where some dude-bro biker tells Larson to lighten up and asks if she’s got a smile for him. Showing that not even “by the most powerful character” in the MCU is immune to sexist catcalls.
— Kevin Polowy (@djkevlar) February 27, 2019
MRAs (and other assorted man-children)
It seems counterintuitive, I know. And not to waste any more digital ink on these guys than is absolutely necessary, but if there’s anything this tiny, overindulged subsection of toxic fanboys loves, it’s the opportunity to act aggrieved and rage-tweet over perceived slights. And they haven’t had it this good since the time Hollywood had the nerve to suggest women could be Ghostbusters too. The horror.
Have you seen those presale numbers? With Captain Marvel primed to make serious bank and Endgame looming, the Marvel machine’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Plus, now with Larson, the MCU’s got its shiny new Avengers 2.0 crew ready to take over following the conclusion of the first generation’s storyline (and, more importantly, their nine-picture deals).
Real talk: if you’ve seen the other 20 movies, there’s no chance you’re missing this one.