Captain Marvel – Better Than I Expected – A White Male’s Review

Christopher Estrada for RunPee
Chris Estrada: RunPee’s Newest Guest Geek Extraordinaire!

Guest article by Christopher Estrada

I am no Marvel Cinematic Universe newbie. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all but one MCU film to date — that one being 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. We were thrown into the middle of Dr. Banner’s story with little in the way of actual origin story. Maybe Marvel was leaning a bit on the other Hulk movie released not long before the MCU version. Or maybe they just didn’t want to get bogged down with the cinematic birth of The Hulk. Whatever the case, I wasn’t, and am still not impressed, with the big green guy’s first MCU outing.

All of this is to say that I went into Captain Marvel with apprehensive expectations. Which actually was disappointing for me. Immediately following Avengers: Infinity War, I was excited for the first female-led MCU movie. I wanted to learn about the Captain trademarked by the comic book company.

Can A White Man Review Feminist Films?

Then Brie Larson made headlines that were…off-putting…with talk of the movie being very feminist…and not wanting white males crowding the press tour…and then we had Brie’s speech at the Oscars.

black panther and king T'Challa
Inclusivity also means white males count too. It means that everyone can have talent. Gender and color should be meaningless, although society isn’t there yet.

I mean, I get it. This is 2019 and a highly politicized era. The world is pushing for more representation of people of color, and of women. That is all admirable and great things to work towards. But it’s not really the fault that white men today — and film critics and reporters — are white males. It could be argued that news organizations and film review publishers are at fault. It could also be argued there simply aren’t as many women and people of color that want to be film critics and reporters. Not that there shouldn’t be: just that it is up to the individuals to want to do that job, and to be good enough to get the job.

Despite my Hispanic surname, I am a white male. It’s yet to be decided if I am good enough at writing and critiquing to be doing it. (This is my second attempt in the area. The first being my thoughts on the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame. And while this review may be published, I could very well be uninvited or ignored in the future.) But is it my fault that I’m not a person of color? That I would have an opinion on entertainment? That the RunPee Family noticed a theory of mine in a discussion on their Facebook page?

My point is that it really shouldn’t matter what ethnicity or gender a person is. What should matter is whether what they have to say is worthy of publication. People of color are just as capable as any white man of having thoughts on any subject. The question is how many of them practice the craft, and pursue a job or freelance work in that field. The more of them that do so, the more of them there will be in the field. It takes time.

So, I was less excited about going to see the movie than I was just a few months ago. But I still wanted to see it. I still wanted to add more MCU canon to my brain. I wanted to give the movie a chance.

A Captain Marvel Review (with mild spoilers)

captain-marvelI’m glad I did. The movie was, in my white male opinion, a success. Is it as good as Black Panther or DC’s Wonder Woman? No. But it is a decent movie.

The origin story is fleshed out through the movie. Sometimes in jarring, unexpected flashbacks. Other times, in ways that make perfect sense for the flow of the movie.

There is some decent comedy sprinkled throughout. The best of which came from Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D Nick Fury, and his interactions with Goose, the brilliant ginger cat that steals every scene s/he purrs into.

Likewise, the seeming antagonistic Skrulls were a good source of humor. The titular hero, on the other hand…Brie’s acting in the comedic bits was…unconvincing. She seemed kind of stiff when it came to cracking puns back at her co-stars. I’m not saying I didn’t get her jokes, or that I didn’t laugh. I did. It was just a bit delayed in comparison with the other funny parts. I think the exception is when she crashes to Earth near the beginning of the film. The stiff acting actually made sense, and made for decent humor when she asked if the human security officer understood her. When she asks for a communication source and he points at Radio Shack — here it worked.

The action is typical Marvel quality with good choreography and CGI special effects. The overwhelming powers Carol Danvers wields is made crystal clear when she breaks free of the Kree binds, and confronts her former team.

