Rafa Márquez El capitán 2024 Movie Review
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Rafa Márquez: El capitán 2024 Movie Review

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Rafa Márquez: El capitán 2024 Movie Review

I first noticed Rafael Marquez as a Barcelona player when I started supporting the Spanish football club. He was already quite famous back then, having played in two World Cups already, both as captains. Little did I know I would be writing about Rafael Marquez thanks to a Netflix documentary after all these years. I am obviously happy about it, given that I quite liked him as a player, and especially because he was a part of the club football team I support. Well, he’s still part of the club, as he happens to be the current coach of Barcelona B. Let us now take a closer look at Rafa Marquez: El Capitan.

Rafa Marquez: El Capitan opens in the present, with the man at the training ground with the Barcelona B team. The scene soon changes to the greatest controversy of Rafa’s life: the US Treasury Department alleging him to be involved with a drug cartel, which obviously happened in the past. While it seems like the documentary might do a non-linear narrative thing or juggle different timelines of Rafa’s life (which would have been something), it soon takes the usual route of a biopic.

We go back to the beginning. Rafa was born in Zamora, Michoacan. His father was a footballer as well (also a center-back) like him and served as the main inspiration behind his taking on the game. It’s a fairly simple story like most sportsmen: getting recognized as a child prodigy, then going on to the big stage and shining. Rafa did face a hitch, though, when the principal of his middle school was not quite vibing with the idea of him taking a long leave to pursue football. But thanks to having a great set of parents, he got the chance to show courage by leaving the school itself.

Rafa’s first big break came when he signed for Mexican club Atlas. Then coach Ricardo La Volpe really liked what he was doing, and after Rafa’s joining, Atlas’ fortune changed as well. After spending 3 years there, he moved to the French club Monaco. While many talented South American players fail to make it to Europe due to a sudden cultural shock, Marquez didn’t have any problem adapting. In 2002, Marquez took the field in his first World Cup, that too as the captain. Mexico started well by advancing to the second round, but sadly, they lost to archrival the USA despite being the favorite on paper. More bad things followed Rafa post-World Cup when his father fell sick (and eventually died), and he also had trouble with his French club team. Monaco was not cool with Rafa spending so much time in Mexico, and that’s where the relationship got sour and eventually ended.

However, 2003 came as a blessing to Rafa when he joined Barcelona. It’s sort of ironic that Rafa (and his father) used to dream about him playing for Real Madrid one day (thanks to Hugo Sanchez, the most popular Mexican footballer at that time, being a Madridista) and then ending up at the house of Real’s greatest rival, Barcelona. But Barcelona embraced Rafa warmly, and he soon became one of the most formidable Barca players of that time. Rafa had the best spell of his professional career at Barcelona, where he went on to win the La Liga four times and the prestigious UEFA Champions League (the highest accolade in club football for a team) multiple times, becoming the first Mexican to do so. There wasn’t any doubt over Rafa’s contribution to Barcelona’s success, but during the back end of his Barcelona career, things weren’t really working out for him, especially after getting back from an injury. When coach Pep Guardiola honestly told him he was no longer in need of Rafa, he made the decision to go on a new adventure—all the way to the New York Red Bulls. Sadly, he didn’t have a good time in the USA. In the documentary, he admits that moving there was a mistake. After the USA, Rafa finally returned to Mexico to play for Leon. He eventually went on to win the Mexican League for Leon. Eventually, Rafa returned to Atlas, his boyhood club, for his final years in club football. 

The documentary also goes deep into Rafa’s (and Mexico’s) tryst with the football World Cup, where he never really got to cross the second round despite showing promise. The infamous Argent Roben penalty incident from the 2010 World Cup features in the documentary, and Rafa goes on to say that he believes it was not a penalty. The documentary doesn’t show much of Rafa’s personal life other than a little bit about his courtship with his second wife, Jaydy Michel. His children from the first marriage—Santiago and Rafaela—also appear briefly. The dark days of getting accused of being involved with a drug cartel are also touched upon.


Review

I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy watching Rafa Marquez: El Capitan. But that doesn’t exactly mean it’s a good documentary because it has a lot to do with the fact that Marquez played for FC Barcelona, the football club I happen to support. Since he was a huge part of Barcelona’s glory days (which is a rarity in present time), it’s obviously a great feeling for me to relive that through the documentary—now as an adult. However, Rafa Marquez: El Capitan is just like any basic sports documentary. The opening ten minutes are hopeful, and it does seem like maybe something different is in store for you. But then it gets into the same old documentary mold and tries to cover Rafa’s life as a sportsman. That’s not exactly bad, as the documentary is quite entertaining and also has the production values of Netflix, but that’s just about it. 

I also don’t quite understand why the controversy part was not quite highlighted. In fact, a whole other documentary could have been made based on that thing only, and it would have been quite fun to watch—just saying! I guess director Carlos Armella didn’t want to focus on that because he thought it would take attention away from something that actually matters: Rafa’s legendary career as a champion sportsman. And I am not blaming the director, if that’s really the case. But as a documentary, Rafa Marquez: El Capitan is just about okay. It’s a good one if you’re a Mexican football fan or a Barcelona supporter like me. I really liked the ending, though, where Rafa finishes things off with a yee-haw joke. I wish we could see that side of the man a little more!

Rafa Márquez: El capitán 2024 Movie Review

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