SPILLING INK: Why did Carol Danvers punch Grandma?

Tuesday morning the internet was abuzz, # CaptainMarvel, #CarolDanvers, #BrieLarson, and #MarvelStudios were all trending as the long awaited trailer finally dropped.

Since Avengers 3, the world has had a big question on their mind. Who is Captain Marvel?

It’s a fair question too as her (and sometimes his) name has belonged to a multitude of characters. But for this article, we’re just going to focus on the MCU version. The post credit scene at the end of Avengers 3 had Nick Fury sending out a distress call.

The response: a gold Hala Star outlined in red and blue. Captain Marvel.

Now that the trailer has dropped, the world has been given a new big question.

Why is Captain Marvel punching Grandma?

Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel

Typical first trailers in the MCU offer the most action packed or dramatic scenes in the upcoming movie. This trailer however felt as if it were explaining the character. Which makes perfect sense as the character of Captain Marvel is such an unknown to people. Smart move on Marvel Studios, if you ask me.

So how did they do it?

We open with Captain Marvel falling through the sky toward a Blockbuster video. Right off the bat you know three things.

1. She’s already got her powers. Obvious by the Kree uniform she is wearing. (Carol Danvers is or was human until she was infused with DNA changing energy that gave her powers. After that she served with Kree warriors in Star Force.)

2. This is not a typical origin story. Since they are showing her in both the Kree and Captain Marvel costumes during this movie it cannot be an origin story. There wouldn’t be enough time to tell it and cover all her time spent in the Kree special ops unit as well as becoming what we know as Captain Marvel. So we have to assume it is going to show some of this in flashback rather than start from the ground up.

3. This movie is set in the 90’s because when was the last time you were in a Blockbuster video Store?

While this isn’t going to be an origin story, Carol Danvers does drop a clue that she has “memory gaps” which emphasizes the point of this not being told in chronological order but does tell us that we will be shown the important parts of how she became Captain Marvel.

This is important for us to know because, as I said earlier, many people are wondering who this character is. She’s not as well-known as Iron Man or Captain America, and her comic book history has a lot of variations to wade through. Not to mention, another character getting a movie in the DC universe, Shazam, also holds the title Marvel. The Kree responsible for Carol getting her powers also went by Mar-Vel. And, yet another character we will hopefully meet in this movie, Monica Rambeau has also held the title in the comics (though she’s better known as Photon). Try googling Captain Marvel sometime, but you had better plan for an all-nighter because there is a lot of information to wade through.

But we’re getting off track. Back to the trailer.

Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) begins a voiceover talking about war, soldiers, aliens, and the like as we see Carol Danvers looking very confused with the world she’s landed in. It is here we get our first look at a young (de-aged) Nick Fury. He admits he was about ready to give up until her appearance renewed his interest (in S.H.I.E.L.D. we assume).

We also get the admission from Danvers, that she is having memory gaps, and her history is complicated. Visually this is explained by quick transitions between her time as an Airforce pilot as well as her time on the Kree world, working with Star Force.

Samuel L Jackson comes back to voice “We have no idea what threats are out there.” Just as they quickly flash between Fury watching an alien autopsy while holding an icepack over his (possibly missing eye) and Skrull warriors emerging from the water. This visual clue for the viewer sets up the “enemy.” Then amongst the quick visual flashes, we see the seemingly sweet old lady that Danvers punches.

I found it odd that they flashed those sequences so quickly as they are of extreme importance. You miss the first and the second doesn’t make sense. If you only saw Carol punching the lady, you’d assume she was a villain.

I’m sure Marvel had their reasons for such quick cuts. And I have no doubt that “Why did Captain Marvel punch an old lady,” was topping the search engine requests shortly after it was broadcast. But really, if Marvel studios was doing what I assumed they were doing with this trailer– helping people understand who Captain Marvel is – they would have spent just a teensy bit more time showing us that the Skrull are shapeshifters. That sweet looking old grandma was anything but. Sadly, those who do not know might have been put off by it.
Not everyone is going to spend hours researching a new unknown hero without good reason and painting her as a granny puncher might have been something for trailer #2. Just my two cents.

Back to the breakdown.
The quick cuts did not end with the granny punch. Following Danver’s wicked right cross, Samuel L. Jackson (Fury) talks about needing her help. There is a smooth transition between the words Her and A Hero that are well timed with Fury’s words about needing a warrior. This further solidifies the position Danvers is in during the movie. She’s got potential but has not reached it yet, despite her powers. (Classic, Hero’s Journey)

They continue to flash eye candy like Ronan the Accuser (you might remember him from Guardians of the Galaxy), Agent Coulson (Who doesn’t love him?), and an explosion enveloping Danvers in blue light (There’s your origin story flashback).

All of this culminates in Danvers saying “I’m not what you think I am.” While they quick cut to various shots of her character standing up to fight.

Very typical of the Hero’s Journey arc: refusing the call to action, but ultimately doing it for the greater good.

Based on the information gleaned from the two-minute trailer, and knowing that after Avengers 3, she is the last call Nick Fury makes, we know she will fight. She will win. And that sets her up to be the Super Hero who can help them defeat Thanos in Avengers 4.

So, to summarize.
The movie drops March 2019.
This is only the first trailer – Character arc heavy. Watch for future trailers to learn more.
The trailer sets us up with three major plots: Time in StarForce, Kree-Skrull war (Secret Invasion), and Taking the mantle Captain Marvel.
This is a further MCU defining story. Not only are you going to see how Captain Marvel is set up to be the helper of the Avengers in their 4th movie, but you’re going to learn more about characters you’ve already met : Nick Fury, Agent Phil Coulson, Ronan the Accuser.

Easter Eggs:
Blockbuster Video
Nick Fury’s pager.
Nick Fury’s eye injury.
Maria Rambeau. (Mother of Monica Rambeau aka Photon)
Ronan the Accuser. (GOTG)
Korath the Pursuer. (GOTG)
Kree Starforce
Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. (Potential Energy Group/Alternate Sources/United States) S.H.I.E.L.D. joint taskforce scientific base. – This is the base they blew up in Avengers 1.

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