I was somewhat disappointed that she didn’t fight and overcome Jude Law’s character in a non-powered exhibition at the end. She basically pulls an Indiana Jones pistol shot, on the bad guy with a sword in the courtyard in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was worth a short chuckle. But it would have been awesome to see her best him in the hand to hand combat they were practicing early on. Then Ronan’s reaction when Carol blasts her way through one of the enemy ships was also a chuckle-worthy bit. It was all fairly anti-climactic in my estimation, though.

gregg clarke as agent coulson in captain marvel
A digitally de-aged Agent Coulson. They de-aged Nick Fury too.

The CGI to make Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg look younger is a tough cookie. Fury looked pretty good — maybe a little plastic or rubbery. But Coulson…he just looked weird and inconsistent. The facial CGI is still a technology that needs to improve. Forward and backward in age…

The film was touted as being a very feminist movie. Everyone from Larson to Kevin Feige made a point to advertise it as the first female MCU hero movie. The trailers etched the tag line in our heads. “Her” flashing into, “A Hero”.

Then we saw the mantra heavily repeated during the Super Bowl Captain Marvel trailer saying “Higher, Further, Faster.” And the flashbacks of authority figures telling the younger Carol what she should, and shouldn’t — or can’t be doing — and her exclamation of “I’m kind of done with you telling me what I can’t do.” The theme isn’t bad. In fact it’s a great theme that should help uplift girls and women everywhere. Sadly, I think the film falls short of that message overall.

There are flashbacks to Carol’s time as a human child, teen, and young adult, where we see her father and other authorities telling her negative things: what was shown in that Superbowl trailer, but sprinkled throughout the film. Then we see all of those flashbacks at once, just before she realizes her full power.

But the theme wasn’t played up enough to amount to anything more that this one person saying that, yes, she can. Carol never sits down and tells little Monica to never let anyone hold her back. That Monica, and by extension all girls, can do what they want if they put their minds to it. If they push past their own limits and do what others say they can’t: this is a missed opportunity in my opinion.

Women Superhero Films Today

This missed opportunity kind of negates the leftist politics and feminist push from the PR campaign before the film released. The politics aren’t in your face. That makes this a fairly typical Marvel movie.

LEGO 2 - Wonder Woman
Even Legos deserve our respect.

It’s actually an interesting comparison with Wonder Woman. Ultimately both films center on each franchise’s first female-hero led film. Both show awesome, bad-ass women kicking butt and proving that women make excellent warriors. Both are origin stories. Both are prequels to a larger universe. But they both left me in different places. We knew more or less what was next for Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, because what was next was actually shown to us before, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

What’s next for Captain Marvel is a bit of a mystery still. We know she will be in next month’s Avengers: Endgame. But since we haven’t seen that movie yet, and we expect her in it, this story feels incomplete to me. Yes, she completed her objective for this movie. But we’re left wanting more in a different way than Wonder Woman. I think part of this is because of the mid-credits scene which shows us a flash-forward to the post-Thanos-Snap world. It leaves us by teasing us.

justice league superhero characters
Oh yeah, Wonder Woman is in there. It’s a start.

Another difference between the two comics movies is the pre-release marketing. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall Wonder Woman being pushed as a feminist film. Gal Gadot certainly didn’t politicize the press tour. The film quite simply introduced us to a strong female hero that didn’t dwell on her peers telling her she cant do this or that. She rolls her eyes and puts on the trench coat to cover her armored body. She hears the entrenched soldiers saying they can’t push forward, and picks up her shield, climbs the ladder and says “Follow me!” She just did it.

DC didn’t push the film as an empowerment story for women in the way that Marvel did with Captain Marvel. They both ultimately present that theme successfully. But one alienated a large portion — possibly a majority — of the fan-base. The other didn’t. That only hurts the film early on, because, again, I am a part of that portion of the fan-base that was targeted and putt-off, and I ended up enjoying the movie.

My Captain Marvel Movie Grade

On a 1-10 scale, I’d give Captain Marvel an 8/10 or a B grade.

captain marvel
Captain Marvel herself.

Much of Brie Larson’s acting just seemed stiff and un-involved. Some of this could be the idea that she’s on an unknown, forgotten world, and as an alien she doesn’t know how to behave around humans. But that idea slips away with her relative comfort working with Fury, where she still seems like she has a board strapped to her back. (Maybe its the costume? But no; she’s in normal human clothes for a lot of this bit.)

