The Marvel Cinematic Universe loves referencing classic movies, particularly when it comes to the 80s and 90s (especially when Peter Quill or Peter Parker is involved), so with Captain Marvel taking place in the 1990s, which films from that decade should it homage?
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Captain Marvel will be the 21st film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but will only be the MCU's second period film. Captain America: The First Avenger took place entirely in the 1940s, with an end-credits scene showing Steve Rogers reawakening in 2012, just in time to join The Avengers. Other MCU films have shown past events as well; for instance, Ant-Man opened with a scene at the S.H.I.E.L.D. Triskelion set in 1989. Also, one of the most pivotal events of the MCU was the assassination of Howard and Maria Stark by the Winter Soldier as seen in Captain America: Civil War, which took place on December 16, 1991. However, Marvel Studios' first solo female-led film, starring Oscar winner Brie Larson as the titular superhero, is expected to be set entirely in the last decade of the twentieth century.
One of the ways Marvel has kept the MCU fresh and vibrant is by experimenting with different genres: Spider-Man: Homecoming was a John Hughes-style high school comedy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a 1970s-style spy thriller, and Thor: Ragnarok was a 1980s-influenced outer space road trip and buddy comedy. With all of the 1990s to play with as its setting, Captain Marvel has a golden opportunity to weave in homages to some of the most popular and influential films of that decade - but do it in the inimitable Marvel style.
With the popularizing of independent films and indie-darling auteur directors thanks to the rise of Miramax to huge blockbusters that epitomized the excesses of Hollywood, the 1990s has no lack of defining films that Captain Marvel could reference. This isn't to suggest Captain Marvel should reference all of these films listed below, but if they are going to offer nods to popular films of the decade, here are some musts:
- This Page: 1990s Independent Films To Homage
- Next Page: 1990s Superhero Films and Blockbusters Captain Marvel Should Homage
Pulp Fiction is a no-brainer considering the presence of Samuel L. Jackson as S.H.I.E.L.D. superspy Nick Fury in Captain Marvel. This era's younger Fury has both eyes working, and could easily drop references to one of his most famous roles, Pulp Fiction's noble but fiery-tempered killer Jules Winnfield. Widely considered the seminal film of writer-director Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction was nominated for multiple Academy Awards in 1994 (winning Best Original Screenplay), and not only put Tarantino but also its studio Miramax on the map as a major force in Hollywood. Pulp Fiction was widely imitated for Tarantino's brazen dialogue and unique non-linear story structure, as well as its popular soundtrack.
Carol Danvers will reportedly be the first superhero Fury meets, but Jackson-as-Fury visually resembling his iconic role as the Bible-verse quoting assassin and maybe even working in one of this many infamous lines of dialogue would be an easy and fun nod to Pulp Fiction. It should be noted, however, that the MCU has already homaged Pulp Fiction: at the very end of The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury's tombstone is inscribed with the words from Ezekiel 25:17 - "the path of the righteous man..." - which was Jules Winnfield's signature quote. But nothing is stopping Captain Marvel from adding its own fun homages.
Another writer-director Miramax put on the map in the 1990s, comic book uber-geek Kevin Smith burst onto the scene with his mega-low budget but hilarious black and white indie Clerks. A very-1990s tale of two foul-mouthed slackers who work in a convenience store and adjacent video store in a New Jersey strip mall, Clerks showcased Smith's deep love of superheroes, Star Wars, and pop culture, while his characters, despite lacking career ambitions, pondered their lives and asked existential questions. The film also introduced Smith's signature characters, Jay and Silent Bob, who would go onto star in many of Smith's later films and other works (even recently popping up on CW's The Flash).
Captain Marvel is about Air Force pilot Carol Danvers, who gains superpowers and becomes an intergalactic superhero, so there's not much to relate to a story about pop culture-obsessed slackers, but perhaps somehow homaging one of Clerks' most iconic lines - "I'm not even supposed to be here today!" - would be a welcome nod to Kevin Smith (who would no doubt love it).
It's also hard to see how Captain Marvel could relate to a group of heroin-addicted friends in 1996 Edinborough, Scotland, but Trainspotting is about as 1990s as films get. Arguably director Danny Boyle's most beloved film, Trainspotting helped launch the career of Ewan McGregor and showcased Boyle's incendiary, propulsive filmmaking, which was backed by an unforgettable soundtrack featuring Underworld and Iggy Pop.
In terms of homages, Captain Marvel probably can't borrow too much from Trainspotting besides nods to its music and visual style. However, Carol Danvers does go to outer space, so maybe she could come upon the Worst Toilet in the Kree Homeworld.
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