5 Ways to Prep: Captain Marvel
By George Rose
March 11, 2019
Oh thank you, Jesus, the wait is over. The wet turd sandwich that was January and February 2019 is behind us. Not only do we have our first expected $100+ million debut but it’s A MARVEL MOVIE!!! And not just any Marvel movie, but the first led by a woman and the last before the final Avengers movie of the third MCU Phase of the epic and amazing and brilliant and WHY DOES IT HAVE TO END Marvel mega franchise. This is it, folks. 2019 is the end of normal cinema as we know it, Disney’s most legendary year to come that will last for at least a decade, and the first with a leading MCU lady… and it all starts now with Captain Marvel!
You know the MCU, you’ve heard of my obsession with it and the everything else is just dead noise. LEGO 2 shit the bed? Nobody cares. How to Train Your Dragon 3 opened “the biggest in the franchise” but might earn the least? Eh, over it. Marvel’s first blockbuster of the year? DING DING DING, I give a shit! So pumped. Let’s skip the nonsense and get right to it. Here are the 5 Ways to Prep for the first film of 2019 to finally matter, Captain Marvel!
#1) AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018)
It’s officially been more than 10 years and 20 films that have made up the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There’s the Avengers (the good guys) and Thanos (the bad guy). Thanos has six special stones that gave him the power to destroy half the galaxy and the only person that can stop him is Captain Marvel, someone we haven’t met yet. We know Nick Fury (the man that helped form the Avengers) summoned Captain Marvel just before Thanos dusted him away, and that Captain Marvel is actually an Avengers prequel set in the 1990’s. Where’s she’s been since the 90’s is anyone’s guess. She could be frozen like Captain America was or maybe she was napping on a beach somewhere. Regardless, Captain Marvel will help give you the last bit of backstory needed before Avengers: Endgame hits next month to close out the MCU saga.
#2) WONDER WOMAN (2017)
It’s common knowledge that Marvel generally makes better solo and team-up superhero features than DC Comics. Except, the only movie Marvel hasn’t made yet has already become DC’s shining star. The DC Universe has done a lot wrong but withholding a female-led film was not one of those things, and it’s arguably their best film to date. Although an Amazonian Princess is much different than a basic white girl that gains alien powers, most analysts can’t help but compare Wonder Woman to Captain Marvel. Both are the first woman in their respective cinematic universes, both will open above $100 million and both will likely end up around the $400 million mark. Wonder Woman’s exact numbers: $103 million debut, $413 million domestic and $822 million worldwide. Can Marvel hit those same marks? Are those numbers the ceiling for a woman hero or is whatever DC does the floor for what Marvel can expect? Anything is possible and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out!
#3) CATWOMAN (2004) vs ELEKTRA (2005)
Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time that both DC and Marvel have had their “first female hero.” Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel are just the first female leads within these modern cinematic universes of interconnected films. However, not only have both actually had female solo features before but DC beat Marvel to the punch then as well. In that case, both were so incredibly bad that they did severe damage to their brands which prevented the gender from getting another chance at breakout success for over a decade. With Wonder Woman already proving a critical/financial smash hit and with the MCU’s track record proving consistently amazing, it seems a decade has helped flipped the script for these modern day ladies.
Back in the day, though, Catwoman had a $17 million debut, a $40 million domestic total and made $82 million worldwide. Elektra did even worse a year later with a $13 million debut, $24 million domestic total and $57 million worldwide. If history repeats itself and Marvel falls behind DC for coming out second, then Captain Marvel could see the following numbers: $78 million debut (-24%), $248 million domestic (-40%), $575 million worldwide (-30%). But that’s what happens when DC beats Marvel to the punch with bad movies, not good. This time we have good movies so maybe the opposite is true and Marvel is the one that does better. If the opposite holds true, Captain Marvel end up with the following compared to Wonder Woman: $135 million debut (+31%), $690 million domestic (+67%), and $1.18 billion worldwide (+44%). Yeah, those numbers seem wonky but, then again, I’m just having fun with irrelevant, decade-old percentages that most certainly don’t apply here. Realistically, many are expecting a $120-140 million debut, $350-450 million domestic and $800 million - $1 billion worldwide.
