Movie Review: Captain Marvel – Does It Go Higher? Further? Faster?

Captain Marvel
March 8, 2019

Captain Marvel is the start of a new chapter for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s inevitable that we’re going to lose some of the major players at the conclusion of Avengers: End Game. Prepare yourself! Captain Marvel had the hard task of delivering the promise of an exciting future. So did it live up to the hype?

My short answer is yes and no. I’ll get into the pros and cons of Captain Marvel in a bit. Brie Larson is Captain Marvel/Vers/Carol Danvers in the first ever woman-led superhero film in the MCU universe. Long time coming, eh?

The cast includes Marvel staples, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson. Newcomers include Ben Mendelsohn as Talos/Keller, Jude Law as Yon-Rogg, Annette Bening as Supreme Intelligence/Dr. Wendy Lawson, Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, Djimon Hounsou as Korath, and Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva.  Lee Pace reprises his role as Ronan the Accuser, seen in previous MCU films as a minion of Thanos. Captain Marvel was directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck on a screenplay by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, and Geneva Robertson-Dworet.

A quick synopsis of the film, which has several tie ins to characters and storylines we’ve seen in previous MCU films: “Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Captain Marvel sidesteps the traditional origin-story template, and when it begins, Carol already has her powers. She’s left her earthly life behind to join an elite Kree military team called Starforce, led by Jude Law’s enigmatic commander. But before long, Carol finds herself back on Earth with new questions about her past. And she’s got a formidable enemy in the form of the Skrulls — the notorious Marvel baddies made all the more dangerous by their shape-shifting abilities. Ben Mendelsohn plays their leader Talos, who spearheads a Skrull invasion of Earth.”

Captain Marvel is the 21st film in the MCU franchise so I’m glad they decided to go a different route to the formulaic origin story we’re used to. Instead of having the all too familiar discovery of powers story that leads to an existential crisis by the main character, Captain Marvel shined by showing Larson, as Vers, ready to kick ass alongside Law’s Yon-Rogg in the first act. I’m a little tired of seeing superheroes who don’t want powers. In this regard, seeing Vers, a kickass, take names Kree character, was a nice break from all the brooding characters of the MCU.

©Marvel Studios 2019

And that’s where I’ll start with the pros of Captain Marvel. It was so nice seeing a character willingly heroic and never questioning her ability to get something done. I really enjoyed seeing an MCU character ready to kick some ass from the get-go. No movie-length long realization piece that we have often seen in other Marvel origin stories. Don’t get me wrong, those had a place in creating the universe, but 21 movies in, I want to see more badassery, less brooding.

Photo: Chuck Zlotnick, ©Marvel Studios 2019

But of course, you can’t just have all fight and no heart. And this is where Captain Marvel delivered. Whether it’s learning that the too cool for school Nick Fury wasn’t always the smooth-talking leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. we know today, and, somehow, like him even more for it.

Photo: Chuck Zlotnick  ©Marvel Studios 2019

Or seeing the friendship goals between best friends Danvers and Rambeau. I mean, talk about #bff goals. It’s not often we see such positive enforcement of female friendships and mentorship on-screen. Bening’s Dr. Lawson is another example of female mentorship and strength. Given, this is set in a superhero film but that doesn’t make it any less powerful. It was nice seeing three badass women pilot ships (alien and terrestrial) like no one’s business and make no apologies for it. And the inclusion of a possible future superhero in young Monica Rambeau, played brilliantly by Akira Akbar, was exciting. The MCU’s future looks bright.

Photo: Chuck Zlotnick ©Marvel Studios 2019

The story wasn’t perfect and at times was muddled, but it had a lot of heart which, if you can’t tell, is something I look for in a film.

Goose the Cat (AKA a Flerken) stole the show and my heart. Without Goose, I’d say Captain Marvel could’ve landed on the boring side, but the lovable creature added some laughs and a side to Fury we hadn’t seen before. So kudos to Goose!

©Marvel Studios 2019

With the highs of the movie comes some of the “ehh.” Overall, I wouldn’t say there was anything major that made me dislike the film, but I guess that’s the issue. It was a fun, average MCU film that sets up Avengers: End Game nicely. And you know what, that’s okay.

It broke new ground having Larson as Captain Marvel, but as a film, it wasn’t doing anything we haven’t seen before. The visual effects were on par with what we’ve seen, the action sequences were fun, but familiar. The 90s backdrop and music provided some nostalgic factors for those that grew up in that decade but didn’t overpower the film. The music soundtrack was not a standout like it was in Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok.

As far as the story goes, I really enjoyed Captain Marvel’s origin story. It wasn’t overly complicated, but it was full of empowerment. And for a movie that’s breaking new ground as the first ever woman-led film, it worked. Having a character like Captain Marvel learn about her past only made her stronger. With most comic book stories, sometimes the past is an obstacle, but here, the past shows her what she was always was meant to be. A hero. With or without superpowers and that is pretty powerful.

One of my favorite lines in the film comes from Danvers herself, “I have nothing to prove to you.” And maybe that’s how the MCU feels after 21 films in. They have nothing to prove besides giving us a good time.

Photo: Chuck Zlotnick ©Marvel Studios 2019

Final Thought:

I’d definitely recommend this film for what it is. It’s a popcorn blockbuster ushering a new chapter of the MCU that I can get on board with!

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