Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Sweet Moments You Don’t Want to Miss in “Captain Marvel” and This Hit is One More Piece in a Gigantic Jigsaw Puzzle


I’ve just come from seeing “Captain Marvel” at my local Showcase Cinema. I was alone in a huge theater, save one girl who looked like Ally Sheedy in “Breakfast Club.” The theater itself was freezing. Also, “Captain Marvel” is playing next door in a competing theater complex. Maybe everyone was over there.

I went to see Brie Larson. She did not disappoint. Larson was captivating in “Room,” “The Glass Castle,” and “Short Term 12.” With “Captain Marvel,” she proves she can do anything. And with the money from the franchise, she can take chances now on edgy films.

As it is, “Captain Marvel” was made by a pair of directors who are already unusual, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. They’ve some seriously lovely indie films like “Half Nelson” and “Sugar.” They’ve directed episodes of the woefully underpraised “Billions.” You knew they’d make a great movie.

And they have. For girls and young women, “Captain Marvel” will resonate for generations to come. It’s about empowerment, mentorship, and yada yada all those good things.

But it’s also got some sweet stuff for Marvel fans. This film is yet one more piece in a gigantic jigsaw puzzle that’s building to “Avengers: Endgame.” It brings back Nick Fury in the person of Samuel L. Jackson, de-aged, as well as Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson from “Agents of SHIELD.” So we’re getting origin story upon origin story here, which makes Marvel fans twinkle with delight. (I remember when I was a kid, and comic books cost 12 cents. The letters in the back were from fanatics then who were piecing it all together with cellophane tape. I used to think, these people are really nuts.)

Anyway, Stan Lee died right at the last minute since there are many tributes to him in “Captain Marvel” that you don’t want to miss. The movie is dedicated to him. But also the animated Marvel logo opening is a montage of his scenes from past movies. Plus, Captain Marvel runs into him on a bus, where they have an exchange. If I hadn’t been alone in my theater, I’d have clapped.

There’s lots of fun in the “CM” screenplay, too, including a shout out to Brad Pitt. (His kids, who will see the movie, should be impressed.)

But mostly, what you get from “Captain Marvel” and its two post-film scenes is this: the utter devotion these Marvel people have to their mythology, how seriously they take it, and how they can keep referencing their universe over and over. This is what the DC Comics movie people could never figure out. I am in awe of how the Marvel people have built and built thing to this end. After seeing “Captain Marvel” take off like a rocket this weekend, I can only assume “Endgame” will be volcanic when it arrives.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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