Overall, I’d say this movie is worth a theatrical viewing. Boycotting a box office ticket for it because of the recent politics is only keeping you from adding to the Avengers canon. The movie isn’t blatantly political or anti-white male. I might go see it in theater again, in a few weeks, when the theater isn’t packed with other people…before Endgame.

Christopher Estrada: “Take a look at my first e-book An Abducted Date. The book is available for free in all e-book formats. So anyone using a Kindle, Ipad, Tablet, Sony Reader, Nook, or Kobo e-reading device can enjoy. Also available as PDF format for reading on a computer! Read and Review!”

Movie Review – Captain Marvel – A Pretty Good Origin Story

Movie Review – Avengers Infinity War – An Unrivaled Marvel Epic

A Slightly More Than Casual Fan’s Reaction to Avenger 4 Trailer 1

Avengers 4 Endgame – First Trailer Review

Movie Review – Captain Marvel – A Pretty Good Origin Story

Movie Review - Captain MarvelI’ve seen Captain Marvel twice now, and can honestly say I enjoyed it more the second time around. With my initial impressions I gave the movie a B. I’m bumping it up to a B+ now.

As a big Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, I think the most useful rating is to place it along with all the other 20+ MCU movies. Personally, I don’t dislike any of the movies, so the worst ones are still decent. But there are clearly the best of the best, the really good ones, and just good groupings.

In no particular order, I’d say the best of the MCU best are:

Avengers (the first one), Infinity War, GotG, GotG2, Thor: Ragnarok, Civil War, and Age of Ultron.

You’ll notice that all of these are ensemble movies, and none of them are an origin story, unless you consider that the first Avengers movie is a quasi-origin story for the ensemble.

When I look over that list, I can’t say that Captain Marvel can bump any of the top tier of MCU movies out, but it’s close…very close.

How Was Brie Larson as Captain Marvel?

I think Brie Larson did an adequate job with her character, but it’s going to take time to see if she can really “own” the role of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. However, the action scenes lacked a certain physical presence I think the role requires. Personally, I wish they had chosen Blake Lively for the role. She has the snarkiness — and definitely the physical presence —  to express Captain Marvel. I hope in time Brie can show us she was the right choice, but for now, I think the jury is still out. Let’s see how she measures up when she’s grouped with the other Avengers going forward.

The humor in Captain Marvel is good. It’s nothing like either of the Guardians movies, or Ragnarok, but there are still plenty of good laughs to be had.

I love the way the story gives us not only Captain Marvel’s origin, but also Fury’s. That was deftly handled.

What I liked most about the movie was the theme of the story. Which I can’t really get into without mentioning spoilers, which follow below.

Captain Marvel Spoilers Ahead – You Are Warned

Without coming across as preachy, the story deftly explores how important it is to always question one’s allegiances.

Early in the movie Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) says, “Know your enemy. It might just be you.” We later learn the statement is literally true, when Marvel discovers she’s fighting on the wrong side of an unjust war.

There is a scene early in the movie that foreshadows Marvel’s change of allegiance, when Agent Coulson lowers his weapon and allows Fury and Marvel to escape. That not only sets the stage for putting Coulson on Fury’s map as his “one good eye” (a line from the original Avengers) but in a conversation shortly after that, Fury tells Marvel that what Coulson did –listening to his gut — is a hard thing to do, but that’s what makes us human.

MCU movies have also explored this idea with Captain America. He starts out as the dedicated patriot, and evolves into a fugitive from the very same authority that created him.

I personally find it ironic that society/authority/governments continually preach loyalty and patriotism. Essentially encouraging citizens to offer robotic support, while the computers we create are becoming more adept at questioning, understanding, and adapting. What makes us human — humanity — may soon be the purview of our creations.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: Overall, all 3 Peetimes are pretty good. I would recommend the 1st Peetime over the others. It’s very easy to get caught up on what happened. The 3rd Peetime is almost as good, but includes a little humor. The 2nd Peetime is almost all dialog so it has a longer than average synopsis.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Captain Marvel. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero,

The Four Films You Need To Watch To Understand Captain Marvel (Speculation, Pre-Movie Release)

gregg clarke as agent coulson in captain marvel
A digitally de-aged Agent Coulson. They de-aged Nick Fury too. Can they do this for me?