#4) MARVEL-OUS INTRODUCTIONS
Maybe we shouldn’t focus on the DC/Marvel comps, because Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman aren’t likely to follow the same percentage paths as Catwoman and Elektra. Maybe we should just be looking at the MCU itself for answers. I mean, the first MCU woman is destined to do better than the worst of the men (Ant-Man) but likely less than the biggest of the men (Black Panther); keep in mind, Panther was bigger than any Avengers in America, so it’s performance goes well-beyond the aid of simply having a male lead and tapped into larger cultural themes. Also, Black Widow has been a reliable female draw in the franchise for years and Wonder Woman already capitalize on being a female lead, so expecting Captain Marvel to break ground the way Black Panther did is just pure fantasy. Maybe somewhere in the middle is likely? Let’s look at the numbers for solo feature debut films and see what we find:
IRON MAN (2008): $98.6 million debut, $318.4 million domestic, $585.2 million worldwide
INCREDIBLE HULK (2008): $55.4 million debut, $134.8 million domestic, $263.4 million worldwide
THOR (2011): $65.7 million debut, $181.0 million domestic, $449.3 million worldwide
CAPTAIN AMERICA (2011): $65.1 million debut, $176.7 million domestic, $370.6 million worldwide
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014): $94.3 million debut, $333.2 million domestic, $773.3 million worldwide
ANT-MAN (2015): $57.2 million debut, $180.2 million domestic, $519.3 million worldwide
DOCTOR STRANGE (2016): $85.1 million debut, $232.6 million domestic, $677.7 million worldwide
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017): $117.0 million debut, $334.2 million domestic, $880.2 million worldwide
BLACK PANTHER (2018): $202.0 million debut, $700.1 million domestic, $1.35 billion worldwide
The average of all MCU first-time features: $93.4 million debut, $287.9 million domestic and $652.1 million worldwide. The good news is these numbers all seem much lower than what everyone is expecting for Captain Marvel. That means that Captain Marvel is better than the average Marvel man! Granted, the average MCU woman is working from a pool of only one film, but current projections have Captain Marvel crushing the average numbers of each MCU hero debut. That makes the one woman better than the male group average and that’s pretty cool. There’s still a chance Marvel doesn’t top DCEU’s female but that’s ok because she’s about to top the men within her own clubhouse. Everyone hail the new team Captain!
#5) ROOM (2015)
Its ok that nobody expects Black Panther numbers for Captain Marvel, because a $135/400 million debut/total still puts it well ahead of her other superhero peers. To be honest, with such a drought in January and February, I wouldn’t be surprised if this actually was another mega Panther performance. Then again, the drought could surprise us all and last throughout the year. Captain Marvel is the first of the dozen-or-so behemoths to come that can help Hollywood save face against the rest of the releases. If she tanks, though, then the year ahead is in serious trouble. Just ask Glass and LEGO Movie 2 about lofty expectations not playing out.
The good news here is that there’s virtually no way Captain Marvel flops so badly as to harm Brie Larson’s career. She won an Oscar for Room, a film that opened wide with just over $1 million and earned just under $15 million. Captain Marvel’s Thursday night sneak peeks could eclipse that if a $100+ million opening weekend is actually in store. And also, for the record, you may have recently heard some garbage internet chatter about how Brie Larson got $5 million for her film while Chadwick Boseman only got $2 million for Black Panther, despite him having also already started in Captain America: Civil War. Obviously a straight white man started this debate to pit black people against white women and take some heat off of themselves, but it’s pointless. Brie Larson won an Oscar and Chadwick Boseman hasn’t even been nominated for a Golden Globe, so that explains it.
And with that, my friends, we can finally rest easy and enjoy the first truly newsworthy release of 2019. Marvel is here to save us again. If the reviews come in softer-than-expected and the opening weekend falls short of $100 million then, well, it’s time to start building your underground apocalypse bunker. For now, let’s have faith in the studio that has yet to let us down and pray to the nerd gods that Hollywood is worth saving.