It’s been two weeks since Captain Marvel hit theaters. In terms of nerds talking online about superhero movies, two weeks translates to about the time it takes for a star to be born and eventually collapse. If you still read Captain Marvel reviews at this point, I think you’re ready for some solid spoiler talk. Here’s a spoiler alert, anyway. You can always check out Ryan’s relatively spoiler-free review here.
Okay, Captain Marvel spoilers launch in 3… 2… 1…
Because people online are babies, unfortunately, the “big spoiler” in Captain Marvel turned out to be that a cat scratches out Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) eye out. Seriously. In a movie that introduces a tentpole character going forward in the biggest franchise ever, a fun little Easter egg pissed off a surprising amount of people for no other reason than, well, being just a fun little Easter egg. Apparently, Captain Marvel seriously underestimated how much fans wanted to see Fury lose his eyeball in deadly serious, epic battle. Instead, they got a cat.
This is a typical case of comic book fans taking superhero movies more seriously than superhero movies take themselves. It ties into a bigger complaint that Captain Marvel didn’t feel like a serious Fury origin story—which I loved. All I wanted to see was young Fury in action. A character like him works so much better with a murky origin, and Captain Marvel did a great job of showing us young Fury without overexplaining him. I don’t want deep backstory about his eyepatch. A cat gag works well enough.
Fans also complain that Mar-Vell is Annette Bening, and not a dude. Sorry, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this because all the people whining are liars. No one cares about Mar-Vell. Nobody! I know this because when I go into comic book shops or nerd collectibles stores, no one buys Mar-Vell stuff. No Mar-Vell coffee mugs or Funko Pops anywhere.
However, critics of the gender swap don’t seem nearly as upset as folks mad about Captain Marvel’s version of Skrulls. For some nerdy context, fans can’t believe it took Marvel this long to work Skrulls into a movie. They’re Marvel comics’ favorite shapeshifting alien invaders. We eventually find out they’re not invaders, at all, but refugees of genocide. This revelation killed Captain Marvel for many diehard fans. Skrulls are supposed to be the ultimate Marvel baddies. They’re sole purpose is to get punched in the face by Avengers, not have feelings or character arcs!
Skrull complaints are the latest in a long line of criticisms by folks who perceive Marvel has a “villain problem.” I kind of agree Marvel has weak-ish villains, but I also remember a time when superhero movies were more about villains than the good guys (ie, The Dark Knight is the Joker’s movie), and I’m glad Marvel doesn’t do that. There’s a sizeable chunk of nerds who still won’t forgive Marvel for reimagining Iron Man’s arch nemesis as a bumbling phony in Iron Man 3, so painting Skrulls as victims feels like yet another betrayal. I expected nothing from Skrulls in Captain Marvel. Now, they’re really the only alien race in Marvel movies I hope we see again. I’m amazed how much I cared about Skrulls, and I can understand the switch. “Secret invasions by planet-hopping shapeshifters” is a signature sci-fi story that Captain Marvel realizes is a subtly anti-immigrant, anti-refugee trope. Remixing Skrulls to be refugees is a clever way to reconcile their origins.
The last spoiler I’ll talk about before I get out of your hair is the end credits scene. Every nerd on the planet knew going into Captain Marvel that it would tie into the next Avengers movie. If you somehow you saw Captain Marvel before last summer’s Avenger: Infinity War, then I don’t even care if I ruin the ending for you: 50% of the universe dies, including half the Avengers. Next month’s Avengers: Endgame is all about the battle to save the characters Marvel’s pretending are dead, and Captain Marvel’s end credits stinger confirms that she’ll meet the living ones. As frustrated as I was by the false stakes of Infinity War’s ending last year, I have to admit I love the soap opera of mourning all these characters who are definitely coming back. This was my favorite end credits scene since Nick Fury announced the Avengers way back in the first Iron Man. Plus, huge bonus points for Captain Marvel’s Endgame suit, which is the best costume since Black Panther’s. Gold shoulders are where it’s at.