Right, I know, Captain Marvel hasn’t come out yet — but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest a few films you should watch to understand what the deal is with Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, and the state of the MCU. If you’re not a rabid Marvel fan, or just need a refresher, you can get ready with just four MCU films. (Or three films and two short videos, if you’re short on time.)

In a real way, audiences are lucky with Captain Marvel — it’s a relatively painless entry point for an MCU movie.

By this, I mean you don’t need to sit down this week and watch the 20+ movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Captain Marvel (the film) goes back in time to the 90s, making it essentially the chronologically first film in the Avenger timeline. (Ignore for now that Captain America – The First Avenger started around World War 2…)

So, you’re off the hook for this film in a way you CAN’T be for the spring 2019 release of Avengers 4 – End Game. End Game will require audiences to be on their toes and completely up to date. As the title suggests, it’s the culmination of a long ranging plan. Ten years of movies! And it will be over three hours long, so you’ll need our Peetimes for it.

For Captain Marvel, these are my guesses to understand the events we’re about to see (links go to RunPee’s movie reviews):

  1. Avengers 1 – Avengers Assemble – This movie best establishes the characters of Nick Fury and Agent Phil Coulson, who should have major roles in the Captain Marvel story. Also, this movie is a great entry point to explain who the Avengers are without having to watch every individual origin story. And there’s this: where was Captain Marvel during the Battle of New York? I’m hoping the upcoming film explains why Fury didn’t see fit contact her then, or ever, until Infinity War.
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1 – You need to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 1 to understand the cosmic end of the Marvel universe, see who the Kree  are, what Xandar is about, and get a proper introduction to Ronan The Accuser. Of all the movies on this list, GOTG 1 is probably the most crucial to view. Fortunately, this kick-ass film is always a crowd-pleaser.
  3. Avengers 3 – Infinity War – Why does Fury carry that pager around for decades and only use it now? This is the only story that refers to Captain Marvel explicitly. We still don’t know how she fits in. I’m going to warn you: Infinity War is a HUGE film, with its own list of must-preview movies. I dithered about putting this on the list, to be honest. If you’re a complete novice to the MCU, I recommend you skip it. You’d be hopelessly lost. Just watch the end credit scene, provided here (a MUST):
  4. Ant-Man & The Wasp – This one contains the most speculation on my part. Will Ant Man and crew even show up in Captain Marvel? Probably not. But since Time Vortices are mentioned, and the Quantum Realm might play a role in Captain Marvel’s story, this might be worth watching. It’s still on Netflix, so grab it while you can (before Disney pulls all the Marvel films off onto their own subscription streaming channel). Captain Marvel is supposed to have time travel in it. If you can’t get your hands on the Time Stone, the Quantum Realm is the next best place place to look, and only the guys in Ant-Man know about it. So far.

I also have another movie in mind worth viewing, but mentioning it would be a complete spoiler if the rumors are true. This particular superhero is covered in Infinity War anyway, so it’s fine to skip it. I think. (Remember, this is a speculation article.)

UPDATE after seeing Captain Marvel: I was thinking above that the Dr. Strange movie would be a part of the Captain Marvel story. It wasn’t. But it’s one of the Marvel films that has time travel as a major component…so it’s possible that Strange and Marvel get together to save the day in Avengers – Endgame. Actually, who are we kidding? Let’s just say it’s going to happen. 

Update: Watch a Short MCU Video About Agent Phil Coulson for Free, Now

  • A Funny Thing Happened…I found a handful of super short Marvel Cinematic Universe one-offs this week, and sat down to watch them all. It didn’t take long, and they don’t offer many hints on the MCU, to be honest. But there’s one you MUST see before Captain Marvel if you don’t know much about the main characters. Watch these few fun minutes of Agent Phil Coulson in his Thor years, in a short called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer: 

After Captain Marvel comes out, we can see how close my guesses are. What do you think?

