Dumb things in Captain Marvel that everyone ignored

We did it! Eleven years and 476 movies later, Marvel made a female-led superhero movie. Much to the chagrin of Scarlett Johansson, last seen silently driving a fork into her own leg in a quiet but poignant expression of frustration, it wasn't even about Black Widow.

No, this was Captain Marvel's day in the sun. And you know what? It was pretty great. Taking a wide view, it's a movie about self-confidence in the face of adversity and how perseverance wins the day, and those are messages everybody can use from time to time. From a more narrow perspective, it's about a kickass space soldier blowing stuff up with CGI, and that's fun, too.

So try to understand that nobody here is jumping on the troll wagon when we say (and please stick with us here) that there were some heaping scoops of ridiculous in there, too. For real, Captain Marvel was a cool movie, and we are unabashedly stoked that girls have an unbearded protagonist to look up to for the first time in MCU history. That doesn't mean that there weren't nits to pick. This is the internet, where nits are picked with the same frequency and emotional intensity as noses.

If you haven't communed with the Supreme Intelligence yet, just be warned that there are spoilers ahead.

That Stan Lee intro

Stan Lee was the pop culture patron saint of a generation, okay? He's historically preserved in our memories forever, untouchable, like Fred Rogers and Bob Ross: a beacon of good intentions shining out to the zitty and disenfranchised (who are, ironically, now the driving force of the biggest franchise in history). He deserves every tribute we can offer him. If we ever meet actual aliens, humanity's version of "live long and prosper" will probably be "excelsior." Everybody misses him. Okay?

So let's talk about timing.

Keeping all that in mind, maybe the opening to the first ever female-led Marvel movie wasn't the place to pay an adoring tribute to an (ADMITTEDLY LOVELY) old white dude. Again, yes, Stan was the man, but at a very surface level, that's kind of the problem. Maybe we could've saved that title animation for Avengers: Endgame and let this run be about what it was about.

Sorry. We love you, Stan.

Wonkie-talkies

It's always a delicate thing, bringing technologically advanced aliens to the screen. They make a point of it in Thor when they say that sufficiently advanced science is going to look a lot like magic. The Kree fall right in line with that rule. They have tentacle brain robots, force field-powered armor that pops in and out of existence when a character's hair needs to get flowy for a scene, and spaceships that travel instantly to any point in space (more on that later).

The one thing they don't seem to have down is reliable walkie-talkie plans. During the opening mission, a whole lot of Skrull ambushing goes down when Carol's team can't get their darned cell phones to work.

Yeah, this is sort of a glass houses situation where Earth didn't have the best wireless coverage in 1995 either. It just seems like comms are something you should prioritize if you're going to a world crawling with shapeshifters and you insist on splitting up.

Not to question orders, but why?

Captain Marvel did something that scientists have said was impossible for years: It made a flashback sequence interesting to watch.

After Carol takes a wad of purple sleep zap to the face, the Skrulls take her back to their ship and start poking around in her memories. Like any great film or TV hero under the psychic knife, she realizes she's being messed with and busts right the fudge out of there, Hulk-smashing her way through a half dozen guards. That's when the toady standing closest to Talos does what any great henchman would do in a situation like that: He points his gun at her.

And then Talos does what all great supervillains do: he says not to shoot. You kind of have to ask yourself why.

Obviously the Skrull couldn't kill Carol, since his boss still needed the information in her head and Marvel still needed her for, conservatively, 14 more movies. But were they out of sleep potions? That seems like it would've been the best possible choice in the situation, but hey, maybe letting your crew get blasted out of airlocks is strategically advantageous. Or maybe he just was trusting his gut about where the plot was headed.

Light speed

MacGuffin trouble is the worst kind of trouble. If you never took an intro to film class or had MacGuffins obnoxiously mansplained to you by someone who took an intro to film class, a MacGuffin is the plot-congealing object that everybody in a story wants. It's the suitcase in Pulp Fiction, the letters of transit in Casablanca, and Mar-Vell's lightspeed engine technology in Captain Marvel.

So why, oh why, does anyone care about traveling at lightspeed (except for the humans who are still watching movies on VHS)?

Every space-faring species in the MCU already has access to near-instantaneous intergalactic travel. That includes the Kree and the Skrulls in this movie. In practically no time, they move from one side of the galaxy to the other. To put it in perspective, traveling at lightspeed, it would take a little over four years to travel from Earth to the closest neighboring star. That's a hell of a commute when you compare it to shouting "hit the jump point" to your pilot and then missing the rest of your travel time when you sneeze.

