I remember it vividly. There was outcry from the media and the fandom over a casting choice. The broad consensus seemed to be that it was pretty much the worst casting decision for the character. Although there was some dissent on who was the right actor for the character. Friends in the fandom and I all agreed, we didn’t think it would work, but we would likely see the movie anyway.
The year was 1988, the actor was Michael Keaton. The movie was Batman.
And we were all wrong, it worked really, really well. As have many other questioned (by one or many) casting choices. Examples range from John Boyega as Finn (because someone may have complained about a black Stormtrooper?), to Daisy Ridley as Rey (or so I am told?), to Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman (honestly, the only complaint I ever heard about her was that she was too thin…), to the cast of the reboot Ghostbusters. All worked. All were controversial to varying degrees, but all worked out. When you think back, I am sure you will remember more – and not all worked, but many did. Hell, I remember joking about Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan as an action hero. But three Matrix movies and two John Wicks later, we have the odd transposition of John ‘Neo’ Wick as a aged slacker in Bill & Ted 3?
The more things change, right?
I bring this up, because we are again in the throes of another stupid casting controversy. Which now, in the age of the internet and instant validation for any and all opinions, means controversy over the movie itself. Before it is released, of course. That is actually one of the key points – real controversy lasts through release, manufactured controversy ends with release. If there were really any problems based on gender or race, they wouldn’t go away with a good performance. The Kelly Marie Tran / Rose Tico issue began after release. She wasn’t an issue until then. So the issues were real, even if they were with the character and our society is too stupid to distinguish between the two.
With Captain Marvel, I see a movie with a main character that is…off. Brie Larson’s facial expressions seem to be either ‘this is so stupid I can’t believe it…must not laugh’ or ‘I don’t get it at all, my agent did this to me, must look serious’. Again, this is based on nothing but the trailers. Actual footage may have different looks happening, we will see.
Worth noting that Jude Law is wearing the same expression. I have seen more of his movies than Brie Larson’s. I have seen two with her in it – Scott Pilgrim vs The World and Kong: Skull Island. It is six for Jude Law, including Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow, Enemy At The Gates, eXistenZ, Gattaca, and his Sherlock Holmes movies. So I know both of them can, in fact, have a range of facial expressions. They just, in the trailers, don’t really seem to here.
For now, it looks like the only fun being had is from Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury. Which is fine, that would be a fun movie.
I do want to see if the so-called controversy over this lasts past opening weekend. If the controversy vanishes, then there is a good chance it was manufactured – either for laughs or to keep the property in the media / social media cycle.
But there is more to be concerned about…
Captain Marvel has, as the main (so I hear at least) villains the shape-shifting Skrulls.
I don’t like that. I have never been a fan of the Skrulls. Green-skinned, pointy-eared aliens that can look like anyone. It is a bit of a too-on-the-nose warning about Canadians, and while it is true that they look just like us, and speak mostly like us, that doesn’t mean they are infiltrating and undermining our society! Canadians, or Soviets, either way, really.
The reason I dislike bringing them in is because it carries so very much baggage with it, and feels like a setup for ‘no, that wasn’t REALLY Character X, just a Skrull!’ as a way to undo the Snap. Like the ill-fated Daredevil movie, there is also far too much background to fit into a single movie, and still have it’s own plot in there too. Which makes me worry that Captain Marvel will fall on the Green Lantern / Daredevil end of the quality spectrum. Not a place anyone wants to be.
Are the Skrulls actually representing something darker?
Further, if the Skrulls are just there to serve as fake heroes, fallen to Thanos, that changes them from Soviet analogues to something far worse. It makes them into whipping boys (aliens?). And there is a really bad connotation there:
A whipping boy was a slave who suffered corporal punishment on behalf of his young master.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whipping_boy
So, are we introducing these aliens just to kill them off? Are we going to try to tell the Kree / Skrull War storyline? Or are we just lazy about it all now, and tossing in a set of instant baddies who don’t take much work?
Taking that further, the Skrull are presented as a classic ‘evil race’. Like the poorly written Drow, everyone is evil! Which is also problematic. We get too much of that kind of crap in reality. We have progressives dividing the world into ‘white’ and ‘not white’ as synonyms for ‘bad’ and ‘good’, and conservatives branding all liberals as pro-infanticide. Neither is right, and both are their own kinds of evil. So adding in the ‘evil Skrulls’ into an already hot mess of social discord seems tone-deaf at best, and the cinematic version of the Limp Bizkit performance at Woodstock 99 at worst.