Coming Soon – Peetimes for Captain Marvel

Quiz – Brie Larson – The New Captain Marvel and Beyond

1st Captain Marvel Trailer Finally Drops – Comments and Speculation

The Quantum Realm in Ant-Man 2 Offers Answers for Avengers 4

10 Ways Ant Man Could Escape the Quantum Realm

Why You Need to Care About Carol Danvers – Captain Marvel Facts and Film Updates

brie larson as captain marvel for the mcu
Who is this young woman, and how can she possibly fight Thanos?

Have you noticed the Captain Marvel trailers dropping for the upcoming March 8, 2019 film, set within the (admittedly large and dense) Marvel Cinematic Universe? There’s a lot of speculation on who exactly Ms. Marvel is, how she’s going to fit into the Avengers ongoing storyline, why the movie will be set in the past, and what we need to know before we see the flick. Rest assured, you don’t need to catch up on years of Captain Marvel comic books to follow along — we’ll tell you the few things we think will help get you up to speed.

There are some slight spoilers here, but nothing to fret over if you’ve seen the trailers at all. (Skip this post if you want to be completely in the dark.)

RunPee writer Golden Man, of the Oscar-awards oriented blog Etched In Gold, lists these cool details to help you better understand Carol Danvers (AKA Captain Marvel):

— In the comic books, Carol Danvers was known as Ms. Marvel, until taking over the mantle of Captain Marvel in 2012.

— The movie draws inspiration from the 1970s comic storyline The Kree-Skrull War.

— Skrulls are the villains in the movie. They have the ability to simulate other people (like the old lady on the train in the trailer).

— There are rumors this movie will plant the seeds for a future film based on the 2008 Secret Invasion storyline, where Skrulls impersonated many famous characters from the Marvel universe.

— The movie is set in the late ’90s. This basically makes it a prequel to the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

— In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Samuel L. Jackson confirmed we will find out what happened to Nick Fury’s eye in this movie.

— A young Agent Coulson appears in the movie. (That is Clark Gregg taking off his sunglasses in the latest trailer.)

— This movie makes the first time Marvel Studios has used de-aging effects on actors for an entire film (for Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg).

— Lee Pace’s character Ronan the Accuser (who menaced the Guardians of the Galaxy in Volume 1) will reappear in this movie.

— Lashana Lynch plays Maria Rambeaux. In the comics, her daughter Monica also takes on the mantle of Captain Marvel at some point. (She is also known by other superhero names.)

— Captain Marvel is confirmed to be appearing in Avengers: Endgame.

— While a sequel is likely, Marvel is remaining super secretive about Phase Four and no movies have been officially announced beyond Spiderman: Far From Home.

Here’s the first Captain Marvel trailer to get you started. It’s less than two minutes long, but packed with great (albeit lightning-quick) details  — things you’ll understand better after reading our tips:

1st Captain Marvel Trailer Finally Drops – Comments and Speculation

Avengers 4 Endgame – First Trailer Review

A Slightly More Than Casual Fan’s Reaction to Avenger 4 Trailer 1

The 5 Movies You Need To Watch Before Infinity War

Movie Review – Guardians Of The Galaxy – The Marvel Movie that Changed Everything


Bio: Golden Man loves comedies, romantic films, superhero movies, and awards bait. He blogs about the Oscar race all year long at Etched In Gold.

About the End Credits Scenes in Ant Man & The Wasp

First off, it’s a Marvel movie, okay? You simply may not leave your seat until the lights come up. In this case, Ant Man and the Wasp is no different. Make your friends — and even strangers — “hold onto their butts.” (Ten points to Gryffindor if you remember where that quote is from.)

Spoilers for Infinity War and Ant Man & The Wasp ahead!

[pullquote]Some extra scenes/tags/stingers are fluffy fun, some add to the plot, and some hint at what’s to come. Some tease you in a sort of parody way, or just send you off with a little laugh. We’ve got a fine stew of all that in Ant Man 2, the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[/pullquote]

My advice: don’t leave until the bitter end.

