FIRST LOOK: Captain Marvel!

Hey Everybody,

Paul here…

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I’ve always been a big Entertainment Weekly fan. For a major publication, they were on the geek bandwagon way before it was as mainstream as it is now. Some of my favorite books, TV series, and so much more have been put on my radar because of EW (I never would have discovered The Dresden Files without them and what a tragedy that would be). I have digital subscription to the magazine and check out their website almost every day, they have great stuff. Presently, I would argue the magazine covers more sci-fi-fi, fantasy, comic book, and superhero content ( Y’know… “Geeky Stuff”) than any other kind of entertainment. Being so “geek friendly”, EW gets some fantastic scoops and access from companies and studios like Marvel, DC, Disney, and HBO to name a few.

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)

Of course, Marvel decided to give us our best look yet at the upcoming Captain Marvel movie starring Brie Larson as the title character. Captain Marvel real name is Carol Danvers. The cover story of their next issue is a Captain Marvel article. As much as I would have liked to see a trailer, (fingers crossed we’ll get that soon) these pictures are cool as fuck.

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As has been reported before, this movie takes place in the 90’s, so all kinds of characters are fair game that would otherwise be unavailable. Either for story reasons or because their dead. One of the coolest things revealed by EW is that even though this is an origin film, the movie starts with Carol already having gained her powers. She’s off in space working for The Kree Empire as part of a kind of alien special forces team called Starforce.

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To refresh your memory, The Kree are a race of aliens we’ve seen pop up in multiple MCU projects, most notably Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of SHIELD (Surprising right? Agents of SHIELD ended up getting pretty fucking good). The Kree are blue, very technologically advanced, pretty huge pricks, and have always been fascinated by Earth and humanity. Basically thousands of years ago, The Kree experiment on a select group of humans and altered their DNA. When exposed to “ Terrigen”, a Kree chemical which can be administered as a mist or ingested, humans with Kree DNA undergo a metamorphosis that usually gives them some kind of superhuman ability. However, in some cases the metamorphosis can also change their biology so radically they no longer appear human. These individuals, anyone who went through “Terrigenesis” became know as The Inhumans. The original purpose of this was for The Kree to use these Inhumans as warrior weapons, but humans can be hard to control. The ancestors of the humans who underwent these original experiments are still alive today with Inhuman DNA. These are the people SHIELD has to deal with. Like anyone else superpowers, some of them are good some of them are bad. This is NOT how Carol Danvers gets her powers, but it is an important piece of history between The Kree and the human race.

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The most prominent Kree we’ve seen on screen so far is Ronan The Accuser, the villain from the first Guardians of the Galaxy, who also died at the end of the movie (Yeah, I know spoilers, but fuck you if haven’t seen that movie yet). With Captain Marvel being set in the 90’s, Ronan will return for this film, as you can see in one of the photos below. Also returning from Guardians Vol.1 is one of Ronan’s lieutenants, Korath played by Djimon Hounsou.

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Inhumans and The Kree have been a large part of Agents of SHIELD throughout the show. They were like the MCU’s answer to Mutants, which were off the table (But maybe for not much longer). Everyday, average people with Inhuman DNA who developed superpowers and the problems that come along with that. Like I said very similar to Mutants in X-Men.

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Some of the uglier, more evil Inhumans, secret badass Phil Coulson has had to deal with.

We also get to see Carol as an Air Force fighter pilot before she becomes Captain Marvel.

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)Carol’s mentor in the movie is a Kree Captain named Mar-Vell played by Jude Law. Apparently he runs the Kree Special Forces Team she’s apart of. In the comics, he’s the original Captain Marvel, so it’s really cool to see him included. He can appear more or less human.

0C44DCB9-2522-4C29-BC18-E52B88DA2EAAOf course, at least some of the movie takes place on Earth. Again taking advantage of the 90’s setting, here we see a young Nick Fury. With both eyes! It might seem stupid, but I love that we’re going to get to see how he loses the eye. In one of the rare jumps from the small screen back to the big screen, none other than SHIELD agent Phil Coulson will be joining in on the fun.

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVELNick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)
They’re just getting better and better with this de-aging VFX. I mean, LOOK AT THAT!

