Captain Marvel represents several things for Marvel Studios and their audience. For one, it’s the first female-led film in their run of 22-films. Considering the absolute badasses which make up the current MCU – Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch, Gamora, Nebula, Valkyrie, and more – the fact that it took them nearly 10 years to get to this point is a touch frustrating. For two, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is being positioned as the new face for the MCU’s future as the culmination of Avengers: Endgame put the current Avengers roster into disarray. The biggest shift which Captain Marvel brings is a new focus on the cosmic, stretching past Earth to look beyond at different planets and races only hinted at in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. The potential for the upcoming Phase 4 of the MCU is staggering and what comes next can only be guessed at. Lucky for MCU fans, with the home release of Captain Marvel on digital May 28th and 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD June 11th, the chance to prolong the highs of Phase 3 remains a possibility.
If you’re looking for a straight spoiler-free review of Captain Marvel, I recommend heading to my first Captain Marvel review on CLTure or my extended review on EoM because this one is going to spill some beans as we explore the design and contents of the special features for the home release.
Still with us? Let’s do this.
First, for those not in the know already, Captain Marvel focuses on Carol Danvers (Larson), an intergalactic warrior hero fighting alongside members of an elite Kree fighting unit known as Star Force. Suffering from amnesia, Danvers, initially known only as Vers, only remembers the last six years of her life under the tutelage of unit leader Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and the guidance of the Kree Supreme Intelligence. After a botched rescue mission ends with Vers captured by a shape-shifting race called the Skrulls, the truth of who she is and where she comes from starts to rise to the surface. Ultimately, the script by co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and co-writer Geneva Robertson-Dworet is one of discovery and self-agency as Vers’s journey takes her down a path where everything she believed real is false and enemies are her true friends.
As far as stand-alone films within the MCU go, Captain Marvel is one of the stronger outings. It’s fun, peppy, contains a great soundtrack, and possesses a strong message of personal strength. Whatever issues appear on initial viewings tend to fade into the background on repeat watches thanks to the incredible chemistry between leads Larson, Samuel L. Jackson (returning as a younger Nick Fury), and Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One) as Skrull leader Talos, the fantastic ‘90s references that litter the film, and, of course, Goose the cat. If one wanted to get picky, the problems of Captain Marvel tend to stem from the lack of consistency in details. The use of No Doubt’s “Just A Girl” in a fight sequence is perfect as background for the fight, but the way it’s plugged into the film feels more superfluous than the inclusion of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” which plays over Vers’s showdown with the Supreme Intelligence. Both songs add depth to the emotion and tone of the sequence, however, the diegetic use of “Come As You Are” flows more naturally within the scene. Of course, “Come As You Are” was released in 1991, a year after Vers left Earth, so there’s no probable way she is familiar with the song (perhaps she had some run-ins with Terran junk traders) so it doesn’t make sense that she would be the one to use it in the sequence, but it works so perfectly that this detail is pretty forgivable. The charm of the film as a whole is what makes so many of the improbable references work, like the appearance of a Street Fighter II: The World Warrior arcade cabinet at Pancho’s bar during a flash back. The inclusion ticks the nostalgic boxes in audience’s minds fiercely, something the whole of Captain Marvel does wonderfully, even if the references are mostly idiosyncratic.
But doing things in a normal, standard fashion doesn’t really work for Captain Marvel and the special features revel in this fact. If you’re coming to the film via iTunes, you’re in for a special treat. Much like the official Captain Marvel website is outfitted in delightful ‘90s web fashion, the iTunes display matches. The main loading screen is designed like a computer desktop with Goose in a reclined pose. In true ‘90s website fashion, each of the menu options loading a page with a single film still tiled across the background. This hilarious tribute captures the undeniable excitement of ‘90s web design and culture, the time before people realized the Internet could also be a home for trolls. Granted, some menu pages are harder to read than others as the text can blur into the bright colors of the images, yet that somehow plays into the charm. If this nostalgic trip excites you, then iTunes is the way to go. Blu-ray and Vudu both offer a more traditional interface experience.
Something to be aware of beyond the interface as you decide on your purchase options, is what’s included. As is the norm now, there’s a minor difference between the full spectrum of special features and receiving just most of them. Unfortunately, the divide exists between the digital and physical formats. Blu-ray and DVD editions include two alternate movie options (one with an intro from the directors and one with full commentary), several featurettes offering background on the process of creating the film, thoughts on the characters from the actors, and a silly video providing some background on Reggie, the cat who primarily portrayed Goose in the film. There’re also several deleted scenes, all of which were deservedly removed from the film. Each are fun to watch in their own right – there’s one with an extra scene featuring Clark Gregg’s beloved Agent Coulson, as well as one where the audience can finally discover who Yon-Rogg sees when he visits the Supreme Intelligence (hint: it’s himself) – but their inclusion doesn’t add to the overall flow of the film. Watching them as standalones, though, doesn’t feel like a waste of time on the part of the audience or the production.
