Comics, Graphic Novel, Signal Boost

Movie Reviews: Captain Marvel and Shazam!

Hey all, Dani here.

I should probably start this post by saying that it is a great time to be a geek/nerd. There are just so many books, shows, and movies that appeal to what we like being released, and it makes me super happy.

So, today instead of talking about books, I want to talk about superhero movies. Okay, fine, I’ve read some of Marvel’s Captain Marvel graphic novels, and I’ll probably try some of DC’s Captain Marvel/Shazam! ones in the future. But I am only reviewing the films today. Let’s get started.

First of all, before I start talking about the movies themselves, I need to talk just a little bit about the history of both of these characters, because the character of Shazam! used to be called Captain Marvel when he was originally created and with his family they were the Marvel family of superheroes.

Billy Batson/Captain Marvel was created in 1939 and made his first appearance in 1940, published by Fawcett Comics. He was actually a pretty popular superhero back then, even outselling Superman, which I think is pretty cool. Fawcett stopped publishing Captain Marvel in the 50s, mostly due to some copyright infringement suits from DC on account of Captain Marvel being a “copy of Superman.” Eventually in the 70s, Fawcett sold Captain Marvel to DC.

In that time between Fawcett stopping the Captain Marvel comics and then selling the rights to DC, Marvel Comics started publishing their Captain Marvel comics in the 60s, and they trademarked the name. This led to some legal squabbling between Marvel and DC, leading to the end result of DC changing their Captain Marvel’s name to Shazam!, which is what the character says to transform from his juvenile alter ego into his adult superhero form.

Because of this interesting history, I definitely find it intriguing that both the MCU and the DCEU put out movies following Captain Marvel and Shazam! so close together.

Oh, and I should probably also say that if you have not yet seen these movies, you should probably skip the reviews below, because I cannot guarantee that they will be spoiler free. I just have too much gushing to do. So come back and read the rest of this post after you’ve seen them…or hey, read on if you don’t care about being spoiled.

All right, let’s do this.

Captain Marvel (MCU. Theater release date: March 8, 2019)

Rating: 5 stars (Dani) and 5 stars (Damian)

Firstly, I should mention that Damian and I saw this movie twice. Once on opening weekend, and then again a couple weeks later. Online I have seen so many people criticizing this film, especially Brie Larson’s lack of emotional range. I say that is utter bullshit. The whole beginning of the movie Vers was being told that she needed to fight with her head, not her heart, and that emotions could lead to deadly mistakes. With that happening, how can you criticize her for not showing all the emotions? Stop being a jerk fan.

Ahem, anyway, I thought that as she started to get more of her memories back, she did start to show more of her emotional side, but as has been seen in countless hero stories before, it is because of emotions, because of fighting for someone else, that a hero is able to overcome obstacles and win.

Oh, and it is also great that this movie takes place in the 90s, so I did get very nostalgic with some of the songs played, and the appearance of places like Blockbuster. It was also fantastic to see younger Nick Fury and younger Phil Coulson. I think they did a great job making both Samuel L Jackson and Clark Gregg look young again.

Also, can I just say that I liked getting to see Fury and Carol put in sort of a buddy cop sort of role as they tried to figure out this whole Skrull-Kree situation. We got to learn so much more about the man who created the Avengers Initiative to begin with. And the whole “buddy cop” bit added quite a bit of humor to the whole movie. Honestly, I can say this humor is probably needed with the upcoming release of “Avengers: Endgame.”

Captain Marvel is a wonderful addition to the lore of the MCU, even if they changed certain elements from the comics. Was it necessary to change Mar-Vell into a woman? No, probably not, but I don’t think it was a change that affected the actual story.

One of the best parts of this movie is Goose, a cat who was called Chewie in the comics. And okay, so Goose isn’t actually a cat, though that’s what he appears to be. He is actually an alien called a Flerken, and frankly, I want to learn a lot more about Flerkens. He has a set of tentacles that come out of his mouth and he can eat far more than you would expect. This is because his stomach is basically a pocket dimension.

I also enjoyed the plot, because you are led to believe that the Skrull are evil invaders and the Kree are these noble warriors trying to save the universe, but the longer the story progresses, the more you start to learn about all of it, not just because of encountering Skrull, but also because of Carol starting to remember more about the accident that took her memories. You start to see that the Kree are hiding their ambitions behind the guise of being valiant and noble protectors.

I think one of my absolute favorite parts is towards the end, when Carol finally starts to fully own her power. We watch several scenes from Carol’s past where she gets knocked down or falls, and it’s meant to make you (and her) think of all the times she’s failed. But the absolutely beautiful part of it is what happens after. Because it doesn’t matter how many times you fall. What matters is if you decide to stand back up. And that is exactly what young Carol does. Over and over again we watch as she stands up after a fall, looking even more determined than ever. And that was just a badass moment for me.

We also see that the Avengers Initiative was going to be called something entirely different, until Fury looked at a photo of Captain Carol “Avenger” Danvers climbing into the cockpit. The fact that her pilot name was Avenger is an awesome one. I love how each film just adds to the lore of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Shazam! (DCEU. Theater release date: April 5, 2019)

Rating: 5 stars (Dani) and 5 stars (Damian)

We’ve only seen this one in theaters once, but I do kinda want to go see it again. On a pure enjoyment side of things, I think both Damian and I enjoyed this movie better. I legitimately have said multiple times that this is my favorite of the DCEU movies to date–with Aquaman at a close 2nd place.

This movie was utterly hilarious! They did such a good job with casting, especially since they needed to cast a young adult and adult version of many of the cast members. Both Asher Angel and Zachary Levi did spectacular as Billy Batson/Shazam! I could totally believe that they were the same person. Speaking of, I don’t think they could have more perfectly cast Shazam! I have been a huge fan of Zachary Levi since his days of being on the show “Chuck” and I thought he was fantastic in that show, so to see him get to be a superhero was awesome.

I very much enjoyed that this movie explores family, and that sometimes family isn’t determined by blood, but instead by those you choose. Billy’s foster family was so loving and rambunctious and lively. It was so cool to watch, and I think we need to see move movies and shows and books with families like this in them.

Speaking of family, there was also Billy’s foster brother, Freddy, and all the scenes of him trying to help Shazam! figure out what his powers and capabilities are. That would also probably also be my only real complaint about this film. So so much of it was Shazam! kind of goofing off, figuring out powers, and not really doing the whole saving people and all of that. Which means that he is still woefully unprepared when the main villain of the movie drags him into the final fight. At the same time, I guess it is cool that we get more than just a training montage; it is more of a whole film of figuring things out. This is especially true since Billy Batson is only 14, so his morality and his inner fortitude aren’t on the same level as adult superheroes.

Oh, and I definitely enjoyed that we saw glimpses of merchandise for Superman, Batman, Aquaman, etc. It definitely solidifies that this movie is part of the same universe, and I look forward to possibly seeing Shazam! and the rest of his family–though I don’t know what they’re going to call them since they probably can’t be called the Marvel family–in future Shazam! films as well as maybe even big team up movies like Justice League.

All right, well I guess that’s all my commentary on these two superhero movies. If you enjoy this sort of post from me, let me know, and I’ll continue to share my geeky thoughts and opinions on future films.

I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

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