Oh yeah, it’s the 90’s

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL
Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)

Possibly my favorite picture, this gives us our first look at one of the most significant alien races in the history of Marvel Comics: The Skrull. Like The Kree, The Skrull also have always had an interest in Earth. In the comics, some Skrull believe it’s their destiny to inherit (fucking take over) the Earth. Most importantly, every Skrull is born with unparalleled shapeshifting abilities. They can become anyone and that’s what makes them so dangerous. They’re master infiltrators. It’s also worth noting that The Kree and The Skrulls have been mortal enemies for thousands of years. So it’s likely this movie will draw heavily from the classic Avengers story, “The Kree/Skrull War”.

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVELLeft: Talos (Ben Mendelsohn)
The Skrulls, led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn)

Here we see one of The Skrull called Talos, played by Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One), in his human form as a SHIELD agent.

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In the comics, Monica Rambeau is a superhero that has gone by both Photon (like the call sign on her jet) and Spectrum. The name on the plane is MARIA Rambeau. Is this the the same character or a relative? Are they setting up Spectrum for the Captain Marvel sequel?

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVEL
Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch)

This is Spectrum from Marvel Comics.

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Everything I see about this movie gets me more excited. This looks fucking great. Now we just need a goddamn trailer!

-Paul

 

* All photos source Ew.com

What I Want to See: The Women Of The MCU

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I finally saw Ant-Man and The Wasp yesterday, and I realized something, Hope Van Dyne is my favorite female character in the MCU. Realizing that made me reflect on the role of women in the MCU.

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It’s been pretty well discussed among critics and fans that for a while the MCU had a female problem.  Despite Black Widow having been introduced in the third (of 20 so far) MCU films, she took a long time to gain prominence in screen time, or plot relevance (I’m not sure we’ve even seen her have more screen time or relevance to the story, than anyone but Hawkeye).  Fans were asking for a Black Widow film, and Marvel Studios’ response was something along the lines of “when it’s right we’ll do it”. which at the time probably felt like a cop-out, but they were having the same complaints made about having a non-white main character and they were giving the same response. At the time, it really felt like the MCU had a diversity problem, but in fairness they tried to address the problem. They quickly began to introduce characters like Sam Wilson as the Falcon, Rhodey to be War Machine/Iron Patriot started to have a larger role and more screen time, they added Scarlett Witch to the team, for example. Many argued this was a half measure, they were all secondary characters and not a solution to the problem. They were definitely steps in the right direction and they filled in some gaps. It was very clear that women and non-white males needed to be the titles characters of their own movies.

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Black Widow’s 1st Appearance In The MCU: Iron Man 2

The MCU started using crossovers and the team films to be able to add new characters, layer their universe, and make it more three dimensional.  In Civil War, we were introduced to the MCU version of Spider-Man and finally Black Panther. Pretty quickly, it was clear that both would be getting their own films, but the MCU as a single cohesive piece was more important, so they tend not to rush into things and it payed off.

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Shuri stole the show in Black Panther.

Spider-Man: Homecoming was a big success, but Black Panther was a cultural phenomenon. Black Panther showed us that the MCU could handle a film with a non-white main character, a majority non-white cast, and come out with a critical and box office smash.  Black Panther not only stood on its own two feet, but it absolutely crushed the competition. The two most prominent white characters are played by Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. Both are well established actors, but they’re certainly not mega-stars like Tom Cruise or Matt Damon.

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The second crucial thing Black Panther did, was almost double the MCU’s roster current of important, strong female characters.  Prior to this what did we have?  Scarlett Witch, is a decent character, but I personally don’t think she’s nearly as fleshed out as she could be.  Black Widow, tends to be used more in her relationship with which ever male hero needs her (i.e. in Winter Soldier with Cap, or in Age of Ultron with Bruce/Hulk).  Pepper?  I think we’re all honestly surprised when Pepper pops up for a cameo anymore, but really she isn’t much more fleshed out than Friday.  Jane Foster, might have been a good addition, except it seems that Natalie Portmant doesnt have much interest in playing Jane Foster anymore. So that’s not entirely the fault of the MCU.  The only two pre-Black Panther characters that seemed to be totally realized and fleshed out female characters were Gamora and Hope Van Dyne. In Ant-Man, Hope is the most capable character, the main character arc belongs to Scott Lang.

