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Which Captain Marvel Is Better, and Why Is It the One Who's a Man?

Captain America

There's never been a better time to be a nerd! All the awesome superheroes I loved as a kid have made the leap to the big screen, and it actually works, mostly, now that special effects technology has progressed beyond George Reeves lying on his stomach in front of a green screen with a fan blowing on him. (No, seriously.) And now that everyone's favorite colorfully costumed adventurers have burst onto the screen, with varying levels of critical and financial success, it's time for the second-stringers to get their turn. Aquaman* is proving that anything is possible in America, even a box-office blockbuster featuring a character who spent the past 80 years as a punchline about a guy in tights talking to fish. And now it's time to get excited about... um... Captain Marvel?

If the latest trailer for the next entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is any indication, Captain Marvel's amazing powers include flight, invulnerability, super-strength, energy blasts, mild exasperation, and vocal fry:

The latest Marvel flick is set in the '90s, as helpfully indicated by the Elastica song on the jukebox, Brie Larson's Nine Inch Nails t-shirt, and Samuel L. Jackson getting CGI'ed back to a rough semblance of his Pulp Fiction-era middle age. If you saw Avengers: Infinity War -- and if you didn't, why are you still reading this? -- you know that in 2018, Nick Fury (Jackson) sent out some sort of intergalactic distress call to Captain Marvel (Larson) before he succumbed to Thanos' finger snap and collapsed into a pile of very pissed-off dust. If you're a Captain Marvel fan, now you get to find out how the two of them met and, presumably, why she still looks the same 25 years later. Not a lot of sun exposure out in deep space, I guess?

If you're not a Captain Marvel fan, you're probably a misogynist.

By the way, this is an entirely different Captain Marvel than the DC Comics version of Captain Marvel. For convoluted reasons that you can Google yourself if you really give a kryptonite, both companies publish superheroes with that name, but only Marvel can use it in the title. (It's not really fair, because the DC version actually came first, but whatever.) So when DC decided to do their own Captain Marvel movie, which is premiering a month later, they had to change his name to... SHAZAM!!!

DC is taking a different approach with their Captain Marvel, casting an appealing, charismatic actor. See how happy and excited he looks to be a superhero? The other Captain Marvel should try it. She'd be so pretty if she smiled more.**

All kidding aside, the "Big Red Cheese" is my favorite, but I'm sure the Marvel version will be fine too. All the Marvel movies have been at least tolerable, if not always memorable. I remember walking out of Thor: The Dark World feeling like I'd spent my entertainment dollar wisely, but I couldn't tell you what happened in it. Fun but disposable.

Kind of like a comic book!

*Since you didn't ask, I liked Aquaman. Two fins up! Although I'm not sure why he needs a chain wallet. Is he worried about getting pickpocketed by an octopus?

**Speaking of trolling, the easiest way to annoy a nerd, by which I mean someone even nerdier than me, is to pretend that the DC and Marvel versions of Captain Marvel are the same. Here are a few conversation-starters:

  • "I like the trailer, and Sam Jackson is good in everything, but... why doesn't Captain Marvel say her magic word?"
  • "That's awesome, the way he uses his magic lightning to charge people's phones. But wait, I thought the character was a woman?"
  • "Um, hello, I've basically read every comic book ever made, and DC and Marvel are totally the same thing."

No matter what your nerdy friend says, insist that there's only one Captain Marvel. Dismiss any evidence to the contrary, and do not give in. It's worth it, trust me.