MCU Daughter Order – Captain Marvel
I’m rewatching the Marvel Cinematic Universe with my daughter in whatever order she feels like. After 2012’s The Avengers, we jumped ahead in the timeline, but also traveled back in time, for 2019’s Captain Marvel.
Our Progress So Far
After She-Hulk got my daughter into the MCU, we watched The Incredible Hulk. This lead to us bouncing back and forth around the early MCU, watching Iron Man, then Iron Man 2, then Black Panther. before finishing Phase 1 in order with Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers.
Between Coulson’s death in The Avengers, wanting to know how Nick Fury lost his eye, and disappointment that she hadn’t seen a girl with super powers since She-Hulk, Captain Marvel ticked all the boxes of the next MCU movie my daughter wanted to watch.
Captain Marvel And Me
In my younger days of collecting comics, I irrationally disliked any Marvel character with Marvel in their name. Captain Marvel? Didn’t like him. Ms Marvel? Nope. The other Captain Marvel? I actually never caught her name, even though she appeared in a few What If issues I owned. But if I had known? Unacceptable!
I didn’t like Ms Marvel until the confusingly named Alias (the source comic of the Jessica Jones streaming series, unrelated to Jennifer Garner TV series of the same name that also released in September 2001 and had similar vibes).
She filled the gossipy but supportive best friend role that went to Trish Walker in the Jessica Jones series. Unlike Patsy, Carol Danvers already had powers when she and Jessica met. It created an interesting dynamic where super non-hero Jessica Jones would watch Ms Marvel fly off to fight crime and contemplate if she’s wasting her powers.
I believe writer Brian Michael Bendis got permission to use Ms Marvel because there wasn’t much going on with the character. Over the next 10 years, that changed. She received a new series written by Kelly Sue Deconnick, featuring a new look and a new name: Captain Marvel.
Then, a few years later, Marvel did it again.
Those aren’t variant covers, that’s two different Captain Marvel #1s, one from 2012, the other from 2014. Both written by Kelly Sue Deconnick. You might notice the Marvel Now! logo on the second cover. But did you notice the All-New along the side of the logo? That’s because Marvel had two initiatives within three years to relaunch titles. The 2012 Captain Marvel became Marvel Now! Captain Marvel as of issue #9, but kept the numbering until November 2013. Then it relaunched as All-New Marvel Now! Captain Marvel #1 in 2014. That ran until May of 2015, and then…
January 2016’s All-New, All-Different Marvel Captain Marvel #1. Unlike Marvel Now! and All-New Marvel Now!, which continued the pre-Marvel Now! continuity, All-New, All-Different Marvel (not Now!) rebooted the universe. Now Captain Marvel lead Alpha Flight on a SWORD space station. An OK idea, but I just wanted to read some fun adventures of a character I enjoyed. Why did Marvel make that so hard?
Revisiting Captain Marvel
When Marvel Studios announced a Captain Marvel movie, I didn’t know what to expect. The character didn’t have a definitive personality or iconic storyline. Finding out it would be set in the 90s didn’t clarify anything.
That said, I think setting the film in the past added to an overall fun film. Despite being one of the lowest rated MCU entries on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, I thought Captain Marvel did everything Marvel movies are known for well, and stood on its own in many ways.
Captain Marvel’s Look
Let’s start with a superficial point! They nailed the look. I’m glad the movie chose the modern Captain Marvel costume. Better yet, it translated very well to film, with a nice mix of practical space warrior uniform and super hero costume.
The other visuals hold up as well. Nick Fury’s face might be the greatest de-aging effect ever. The Kree and Skrull make-up make both alien species interesting and distinct (other than normal human looking Jude Law). The mind probe sequences stand out from dream and fantasy sequences. Finally, all of the photo blasts, space battles, and starship sets looked spectacular.
I joked in my Avengers revisit that no one went into The Avengers expecting a Samuel L Jackson/Scarlett Johansson/Gwyneth Paltrow buddy movie. Maybe we should have, because I loved every Captain Marvel/Nick Fury scene. Obviously Carol holding back was a central theme of her struggle, but seeing her playful side as she uses this government agent who thinks he could take her in a fight was delightful. I think this is my favourite Nick Fury movie, and seeing him be vulnerable with Carol is why.