But for some reason, it also has the potential to end wars, which, okay, you can't really ever be too far away from villainous Jude Law. Still, it just sort of seems like the present-day United States sabotaging China's plans to develop advanced horseback riding because they can't be trusted with that technology.

Unclear (loco)motive

A lot about that train sequence didn't make sense. What, you ask? Well.

If you want to get way too far into the specifics, the train that Carol and the Skrull are fighting on is the Los Angeles Metro Blue Line. Yes, LA has a commuter train system. It's crazy since everyone sort of thinks of it as a town where you need a car to get around, but darn it if their subway system isn't perfectly functional. The Blue Line runs on a 22-mile stretch of track between downtown LA and Long Beach with 22 station stops in between, which the mathematically inclined among you will notice averages out to one stop per mile. The train moves at an average speed of 55 mph, meaning that it should pull into a station about once per minute.

But does it stop while Carol and the Skrull are tussling? Not once. Not once, friends. Now, it wouldn't take a whole lot of generosity on our part to allow that maybe the system was slightly different in 1995 or maybe this is the one part of the movie that the filmmakers figured no one would care much about and decided to cheat just a little.

Even if we do that, though, it just seems weird that nobody on that train pulled the emergency cord when a lady in full body armor started beating the sin out of a very athletic grandma.

We're working on it

Few things in this world are sacred. At this point, mostly just Jeff Goldblum and anything Phil Coulson touches in the MCU. So we're sorry if we have to get bitter and nerd-heavy here, but:

When Coulson was first introduced in Iron Man way back in 2008, he was just a nebulously charming government type. He was clean-cut, nonthreatening, and adamant in his desire to meet with Tony Stark on behalf of his employers, the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division. The name was long and rambling and it was really funny when he insisted on saying the full title every time, but thankfully someone within the organization eventually realized that it was also an accidentally sweet acronym and lo, they decided to start calling themselves S.H.I.E.L.D.

But that's in 2008. And we know that the Shoehorned Hardlined Initialized Etcetera Linguini Division has been around since the 1940s, but Captain Marvel gives us the earliest ever look at someone referring to it by its shortened monicker. So what, did they go by S.H.I.E.L.D. for a while, then abandon it in favor of the longer name at some point during the late '90s or early 2000s? There must be a time-travel/agency-wide memory-wipe subplot coming up in one of the sequels to explain this most important of nitpicks.

Boom.

Superhero origin stories are generally double deckers. On the bottom layer, you have the meaty personal tale that explains how the character became a force for good. Spider-Man's loss of Uncle Ben is a big one, or the death of Batman's parents. The top layer has all the fun stuff: how they got their powers. Thor finding his magic hammer. Batman doing push-ups until he could punch people so hard that they wouldn't crime anymore. This part isn't usually hyper-realistic, but hey. If you're willing to extend your disbelief enough to accept that a guy can run faster than a jet, you're not going to hop off just because he got that power from getting struck by lightning.

Still, "she exploded" was a heck of a leap. Not to get all "but in the source material" on you, but in the source material, Carol got her powers when an alien device blew up and melded her DNA with a nearby Kree. From what we saw in Captain Marvel, she was empowered by the grace of lucking out and, to put it in comic book terms, getting bitten by a radioactive kaboom. It's just that as ways to get your powers go, this one's a little less rocketed-to-Earth-from-Krypton and more in the territory of the plot of What Women Want, where Mel Gibson learns to read ladies' minds by falling into the tub with a hair dryer.

Clothed case

You know what most militaries love about their uniforms? How they're all so … what's the word? Cut and paste. Terribly alike. Uniform. It's part of why the Air Force institutes such a strict "no Pikachu stickers on your dress blues" policy.

Is it a huge deal? No. But it seems peculiar that the Kree, maybe the most elite military force in the universe, gave their soldiers battle armor that could swap out color palettes easier than a MySpace home page theme, especially when you consider how Jude Law's Yon-Rogg sees Carol's new red, blue, and gold duds and freaks right out. Why give your soldiers customizable Halo multiplayer armor if making the hues a little more summery is the ultimate offense?

