You know, you’d think that the avalanche of Marvel origin stories we have experienced over the last decade would leave us with super hero fatigue at some point. But, you would be wrong, going by how many people throughout the entire world were willing to throw their money at Disney in the rush to see this year’s Endgame appetizer, Captain Marvel. I call it an appetizer, but I mean, the movie made over $1 billion so maybe that’s not really fair.
Anyway, this film set all the dorks a-chatterin’ as it tells the story of a kick-ass female super hero played by national treasure Brie Larson. Other than that, the film is pretty boilerplate Marvel stuff - but it’s entertaining boilerplate, and by giving Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury a real co-starring role it adds something new. Captain Marvel and Nick Fury play well off each other, and the 1990s setting is great for stimulating the old nostalgia bone while working in some pretty funny Blockbuster gags.
But really I just found this movie to be very personally edifying and enjoyable. It is, above all else, fun. And fun was what I needed when I watched it, as my wife was in another city and I had been cooped up in my house here in Yogyakarta for days on end smashing out sentences on the old word processor as I feverishly tried to complete my dissertation on economic growth in Indonesia, spending hours puzzling out how to construct an econometric model measuring the impact of certain variables on fixed capital formation.
I was slightly hung over from the night before, and the air was hot and dry, with golden sunlight filtering through the rice fields like a pillow of glory. It made me feel, I don’t know, nostalgic for home and for some small comforts. I ordered mac and cheese and a chicken wrap from the only Texas-style BBQ place in Central Java and as I tucked into some good old fashioned American hangover food, the experience of this film just washed over me and filled me with an almost indescribable joy.
It opens with these slick space opera scenes of a Kree special forces unit doing cool space shit, then suddenly we are back in the 1990s Los Angeles of my youth. Eating American food and watching old school LA celebrated in all its glory while shape shifting space aliens duke it out with Brie Larson and a de-aged Nick Fury (as Honest Trailers pointed out, the de-aging is seamless - except when Sam Jackson is running, fighting… or typing on a keyboard) was just the thing I needed. It was an almost elemental pleasure watching this film. It buoyed my spirits and energized me enough to finish my doctoral dissertation. The field of political economy may have been advanced ever so slightly thanks to Captain Marvel. I ask you, if that is not the mark of great filmmaking, then what are we even living for?