7841C1EC-837C-4572-95B8-B2F6AB8B6C5F         In Black Panther, we got three really great female characters in; Shuri (who is strong willed, intelligent, competitive, funny); Nakia who almost forces T’Challa to play the ‘fawning love-interest’ character due to her commitment to bettering Africa and the world; and Okoye who is one of the fiercest normal humans in the MCU.  Would you want to fight Okoye?  Do you think you could outsmart Shuri on literally anything?  Do you have more compassion for any group of people than Nakia does?  They’re all incredible, and while they have their ‘defining’ attributes, they’re not only those things.  Shuri is funny, and brave.  Nakia is in love with T’Challa, but refuses to let that be her guiding principal. Okoye, despite being a total bad-ass is also a loving girlfriend/wife (they don’t really say) who also stands up to her love when he is on the wrong side.

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Black Panther pushed us further toward the MCU ‘sweet spot. Now we have Ant-Man and The Wasp and it’s the first time in the MCU that a woman is one of the title characters.  The Wasp does not disappoint.  She’s the most bad-ass fighter in the film, she totally shows up Ant-Man and even the pseudo-villain Ghost. She’s a dedicated, intelligent woman trying to be reunited her mother.

16E15BD3-B591-433C-B06D-F73F450B36E324F37A45-717D-4396-97BA-B180D2B8C407Something Hope/Wasp and the women of Black Panther manage to do, is balance the characters between being what we want in super-heroes while not removing their femininity.  They also don’t play on any female stereotypes or tropes. We don’t see any of the female characters being played as ’emotionally erratic,’ while also not playing them off as unfeeling.  It’s a hard balance that Hollywood in general has difficulty was and the MCU has done pretty well avoiding those pitfalls. Which is really impressive considering that so far, all the directors in the MCU has been mad.

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So what do I want to see when it comes to females in the MCU? That leads us to Captain Marvel.  For Captain Marvel, we’re going to get our first female (solo) title character.  We’re also going to get our first female director (co-director, but to be fair, Anna Boden has directed all of her films with her husband Ryan Fleck).  I really want Captain Marvel to be great.  I want it to be as great as Black Panther and a game changer in the same way Black Panther was. I want Captain Marvel to be an amazing character with depth, but also a total bad-ass.  The DCEU had their only smash success to date with Wonder Woman because it’s a genuinely good film. I hope Captain Marvel is at least as good (perhaps with a better villain). Because Captain Marvel will not have the momentum of being the first like Wonder Woman was, but it does need to be successful.  One of the major takeaways from Black Panther and Wonder Woman was that people respond to diversity in their entertainment. However, if a movie like Captain Marvel fails, Hollywood probably won’t learn the right lesson from it.  They won’t say “oh Captain Marvel sucked, let’s try a Black Widow film instead!”, they’re more likely to say “oh maybe Wonder Woman was an anomaly and the audiences don’t really want female lead superhero movies.”  It’s bullshit logic, but as I’ve written before Hollywood almost always learns the wrong lessons.

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If Captain Marvel has some great action set pieces and the character is as well developed and well acted as Hope Van Dyne, Okoye, Nakia, Shuri, and Gamora, I think they’ll have a hit on their hands. If that happens Hollywood will do more to replicate it.  The MCU has done a great job creating this universe and I’m confident that Captain Marvel will not be an exception to that rule. I know I’m really excited.

D9297F0E-0085-4D54-9786-6A3A8D4C8636Because, honestly?  I love watching great women characters, especially when they kick ass.  That’s so much more interesting to me than the damsel in distress. I don’t know maybe I’m not ‘alpha’ enough, but something I find attractive (not just on a romantic/sexual level, but attractive in a friend, or in my wife, or when I’m proud of my sister ) is characters/people who have passion. It’s what we admire about male characters right?  You love that Tony Stark is pursuing (albeit awfully) the betterment of human kind through science, or that Captain America is passionate about the ideals of freedom and what America is supposed to be.  Why wouldn’t we look for the same in our female characters? I never understood that.

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So, what I want to see, is an excellent Captain Marvel movie, and if there is a love interest, I hope it’s not shoe-horned in.  After that, I hope that Captain Marvel opens us up to more female lead films in the MCU.  I’m patient, I know it won’t be overnight, but with a few more hits in Phase Four, and then they’ll be on a roll.

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Written by Michael Cole