Captain Marvel is the formulaic and quintessential CGI-heavy Marvel movie. Even as an origin story, it doesn’t attempt to be any different than the ten or so other origin stories before it, striding well within the safety zone, avoiding any offensive tripwires. On the surface, it’s a fun romp with enough action, adventure, and visuals to delight the MCU fans. Deeper down, it’s a two-hour story about flying higher, further, faster when things get tough. It might not have the same effect on everyone, but it does bring hope and joy to the fans of the source material, as well as people without a hero of their own. Captain Marvel creates a strong role model, and gets the nod of approval from fans as it brings everything that Carol Danvers encompasses into movie form.
There’s this belief out there that comic book movies need to deconstruct the characters to reach a wider audience. Apparently, changing important parts of said characters’ rich histories will make them more relatable, easier to digest. It’s true that not everyone has the encyclopedic knowledge of every Marvel character that has ever been written, but that doesn’t mean they need to be changed. There’s a simple solution to this non-existent obstacle: the filmmakers simply need to portray the source material as they are originally written. Compact the origin story, remove anything that may be deemed a little too far-fetched, and adapt to it to more modern times. Luckily, the film had Kelly Sue DeConnick’s successful reboot to use as a basis, and even used her as a consultant.
Here’s a secret for those who haven’t read many superhero comics: comics typically return to the status quo, and any major changes coincide with major cultural and social landmarks. No matter how many times Captain Marvel faces the Kree, the Skrulls, or another threat, she will always return to her warrior hero. Long-time fans know that status quo is everything in comics, but it doesn’t take away from their enjoyment. The Marvel movies do the same, because they know the formula works, and are able to keep the fans that aren’t looking for anything more than something fun. Remember that Iron Man released twelve years ago; adults might see Captain Marvel as formulaic, but more recent fans inducted into the Marvel world will see something brand new. They see Captain Marvel as their first hero, not a rehashing of an existing story.
Not every movie needs to be for everyone, but everyone needs a movie. When Carol Danvers became the new Captain Marvel, the readership changed. It attracted a bigger female audience, giving the world a strong heroine who wasn’t a composite of bad 80s and 90s clichés. Kelly Sue DeConnick gave a disenfranchised group a hero to lean on and believe in. There are enough male-dominated comics and movies in the world to fill a library; if one of them doesn’t entertain, the one next on the shelf could probably fill that void. It’s not the same for female heroes. Their comics are far a few in between, and only recently are they starting to become more popular.
It’s been more than a decade of movies starring heroes who are part of the demographics of 18-30-year-old men. If Doctor Strange didn’t do it for you, then there’s always Iron Man, or Ant-Man, or Captain America. Black Widow and Okoye are incredibly popular, but are lacking a franchise of their own — even in the Avengers films they play supporting characters — so it’s about time that a heroine starred in her own feature. Captain Marvel needed to be made so that newer audiences can look up at her with wide-eyed wonder, and believe that they have a badass hero to represent them.
Every hero in the Marvel Universe represents a different aspect of the self. Captain Marvel emphasizes girl power as much as Captain America emphasizes fighting bullies, as Iron Man emphasizes humility. It doesn’t matter if it the new movie is slightly formulaic, nor does it matter that it doesn’t speak to everyone on the same level, because it speaks to people who are looking for some inspiration and hope. It needs to speak to the right people — the fans — and for everyone who feels that they are being held back. Captain Marvel accomplishes what it wants to do, even if it plays it safe. She is a refreshing take on the superhero genre, and though her movie might not be as down-to-earth as the others, it still holds strong.