I’m A Female Critic, And To Be Honest, I Didn’t Love Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel hits theaters this weekend, and although a huge faction of people have not caught the movie yet, there’s already been a lot of the conversation around the movie, specifically about gender and movie criticism.
From people trolling the film on Rotten Tomatoes to conversations about representation to worries from some (who haven’t even seen the movie) that it would perhaps have too much of a social agenda, the chatter around Captain Marvel has seemingly been about everything other than the movie itself. In fact, it has even sparked conversations about whether all or at least half of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes should be from female critics.
At the time of this writing, Captain Marvel is currently running at an 83% in critical reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Although the film hasn’t achieved the heights of say Black Panther (97%), Thor: Ragnarok (92%) or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.1 (91%), that’s a very respectable score, with both positive and negative reviews coming from both men and women—although just counting the first page of reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, there were 16 men to 4 women represented.
It’s a refrain we’ve actually heard from celebrities before. Most notably in recent memory, the cast of Ocean’s Eight coming out to discuss the fact they felt the movie wasn’t made for men and that perhaps male critics didn’t get it. There's a thought that perhaps only women should be responsible for reviews for movies starring women.
To be honest, however, I’m a female critic and I didn’t really love Captain Marvel.
I think Captain Marvel does a fine enough job of setting up the character’s origin story. The de-aging wasn’t half bad either, and there were some laughs to be had. It’s a totally acceptable movie and I would have said that in my review.
But I didn’t review Captain Marvel for CinemaBlend. In fact, our reviewer, who is male, thought the movie was delightful. He didn’t have the problems with the weak jokes, the unidentifiable tone and even the music that I had. He enjoyed the origin story and really admired the digital work that Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck put in, noting it’s “absolutely a blockbuster to which the industry should look as it's doing its part to try and reinvent the wheel.”
To me, however, Marvel has set the bar high with its movies. Avengers: Infinity War was astonishing and had such a shocking and spry script that capably showcased a wide variety of characters. The wonder of Wakanda and even the rhinos bought to life an incredible new world in Black Panther. Thor and The Guardians and even Ant-Man have separated themselves out by having fun and tonally different takes than anything else in the MCU or in other blockbuster flicks.
Captain Marvel is missing a lot of those different types of sparks and for me it didn’t offer anything on its own terms that is new or exceptional or necessary to see on the big screen. It’s a fine enough movie, but especially because I think the expectations were so high with Marvel’s first lead superheroine, I do think some people will be disappointed. I was.
I’m paid to live, breathe and opine movies, to be moved by them, to take joy in all kinds of visual wonders and funny moments, to immerse myself in gripping dialogue and action. I spend a lot of time in front of a screen and I see a lot of bad movies as well as good ones. Sometimes I agree with the consensus. Sometimes I don’t.
But what I would really hate would be to be to be told that I don’t deserve to have an opinion on Creed II because boxing movies are not really in my wheelhouse. Or that I don’t get to feel lukewarm about Ocean’s Eight because I’m a woman.
A long time ago, people were familiar with their neighborhood movie critics. They might know if action or rom-coms were not in that critic’s wheelhouse and take those opinions with a little bit of salt based on their own personal taste.
In the vastness of the Internet, one person’s voice may not matter as much as the collective whole, but they should still all be shared.
I think at the end of the day, what we all really want is probably the same thing. Diversity in movie criticism is only going to grow our understanding of what works and doesn’t in movies by leaps and bounds. It could even lead to different movies finding success or Hollywood tackling different projects.
But only half of getting to that place is opportunity. The other half is respectfully allowing everyone to have a voice, whether or not it’s the “right type” of movie for that person.
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Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.