The whole cast played off one another wonderfully. Little moments and character interactions add surprising humour throughout, like when Rune Temte as Bron-Char compliments Djimon Hounsou’s Korath for being traditionally handsome, or when Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos needs it explained to him where the sun don’t shine.
Probably the most underappreciated performance is Annette Bening as both Mar-Vell and Carol’s interpretation of Supreme Intelligence. Although we only get a few scenes of her as Mar-Vell, many of which are distorted through the mind probe filter and other flashback devices, her warmth and camaraderie sells her as Carol’s mentor.
Plans In Both Directions
Setting this film in the 90s didn’t just give directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck the opportunity to make Blockbuster references and load the soundtrack up with grunge hits and No Doubt. They brought back Coulson, established why Fury trusts him so much, and fill in some blanks on the evolution of S.H.I.E.L.D.
We also got to see Korath and Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser again. Getting one more round of these villains also foreshadows that the Kree don’t have Carol’s best interests in mind. As I see it, this divides the audience into three categories: those who know the Kree from the comics and know they’re villains right away; those who don’t know the Kree, but know Korath and Ronan from other MCU films so they suspect the Kree are villains; those who don’t have any preconceptions of the Kree and are along for the ride. As someone in the first category, I’m curious how the other categories felt about the Kree as the movie went on.
Funny enough, those same categories also affect how you take the Skrull reveal. I did not expect the Skrulls to be sympathetic and go on to work with Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. in this and later MCU entries. But rewatching Captain Marvel with this in mind, Skrulls could have been much more aggressive and devious, but weren’t. So I again wonder how audiences who don’t know that Skrulls are traditionally villains saw their arc.
Going back in time didn’t just let the filmmakers revisit dead characters. It let them setup stories that need years to develop, and then jump to the present ready to tell those stories. Monica Rambeau gets to grow up and become Spectrum and the Skrulls now have decades to establish their secret invasion.
Similar to what I said about Black Panther, there’s an early scene that feels designed to hit the Marvel movie quip quota. When Carol’s escaping the Skrull ship, she’s cracking jokes and acting like discount Tony Stark, and it falls flat. I don’t know if it’s just me, if it’s intentional on the part of the filmmakers, or if it’s a producer giving notes who starts heavy handed and then gradually loses interest.
A couple of common complaints about Captain Marvel are that it hits the theme too hard, and that the soundtrack is too on the nose. Both of these complaints converge in the last act when Just A Girl Plays as Carol beats up her Kree ex-coworkers. I do think the movie tries too hard to be the 90s equivalent of Guardians of the Galaxy’s soundtrack. And without the connection the main character has to the music playing, it doesn’t work as well. That said, it’s hardly egregious enough to ruin the movie.
My Daughter’s Thoughts
I don’t think my daughter’s ever laughed at a movie scene -MCU or otherwise- as much as when Carol punched the old lady on the train. The punch, followed by the old lady’s acrobatic fighting style, had her calling my wife in the other room to tell her what just happened.
My daughter also enjoyed scenes where Carol wasn’t abusing senior citizens. However, more than most MCU movies, she had questions. “How come she’s fighting the Kree, aren’t they her friends?” “Why isn’t she using her powers?” And a bunch of “I don’t understand”s that made us pause and rewind, including every time a Skrull revealed themself.
Although my daughter didn’t get the feminist themes the movie explored, she unknowingly related to them. She wanted to see a girl super hero. And not just a girl good guy, like Black Widow and Maria Hill. She wanted a super-powered, flashy-costumed super heroine. She doesn’t mind watching the super powered boys, but even at seven years old, she picked up on the disproportionate representation of men in super hero movies and wanted more.
Between helping with that ratio, and giving us some breathing room after The Avengers but before Phase 3, this was a great time to watch Captain Marvel.
Phase 3! We’re back to release order for 2013’s Iron Man 3.