Two really interesting featurettes, however, are digital exclusives: “Journey into Visual Effects with Victoria Alonso” and “What Makes a Memory: Inside the ‘Mind Frack.'” In the first, meet a lesser-known name whose impact on the MCU dates back to Iron Man, Victoria Alonso, the woman who oversees multiple teams in post-production. What’s particularly fascinating is getting a few insights into the post-production process and how hard she and her team work to achieve as close to 100% integration of CG into the films. It’s this attention to detail which makes characters like Groot and Rocket appear as tangible as Dave Bautista playing Drax. The second featurette is guided by directors Boden and Fleck into some of the design and staging for the “Mind Frack” sequence. This scene remains a personal favorite for this reviewer so getting some background into the conception and execution is particularly fascinating. For example, this is the first sequence the directors storyboarded and sent for pre-vis – some of which is shown during the featurette – implying that the “Mind Frack” helped craft the overall tone of Captain Marvel. Considering the mind-bendingness which serves as the audiences’ first bit of background for Vers, the already alien vibe of the cosmic story takes on a delightfully ludicrous affect that resonates throughout the rest of the picture. Considering the story involves shape-shifting characters, why not embrace the weird.
In the case of “buyer beware,” one thing to be mindful of is the distinct shift in menu function between the physical and the digital. It’s not just that the physical home release is missing content from the digital, it’s that with the removal of some content, what is included isn’t where you expect it to be. This means that if you’re keen to watch Captain Marvel with the director intro but no commentary, simply make that selection from the menu. If you’re interested in the commentary with the film, however, you need to track that down under a different menu. The digital version is much more streamlined, keeping all three versions of the film, regular, with intro, and with commentary all in one place. So if you are planning to own different formats, be aware that the interface shifts and options are sometimes harder to find.
In the end, no matter what you think of Captain Marvel, even a weak MCU film is a damn entertaining time. This one just so happens to contain so many scene-stealing moments from its lead that the overall film feels weaker. That said, between Marvel and Larson’s brief inclusion in Endgame, the MCU appears to be in good hands. The character is honor-bound, understands that personal integrity matters, and that perception doesn’t always mean truth. Sounds like a certain star-spangled man audiences met in July of 2011. So until someone can offer evidence to the contrary, I’m ready to assemble.
Bonus Material (may vary by retailer):
Blu-ray & Digital:
Alternate Movie Versions
- Movie with Intro – An introduction by directors/screenwriters Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.
- Movie with Commentary – Commentary by directors/screenwriters Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.
- Becoming a Super Hero – Follow Brie Larson’s journey as she joins the MCU, and see what it takes to be a Marvel Super Hero in every sense of the word.
- Big Hero Moment – Explore how impactful Captain Marvel’s entrance into the MCU is, and how she inspires audiences around the world.
- The Origin of Nick Fury – Witness some of the MCU’s most significant events through Nick Fury’s eyes, and see how his influence helped shape the MCU.
- The Dream Team – Discover why Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck are the perfect pair to direct Marvel Studios’ most powerful hero.
- The Skrulls and the Kree – Take a deeper look into the Skrulls and the Kree, their ongoing conflict, and the importance of shifting perspectives in the film.
- Hiss-sterical Cat-titude – The cast and crew dish on working with Goose and the raw talent it takes to portray such a complex character on-screen.
- “Who Do You Admire Above All Others?” – Kree Commander Yon-Rogg must answer to the Supreme Intelligence, who questions his leadership ability.
- Starforce Recruits – Yon-Rogg lectures a roomful of students on the Kree’s mission to defend all nations from the scourge of the Skrulls.
- Heading to Torfa – Vers (Danvers) and her fellow Starforce members banter as they prepare for their rescue mission to Torfa.
- “What, No Smile?” – In this alternate version of a scene from the movie, Vers is consulting a map when she receives a dubious offer of assistance.
- Black Box – Keller attempts to track Vers and Fury after their escape in a quadjet from the Joint USAFA Facility.
- Rookie Mistake – Novice S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson helps Director Keller out of an embarrassing situation.
- The fate of the universe hangs in the balance as the cast battles props, flubs and Flerkens in these outtakes from the set.
- Journey into Visual Effects with Victoria Alonso – Experience how filmmakers’ visions of the MCU come to life on-screen through the skill of the Visual Effects team.
- What Makes a Memory: Inside the “Mind Frack” – What does it take to craft an action-packed sequence for a Marvel Studios film? Nothing short of an epic team effort!
- Concept Art – Explore artwork from “Captain Marvel” and trace the visual development of characters.
- On-Set Images – Uncover a trove of behind-the-scenes and production photography.
Available on digital beginning May 28th.
Available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD beginning June 11th.