The ‘Other’ Brilliant Reason the First ‘Captain Marvel’ Did So Well At the Box Office

When people ask why Captain Marvel was a hit, many people may be inclined to respond, “Because the movie was fun.” Even Brie Larson seemed surprised when the movie joined the ever-growing billion-dollar club in the MCU. 

While the quality of the movie is certainly key, that’s also entirely subjective. The other reason it hit is because Marvel, and Disney in particular, are masters of the sell. They know exactly when and how to pitch a movie, and they haven’t had to deal with an out-and-out failure yet. 

Critics and audiences quite liked ‘Captain Marvel’

Brie Larson on the red carpet
Brie Larson | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

From the moment the title character crashed into a building that turned out to be a Blockbuster Video, fans were pumped. At long last, Marvel was finally giving a female hero her own movie, and fans were grateful to see Nick Fury again, since he hadn’t played a prominent part in an MCU movie for quite some time. 

The movie scored a strong 78 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, with the Critical Consensus reading “Packed with action, humor, and visual thrills, Captain Marvel introduces the MCU’s latest hero with an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise’s signature formula.”

Rankings of MCU movies tended to place Captain Marvel in about the middle of the pack – not among their best work, but it was solidly entertaining. 

Then there were the box office numbers. Its opening weekend was an impressive $153 million, and the international total was $702 million, bringing the total tally to $1.2 billion. Larson told Ellen DeGeneres, “I just think that number is so funny. I feel like $1 billion is something you say in hyperbole … but it actually made a billion dollars.” 

Fans say Marvel’s timing was brilliant

That kind of success guaranteed a sequel, and on Reddit, fans dissected what that could entail while thinking back on what made the first movie work. One fan noticed it came out right before the hotly anticipated  Avengers: Endgame, which gave Carol Danvers a prime release slot. And once fans saw the movie, fans thought, “So this is how the Avengers will defeat Thanos.”

There has been some disappointment that Captain Marvel’s ultimate appearance in Endgame, with one fan saying, “She really got the s— end of the stick when it comes to the introduction of the new ‘trilogy’ as people call them. She had a fight scene with Thanos for like 2 minutes, but that’s it. Really had no impact on the story whatsoever.”

Some fans had misgivings with Captain Marvel, thinking that seven writers made the story a bit of a patchwork/Frankenstein construction, but even if fans had their reservations, they like the character enough, and Larson enough, to want to see her in an even better movie.

Some fans felt the other Captain, America, had a fairly underwhelming start with The First Avenger, while The Winter Soldier was a significant improvement. Fans would like to see Captain Marvel follow the same trajectory. 

Negativity won’t keep ‘Captain Marvel 2’ from happening

Even with a mostly positive reception, the movie also prompted some bizarre stories about Larson to try to paint her in a negative light. Some fans studied an interview clip with Larson and Don Cheadle like it was the Zapruder film, looking for clues that the other Marvel cast members hated her.

Other fans took Larson to task for not smiling enough, and Larson responded by pasting cheesy smiles on the faces of her male counterparts. 

On the whole, though, Larson ignores all the vitriol, saying “I don’t have time for it, you know? The things that I have extra time to really look at are, like: Am I eating healthy food? Am I drinking water? Am I meditating? Have I called my mom today?”

There is no word yet on when the Captain Marvel sequel will come out, but it shares a writer with the WandaVision series, and that show comes out on Disney+ later this year. Hopefully by that point, we’ll have a clearer idea of when the sequel will arrive.