Why is Reviewing the “Captain Marvel” Movie So Hard?

cap marv

Promotional image for the movie “Captain Marvel” (2019).

I didn’t want to do this. I still don’t have to, but then again, there’s more hype about this movie than even last year’s Black Panther. When I was anticipating watching and reviewing that film, I was “irrationally” afraid that if I didn’t like something about it, I’d be forever labeled a “racist.” Fortunately I thought it was one of the better Marvel films, and that although it told a story of significant meaning to African-Americans, it also transcended race as the epic tale of a Prince confronting the realities of becoming a King.

However, Captain Marvel (2019) which will have its general release to theaters this coming Friday (March 8th), seems to be getting a lot more press than Black Panther, at least to the best of my recollection.

First of all, according to The Mary Sue (which leans pretty far to the left), the movie is getting tons of bad reviews pre-release, but it’s only being reviewed by misogynistic white males who hate the idea not only of powerful women, but of Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) being the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe, even more so than Thor or the Hulk (okay, I’m exaggerating slightly).

c|net also supports the Captain Marvel film stating that in spite of the negative reviews, the movie is “certified fresh” by the Rotten Tomatoes site.

In rebuttal, Bounding Into Comics (the article is written by a male) states:

If you scroll over to Rotten Tomatoes, and select the “rotten” reviews her lie is exposed. There are only 8 “rotten” reviews and one of them comes from Lindsey Bahr of the Associated Press.

But you see, the problem is perfectly parodied by Matt Walsh at The Daily Wire:

Not one to break the rules, I will say only two things about “Captain Marvel”: (1) I have not seen it, and (2) It is a towering artistic achievement. You may object to my reviewing a movie I haven’t seen, but why do I need to see it? I already know what opinion I must — literally must — have about it. And so I can report that “Captain Marvel” is the most remarkable film ever to grace the silver screen. Frankly, it makes “Citizen Kane” look ridiculous, by comparison. I feel the sudden urge to go to Orson Welles’ grave and yell at him for making a movie that is so much worse than “Captain Marvel.” I do not know why any filmmaker ever bothered to make movies that aren’t “Captain Marvel,” or why they will continue to make movies even though “Captain Marvel” has already been made.

Now remember Walsh’s comments are parody, but behind every joke there’s a meaning. In this case, the concern is that anyone who doesn’t like the Captain Marvel movie for any reason whatsoever is sexist and misogynistic, at least according to a number of leftist publications.

Actually, I think Walsh’s point is more that any white cisgender male who doesn’t like the Captain Marvel film is sexist and misogynistic, because there could never possibly be any other reason to dislike any aspect of the movie to any degree at all.

My problem is that I want to be fair, and by fair I mean, I won’t automatically like or dislike the Captain Marvel film because of either the positive or negative hype. That means, shock of shocks, that when I see this movie and then write the review, the review will be focused, to the best of my ability as a human being, on how entertaining I found the film and if the story made some sort of sense.

I will not reflexively gush because this is supposed to be a “feminist” movie with a “powerful female main character,” nor will I pan the film for those reasons. I will, however, probably complain if I felt the movie was doing more social justice lecturing than entertaining. No, it’s not that a movie can’t contain an important social lesson, but at the end of the day, I want my heroes to be heroic.

Chris Evans in Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014), which is probably my favorite Marvel movie to date, was heroic. Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther was heroic, and even the occasionally blatant social messaging didn’t overshadow the power of his epic hero’s journey.

news source biasHours before I decided to write this blog post, I went looking for the most unbiased (in either direction) review of Captain Marvel I could find. According to my handy-dandy news bias and quality chart (see above), the Associated Press (AP) is both high quality and bias neutral. As it turns out, Lindsey Bahr wrote a review of the film for the AP titled Review: ‘Captain Marvel’ gets an average introduction. I’ve already put a link to that review on Facebook and even tagged Ms. Larson on twitter just to show that it’s possible for people like me (white cisgender male) to desire to view her movie and her performance in a fair and even-handed manner. I’m sure with her being so popular just now, her twitter feed must be overwhelming, and after all, I’m only one voice in a vast chorus, so in the end, my opinion doesn’t matter.

Just for giggles though, I went over to Bahr’s twitter account and found the following:

bahr

Screenshot from twitter

I think Bahr is trying to be fair as well, and frankly, it’s refreshing.

