How Captain Marvel Is Being Positioned as the Future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
If the online response is any indication, any perceived box office hurdles won’t stand a chance against Captain Marvel’s photon blasts, as Marvel Studios on Monday night not only released several new posters for Captain Marvel, but also a new extended look and a behind-the-scenes featurette. The 21st entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, has already released two trailers — the first a teaser in September and the second one in December highlighting the mystery of a character who, for many general audiences, remains an unknown entity. The new footage, while brief, does offer new glimpses at the film’s supporting characters, but the highlight is how it presents Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers.
If there was one repeated complaint to be found concerning the previous trailers for Captain Marvel, it was that they didn’t really give us any indication of Carol’s personality. No, we’re not giving any credence to the absurd idea that she should have smiled more. But there is something to be said about the character’s presentation as stoic, perhaps to a fault. We were given a sense of Captain Marvel’s power-set, along with questions about her identity, but no real sense of who she is as a person other than a hero. Previous trailers, while keeping Captain Marvel at the forefront, hinged on the bigger picture, the Kree-Skrull War and the cosmic mythology on which Marvel Studios plans to rest a great deal of its future. But this latest trailer, while the shortest, has arguably done the best in terms of selling the movie to both comic fans and newcomers.
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Our latest look at Captain Marvel gets right to the point of the character, while zeroing in on what made comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run on the character, which serves as the pic’s primary influence, so beloved: Carol Danvers enjoys her powers. Female action heroes getting a chance to relish in their skill sets is not something we get to see often enough. Granted, there haven’t been many female-led superhero films, but it’s so often been the case that kick-ass women are presented as down to business, their humor played against type and for the pleasure of the audience rather than from a place of character. From Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft to Resident Evil’s Alice to Underworld’s Selene, these are women who are good at what they do in order to complete a task, and while we may marvel at their abilities, they rarely, if ever, do. Even within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, characters like Black Widow and Scarlet Witch are weighed down by their skills and powers — it’s baggage. While the Wasp certainly enjoys having powers, she is still presented as efficient and business-like, often a counterpoint to the boys having all the fun and laughs. Wonder Woman and Black Panther, while certainly not the first films to do so, both presented alternatives to Hollywood’s use of the “Strong Female Character” as a character type, by exploring who they are as people, with multitudes, the same courtesy afforded to so many male heroes over the years. It’s not a novel idea, but as superhero movies branch out and become more inclusive, those movies clearly serve as strong examples.
What works so well about the latest Captain Marvel trailer is that we get to see her banter with Fury, make jokes, get knocked down and be a bit of a wise-ass. And it’s not due to some antiquated idea that female superheroes need to check off certain boxes, but because it’s using the specific traits DeConnick brought out in the character. Simply put, this trailer allows Carol Danvers to be Carol Danvers. Even if this new footage hits those character marks only briefly, it’s still enough to increase anticipation and let audiences in on the secret of who she is — not as a mystery box, but as a person. It’s this factor that’s going to set the character apart from the other superheroes in the MCU. We’ve seen cool powers before, but Danvers' personality is as unique as Tony Stark’s, Steve Rogers’ or Peter Quill’s, and that’s the key to establishing her at forefront of the MCU going forward.
Last September, Larson had this to say about the character: “She’s aggressive and brash, impulsive and hotheaded. She’s the first one to rush into battle, and she doesn’t always wait for orders. She tells bad jokes.” The actress’ take on the character is similar to what DeConnick said about Carol Danvers to The Daily Beast in 2015: “She has a sense of humor, she can be funny, she can even be goofy, in the way Carol can. Like, Carol’s sense of humor is terrible. It’s all dad jokes, you know?” Just a few months ago, the first trailer ended with the tagline, “Discover what makes her a hero,” and while we were certainly onboard with Captain Marvel before, we’re just now starting to get a sense of what makes her so unique — not her alien powers, but her beautifully flawed human qualities.
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