Here’s really personal, not bologna talk about why I think pop culture matters. This week I really needed the kind of movie that makes you pump your fists. That makes you feel powerful. That makes you feel like you can do anything. Strong female lead things tend to do exactly that for me, so I found it extremely fortuitous this weekend was the opening weekend of Marvel’s latest cinematic entry: Captain Marvel. The title character is a female superhero who can fly through space and punch through things even The Hulk couldn’t smash. Admittedly, Captain Marvel isn’t the best MCU movie yet, but it's still a darn good time and a welcome addition to the superhero party.
The movie tried to do a little too much in its short time, a common issue with origin stories, but in spite of this the message is clear. We all get knocked down; don’t stop getting back up. I don’t know about you, but that’s something I have to remind myself. And just like Carol Danvers, sometimes I need other people to point me in that direction.
The strongest aspect of the movie is the friendships. I personally would be very down for some kind of Carol Danvers and Nick Fury short run, buddy cop style series for the Disney streaming service that should show up later this year (I know you're listening Marvel Decision Makers so let’s get on that). Their back and forth and quick understanding of each other in spite of Fury’s initially belief that she was a crazy person, is the kind of platonic male-female friendship I’d love to see more of on screen.
Captain Marvel’s best friend Monica Rambeau is another great character, and while their friendship doesn't land as well as Carol and Fury’s does, based purely on screen time, it’s just as central to helping Carol see who she truly is. It’s their kinship that helps trigger not just Carol’s memories, but her true, forgotten self.
It’s after meeting these people she has the strength to disobey orders, protocol, and tradition to do the right thing. To let go of her preconceptions and prejudices, and to be the hero she was always supposed to be. Carol’s big “Get Back Up” moment happens when she’s on her own, but the leg work to get her there happened in Louisiana hanging out with Fury and her friend Monica. Which is maybe what I like the most about Captain Marvel. It works best as a piece of the great MCU puzzle rather than purely on its own. But the film Captain Marvel working best as a piece in a larger story doesn’t mean it isn’t strong, just like Carol Danvers needing others to help unlock her true self doesn’t mean she wasn’t always meant to fly “Higher. Further. Faster.”
Strange Perspective is a weekly look at all things pop culture by columnist Rachel Strange.