There have been many movies about Superman, but none captures the spirit of the character quite as well as Marvel Studios’ 2019 film ‘Captain Marvel’.
‘Superman’ (1978) and ‘Superman II’ (1980) are classics, and the closest we have ever gotten to a perfect actual Superman movie.
But the superhero movie has evolved since 1980, and these two films have not aged perfectly.
They were an amazing achievement at the time, but they are a bit slow for a modern audience.
‘Man of Steel’ (2013) had a lot going for it, and I enjoyed a lot of it. It may not be as good as the two first Superman films, but there was something there.
But it lacks the joyful spirit that is inherent to the story of Superman.
Then we have ‘Superman III’ (1983), ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace’ (1987), ‘Superman Returns’ (2006), and ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (2016).
None of these are anywhere near as good as the first three films I mentioned, so let’s ignore them.
So what does a good Superman movie need?
In broad terms, it needs a virtuous and joyful hero with immense power facing off against an even greater immoral force.
‘Captain Marvel’ has all that, but that could be true of many other superhero movies. So let’s get into power specifics!
Superman can fly, has super strength, x-ray vision and can shoot lasers from his eyes. He also has ice-breath, super-speed, enhanced hearing, and he is invulnerable. Well, as long as he is not close to any meteorites from his home planet, as he is allergic to them.
Like Superman, Captain Marvel can fly and has super strength. But instead of shooting rays from her eyes, she does so from her hands.
But she lacks super-speed, enhanced hearing, x-ray vision and complete invulnerability. This actually makes it far more interesting to watch her movie, as those powers are so powerful that they can destroy the tension in any story.
Invulnerability removes any sense of danger we can feel for the main character. Enhanced hearing and x-ray vision makes it far too easy for the hero to know everything there is to know about any given situation. And super-speed essentially means that the hero can pause time, removing any sense of urgency from the story.
Captain Marvel lacks some of Superman’s powers, and she is a more compelling superhero because of it.
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