As the credits roll, for two minutes we see scenes from Ant Man and the Wasp as miniature models, highlights from the film. There are posed dolls; there are miniatures sets; it’s nice and all. Since this bit of Title Credits begins exactly as the movie ends, we don’t call this kind of thing an extra. It’s neat to see, though, with some good music to enjoy while you wait for the big anticipated mid-credits scene.

Some background first : Ant Man and The Wasp takes place roughly before/during/around the momentous events of Avengers: Infinity War.  Maybe most of their timelime happens during Thor: Ragnarok, which leads directly into Infinity War. 

Seriously awful things happen in the last 20 minutes of IW. I saw it five times in the theater and still bawled like a baby. Peter Parker and Teen Groot destroyed me.

So when I say that I and the audience GASPED out loud in the crucial mid-credits scene of Ant Man 2, I mean it viscerally. It was a gut-punch that surprised us all. It was almost (ALMOST) worse than what happened in Infinity War. This reminder hurt.

[pullquote position=”right”]It’s not like the Ant Man crew are my favorite superheros, and while I’d hoped  this ‘small stakes’ lighthearted film would connect to the larger MCU, I was, by the end of the movie, lulled into a sense of contentment.[/pullquote] By then, I’d totally forgotten about The Snap. As the directors surely planned. When The Snap returned, during the mid-credits, making ash of Hank, Hope and the newly-freed Janet — simultaneously stranding Scott Lang in the Quantum Realm — I actually yelped in the theater. A huge audience “Nooooooo!” showed I wasn’t the only one lulled into complacency.

And that is exactly what the Marvel studios bank on. Light, fun  movie? Check. Awful last minute universe continuity meant to shock the audience — double check.

So, Scott is left alone in the Quantum Realm (to be fair, Luis, Bill Foster or even Ghost could retrieve him, and maybe he was immune to The Snap by being out of space and time…theories abound), but that doesn’t take the power of the moment away when Hope, Hank, and Janet disappear. Mic drop. End scene.

If you wait for the final, post credit extra, you’re treated to a hint of the world status, Post Snap. Streets are empty, while sirens sound in the distance. We pan through Scott’s empty house, in several rooms, see the TV switch over to the Emergency Broadcast System…and finally land on one of Scott’s giant ants playing his drums. Dire as things are, it’s still an Ant Man movie, providing a grace of comic relief, after the brutal reminder of the state of the universe.

The final nail in the coffin swiftly follows, when the screen fades to black and we see the title card: Ant Man and The Wasp Will Return.

Then a beat passes.

And a question mark pops up, to show: “Ant Man and The Wasp Will Return?”

Nice. Ambiguity.

Then lights come up and you’re left feeling like you saw a cutely made, well-done late phase MCU film: a rollicking good time with refreshingly small stakes (sans the very end).

So, now what?

My theory is that people we didn’t see dissolve are still with us. So, Luis is still in the front of the van. Bill Foster and his Ghost ward know how to operate the Quantum Tunnel. Getting Scott out may be a simple affair, and his knowledge of the Quantum Realm might hold the key to undoing Thanos’ damage.

It’s a long wait til 2019’s March release of Captain Marvel and the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4, due later that summer.

[pullquote]I do have a burning question: How did Hank Pym and family not know Earth was under attack by massive waves of alien monsters in Wakanda? You’d think this wouldn’t be the time for starting a risky new quantum experiment. Personally, I’d be glued to the news of world events.[/pullquote]

And for that matter, in Infinity War, how did Nick Fury, of all people, not realize his planet was in a serious state of war? Shouldn’t he be dialed in to everything the Avengers say or do, at all times? Running around panicking in NYC, he seemed strangely out of the loop.

Here’s the Mid Credit Scene from Ant Man and The Wasp, mixed in with the real-time last moment of Avengers: Infinity War. (2.3 minutes long.) You might need a tissue.

Coda. Final Scene:

What do you think happens with Scott, the Quantum Realm, and the Post-World Snap?