Now, I haven’t actually seen the movie yet and it’s a coin toss as to whether I’ll see it in the theaters (movies are expensive and I don’t have a large entertainment budget). If my grandson wants to see it (so far, he says he’s not interested, but that could change if he thinks it’ll help him understand what’s going to happen in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame) then chances are so will my sons and I. If not, well, like I said, I don’t have a lot of coin these days to spend just for me.

Of course, I’ve seen the last several Marvel movies, including Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), and the previously mentioned Black Panther and Infinity War films only after they were released to DVD and became available through my local public library system. So it’s quite possible that I will view both Captain Marvel and Endgame through that channel as well. That will also be months and months after the hype for both movies has died down to a dull roar (although I discovered that the outrage over the failed 2016 Ghostbusters remake has recently been rekindled), which should let me assess the “entertainability” of the movie in relative peace.

As Bahr said on twitter (I’m dramatically paraphrasing), “Why does watching a comic book movie have to be so hard?”

Oh, and according to c|net:

The Brie Larson-starring film about how Carol Danvers became one of the world’s most powerful superheroes officially opens in the US on March 8, International Women’s Day.

No, Marvel and Disney aren’t trying to send a message here, are they?

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12 thoughts on “Why is Reviewing the “Captain Marvel” Movie So Hard?

    • In this case, both the film and the reviewers (most of them anyway) are trying to send a social message which has taken on a life of its own and, in many ways, has become more important than the actual movie. There was a lot of initial hype about the Black Panther movie which eventually died down. The power surge of emotions about Captain Marvel will pass as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe”

    HAH. Shows what they know. The most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe was Jean Grey as Phoenix, jus prior to becoming Dark Phoenix.

    The more they push the message, the less likely this middle-age woman is to part with hard earn coin to view. Push too hard and I won’t even rent from library.

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    • To be fair, they’re talking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the X-Men, including the upcoming film featuring Dark Phoenix, belongs to Sony. Actually, in 1963, when the X-Men were first created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Jean Grey, AKA Marvel Girl, had kind of wimpy telekinesis powers. She ramped up to telepathy in 1968 (X-Men #42) when Professor X died (it was later revealed to be a ruse, the mutant called the Changeling impersonated Xavier for a long, complicated reason). She only became the Phoenix after being exploded to a deadly dose of radiation from a solar flare in in X-Men 101 (1976) and even that was later revealed to be another piece of misdirection.

      If we wanted to talk about powerful female heroes, why leave out the Scarlet Witch, the Valkyrie, She-Hulk, Spider Woman, Storm, and tons and tons of others?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have no idea who is behind the Ace of Spades HQ blog, but they really are sarcastic. Really. Their commentary on the upcoming Captain Marvel film makes what Matt Walsh wrote seem tame by comparison. This movie really is generating a lot of drama and trauma.

    However, the write up did make me aware of Male Gaze vs. Female Gaze which I’d never heard of before, but since the concepts are artifacts of feminist theory, that’s small wonder. What I don’t know about feminist theory would fill libraries.

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  3. Ah, the movie public – wonderful, aren’t they?
    You don’t have to not like a movie or like a movie just because a female hero is in it. Nor because it centers on a race or group of people. I was blown away by “Wonder Woman”. I thought “YES! They finally did her character so that her power makes sense.” Also, have enjoyed the Avengers’ movies with the two lovely ladies as heroes kicking butt.
    I am looking forward to seeing Captain Marvel, though it may be on DVD or Netflix as well.
    Scott

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    • Politics have definitely saturated this film in a way that’s both good and bad. It’s good in the sense that there’s no such thing as “bad publicity”. It all serves to focus the public’s attention on the movie. It’s bad in a sense that you get the feeling you can’t just go see the movie to get into two hours of superhero fantasy. You have to get “the message”.

      I also saw and enjoyed Wonder Woman. I think Gal Gadot did a fantastic job in the role. She totally owned WW. There was one small part of the movie where the “mask” slipped and you could see the “lecture” underneath, but fortunately, though obvious, it was brief. Other than that, how Diana was depicted continually encountering culture shock was terrific.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The spoilers don’t bother me since I probably won’t see the film for months. Yes, the review pretty much confirmed what I’d already learned. It’s a mediocre Marvel film but the movie isn’t the real problem, it’s the hype about the movie and some of the things that Brie Larson said (or at least how they were interpreted). In spite of Larson saying that “Captain Marvel” is a “feminist” movie, it really doesn’t shove that point down anyone’s throat as far as I’ve read.

      Like

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