Saturday, March 16, 2019

Captain Marvel, the greatest Mary Sue ever? And a little bit racist?

As I hope my previous post made clear, I liked the movie and will probably see it again.

But, dear God, is the character a Mary Sue.

1. She's retconned as one of the most powerful characters in the universe. (Yes, it is a problem that Fury never called her before, though a later writer can always say he did and she was too busy to take the call.)

2. She is so important that she gave the Avengers their name. (Why she was called Carol "the Avenger" Danvers, we haven't a clue, because we never saw her do anything that would inspire anyone to call her the Avenger.)

3. She immediately becomes Nick Fury's pal. (She and Fury are shown laughing together in scenes that seemed wrong to me. If I'd been directing, I would've told the actors to play the scenes more subtly.)

4. She doesn't seem to have any lovers in her past. (Perhaps because she's too amazing for any ordinary boy or girlfriend.)

5. Everything we know about her past is about things she did for herself instead of anyone else. We are supposed to believe she was a great friend because her cool black friend says she was, but we have no idea what she ever did that made her a great friend.

6. She gets her abilities not because she earned them like Wonder Woman or Batman or deserved them like Green Lantern or Captain America, but because she's the one who's standing there when the experimental power source explodes—and unlike many of the characters who have a similar origin, she wasn't even responsible for creating the thing that transformed her. She simply gets awesome powers because the writers wanted to write about someone with awesome powers.

As for how her story is a tiny bit racist, her awesomeness is established with the testimony of Nick Fury and Maria Rambeau—she's so cool, black people look up to her.

Okay, that all sounds like I didn't like the movie. I did. But I really hope the next Avengers movie manages to make her less of a Mary Sue.

ETA: Extra point on the little bit racist: Marvel had a black female Captain Marvel for a few years, but they sidelined her in favor of the white woman.


  1. Marvel Sue. I've only yet seen trailers, but something about Larson makes her seem false as a superhero. Her body language just doesn't convey inner strength, rather she comes off as literally a poser. Compare this to Scarlett Johannson's similar bit as Black Widow, which I find convincing even though I'm aware that a lot of the work is being done by Scarlett's stunt double. My theory is that Larson's rather entitled and condescending offscreen personality is bleeding through the performance.

    1. I don't know why she's the worst actor in the movie, but she is. I've said before that I wanted an actor who would bring the edge of a Ripley or a Sarah Connor or a Captain Janeway to the part.

    2. She also looks vacuous in the new Avengers trailer, but maybe her bit will work better in context. It's not that she's awful. It's just that she's not particularly good in this part.

  2. I'm starting to think this will be the first MCU movie I won't bother to catch in a theater. So far, seeing more clips online is confirming my early impression. Just saw one where Larson, flying a plane, is trying to convey determination. What she does is basically wear the same blank face but with a "sassy black girl" side to side head shake - the same move she pulls during her famous "white dudes" clip. Odd choice. I didn't see "Room", so I can't say much about her Oscar performance, but I can't help noting that she got the award it for playing the victim of an abusive male. Maybe that's her wheelhouse.

  3. I can't recommend that you go out of your way to catch in a theater. Your impression of her acting won't improve when you do see it, but you'll probably think that the things around her make it a decent Marvel movie. But among its minor weaknesses is it doesn't do spectacle the way Black Panther or the Avengers movies do--the interstellar bits and the fight scenes are competent, but nothing more.

  4. There was a shit-ton of retcon.

    Monica Rambeau, was the original Captain Marvel. She later became Photon. And Monica wasn't even the first leader, woman or otherwise, of the Avengers, that was Ironman.

    Nor was Monica, never mind Carol, the first female lead. If I remember right, that was The Wasp who invited many female superheroes to join the otherwise 'boys club.'

    1. Yeah, MCU is its own world. I would've done more with the Wasp and the Widow and the Witch, then brought in Captain Marvel as someone new.

  5. Just heard a rumor/speculation about a team-up movie with Scarlett Johannson, Tessa Thompson, and Brie Larson. Ugh. Both Valkyrie and Capt. Marvel strike me as SJW cardboard characters, little girls playing dress-up and pretending to be tough-as-nails ass kickers. I don't know exactly how much is the writing and how much mis-casting, but I know I don't like it.

    Now a movie featuring Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and the Wasp on the other hand... please make that now. And while you're at it, can you throw in Angela Bassett as Storm? An all female MCU flick could be great fun, just not the SJW version.