The twenty-first film instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was to be an important film in many ways. Firstly, this was to be Marvel Studios first female led superhero film, and secondly this was to be the film that finally revealed Captain Marvel – a character that audiences have been led to believe as being vitally important to the fight against Thanos and possibly even the key to defeating him. With Endgame scheduled to be released just weeks after Captain Marvel’s release, Captain Marvel was surely going to be a very important part of the MCU.
There was controversy surrounding Captain Marvel before it was even released. On reviews aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, a flurry of negative reviews for Captain Marvel flooded the site before the film was even released.
This lowered the film’s audience score significantly and led Rotten Tomatoes to change how users can comment on films before their release. The film appeared to face this backlash based on comments made by Brie Larson regarding her concern over the “overwhelmingly white male” film journalists she has encountered over the years.
When Captain Marvel was released it grossed over $825 million at the box office, but in spite of its box office success – why are so many people saying that Captain Marvel is one of the weakest MCU films to date?
1. Bland Characters
Marvel has come to be known for its colourful, fun and complex characters. Whether you are Team Iron Man or Team Cap, whether you love the Guardians or Spidey is your main man – there is a character that appeals to everyone. These characters have many facets to them and are great to watch.
Captain Marvel introduces us to some new characters as well as bringing back some familiar old faces. Characters such as Nick Fury and Agent Coulson are already well-established with the audience, so what new exciting characters would we be introduced to now?
Well with Captain Marvel herself being the titular character, we could fairly expect her to be the most interesting and engaging character – it is her film and it is her moment to shine. However, the problem with Carol Danvers is that she is not the best character, not by a long shot. As Carol spends a fair amount of the movie searching for who she is and trying to discover her past, it means that she does not feel fully developed and her personality is lacking.
Carol Danvers frequently wonders what makes her tick, and frankly so does the audience. Other new characters such as Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos and Jude Law’s Yon-Rogg are good but just not quite good enough and are no match for some of the MCU’s other supporting characters. When you ask a Marvel fan to list their favourite characters, can you honestly imagine anyone saying any of the cast from Captain Marvel?
2. The film is just filler for Endgame
With one of the biggest films of all time and the crowning glory of the Marvel Cinematic Universe due out just mere weeks after Captain Marvel’s release, it would be fair to say that Marvel Studios would not want anything to detract from Endgame. But with that being said, Captain Marvel was still a highly anticipated film for many people – so why did Marvel treat it like it was just a handy little stop gap before the ‘real thing?’
Look at the evidence. Shoehorned into being released on International Women’s Day in the guise of making it ‘meaningful’, Captain Marvel has been completely overshadowed by publicity efforts for Endgame. There appears to have been little to push the film out into the forefront. Trailers and posters have been dropped at random times with little to no fanfare, and Captain Marvel game spots were released during much smaller scale big games – a special look at Captain Marvel was dropped during the College Football Playoff.
Absolutely no disrespect to the College Football Playoff, but it is not as widely known as other game spots. Of course, you can argue that any Marvel film that had the misfortune of being released just before Endgame was going to suffer, it is just such a shame that it had to be this one.
Considering how hyped up the role of Captain Marvel has been in the overall narrative and how Carol Danvers may be integral to the defeat of Thanos, Marvel’s treatment of her solo movie does not represent this. Captain Marvel has been given to ‘tide us over,’ which is incredibly disappointing.
3. It does not live up to its potential
The MCU can boast many things, but one thing that it sorely lacks is female led and female orientated films. Yes, there are some great female characters – Gamora, Black Widow, The Wasp, Scarlet Witch etc. But there was yet to be a film solely about a female superhero.
With the DCU having massive success with their own female led film Wonder Woman, fans of the MCU had high hopes for their own version of a female superhero origin story. This was another film that marked an important step forward in the representation of female power, female superheroes and females in film.
Although Captain Marvel does make some marked improvements on female led superhero films, for example Carol Danvers’ appearance is not referenced unlike the multiple references to Diana Prince’s appearance in Wonder Woman, the film still does not quite hit the mark with its strangely outdated take on feminism. It feels like the film is often saying “look at this woman, she is just as strong as a man!” instead of simply saying “look at this strong woman.”
Lines such as “it’s called a cockpit for a reason” and playing Gwen Stefani’s “I’m just a girl” during the pinnacle fight scene – we must be constantly reminded that Captain Marvel is powerful in spite of being a female, she is even more impressive because she is a female. What is wrong with simply showing a powerful woman without adding all the shock and surprise at her gender attached to it? It’s a noble attempt at feminism, but it isn’t exactly empowering.