And while we're on fashion week, it's worth pointing out that even after she gave her costume the ol' GTA Pay 'n' Spray treatment, Carol was still wearing the Kree insignia on her chest. She made such a big deal about not wanting to wear Kree colors anymore, but as acts of style rebellion go, that was kind of like busting away from Custer's brigade but keeping the "I Love Custer" T-shirt and saying it's cool because you tie-dyed it.

Cloak me to the moon

Okay, so all the players are established, the good guys have become the bad guys and vice versa, and the main superhero has gained enough knowledge about the past and her own powers to figure out which side of history to be on. Congrats, you must be 75 percent of the way through literally any movie in the MCU! Inevitably, here comes a pivotal, totally avoidable mistake that brings back the tension and gives the baddies a fighting chance. In Captain Marvel, it's a cloaking system.

Carol Danvers now has a bona fide posse, and the science guy Skrull has slapped together some sweet mods on a surprisingly acrobatic Earth plane, so the gang goes to get the glowy MacGuffin box that is actually a heartwarming family reunion. They all know Yon-Rogg and the other Kree ex-friends are hot on their tails, so they're in a hurry, but still … use your heads, you fools. You've just arrived at a cloaked Kree imperial cruiser with cloaking systems so good it's been hiding in orbit for six years. The villains are right behind you. After you've boarded the ship, please turn the cloaking mechanism back on. Or at least send one of the middle schoolers to act as a lookout or man the guns or whatever.

Nick Fury: Agent of C.R.I.N.G.E.

When the Star Wars prequels came out, one of their biggest problems was the difficulty of telling the origin story of a badass. Darth Vader was a powerful, mysterious figure in the original trilogy. Characters like that are practically begging for a backstory, but it's hard to show how somebody became an iconic nightmare without showing them as a less interesting, less scary dude first. That's how we got Anakin.

The point is, Sam Jackson should've known better.

As fun as Jackson himself is in Captain Marvel, Nick Fury is played as sort of a joke. For all his talk of field work and Cold War skullduggery, he's mostly just a goofball with a shockingly short memory when it comes to whether the animal he's holding is an actual monster. We don't see the Machiavellian super spy who was willing to bazooka one of his own men out of the sky in The Avengers. We see a guy who keeps a tentacle demon full of superweapon in his office after it's already killed like, eight guys. Maybe another decade or so on the job got him jaded.

Also, he couldn't come up with the word "Avenger" on his own.

Space 911

Carol Danvers is shown to have a wide array of powers in this movie, but none more impressive than her ability to E.T. an interstellar communications device out of '90s electronics. It's even how she closes out the movie: handing Fury a tricked-out space pager before bouncing back to space.

"It's just for emergencies" is the gist of what Carol tells Fury when she gives him the gadget, and having already experienced her strict rules about pager use, you have to assume that he takes that seriously. Maybe too seriously. Definitely too seriously.

What constitutes an emergency, Nick? The time a Norse god rained laser hell on New York didn't count? Because he did it using the Tesseract, aka the glowy Captain Marvel box. You don't think she could've contributed? How about when an army of robots tried to drop a city on the world? Or one of the dozens of times that Bruce Banner's turning into the Hulk backfired? Frankly, we're hard-pressed to think of a time when late April to early May rolled around and there wasn't a potentially world-ending event taking place.

But no, you had a guy with an unbreakable frisbee. Ah, what do we know. We're just a bunch of chumps who never lost an eye to cat scratch disease.

Remember?

People love to whine about Marvel movies for the same reason they like ripping on McDonald's french fries: They're popular and beloved and you know what? Make fun of them all you want, but they're still going to get your money eventually. The worst thing you can say about either thing (aside from bringing up the sodium in the fries) is that they're occasionally boringly familiar.

And so we come, hesitantly, to the biggest problem with Captain Marvel. Even with its great message, so much of it felt like a Marvel movie greatest hits Mad Lib. They nabbed the Guardians of the Galaxy offbeat, era-specific soundtrack. They had their own Groot, complete with hallway tentacle-slam slaughter, in Goose the Cat. Elsewhere, the same one-liners popped up in the middle of action sequences right where you knew you would find them. And man, have we ever already seen that part where Yon-Rogg tries to monologue Carol into a fight and then gets clobbered; it was almost beat-for-beat the scene where the same thing happens to Loki in Avengers. All this didn't ruin the movie or anything, because we all know what we're in for when we sit down for 90-120 minutes in the MCU, but it would've been nice if they'd spent some more time finding their own voice.