by Anthony Herring
Disclaimers: This review contains spoilers for Captain Marvel.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been going strong for almost eleven years now. We’ve seen a man suit up in high-tech armor. We’ve seen a man become not only a super soldier but the symbol of America. We’ve seen a high-powered god channel lightning through his comically large hammer. Heck, we’ve even seen a talking tree and raccoon travel across the universe, kicking butt and taking names. Needless to say, audiences have seen a lot of varied–and straight up Strange–characters as time went on.
Even after all these years, the MCU shows no signs of stopping. Last year alone, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp have raked in a total of $4 billion at the box office. Not only that, but these three films have introduced audiences to a plethora of new characters and locales, with Wakanda as a notable example. Now, from the looks of it, this year will be no exception.
That leads me to the newest installment of the MCU: Captain Marvel. Set in 1995, the film introduces the world to Carol Danvers, a woman who finds herself in the center of an intergalactic war between two alien races: the Kree and the Skrulls. The film was originally announced in October 2014 as part of the MCU’s Phase Three lineup, with Brie Larson cast as the titular character two years later.
A lot’s riding on this film, as Captain Marvel is the MCU’s first female-led film, along with the fact that Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, says that the character will be at the forefront of the franchise in the future.
A game of ‘Twister’
When asked about the film before its release, Kevin Feige had stated that the film will not be “your conventional origin story.” He was completely right and this aspect of the film worked entirely in its benefit. At the beginning of the film, we find Carol Danvers as a member of the Kree special forces unit known as the Starforce. However, while this has been happening, Carol has been experiencing these violent, yet surprisingly incoherent flashbacks that illustrated pivotal moments from her past. These flashbacks rear their head at several points during the film, and they were quite effective in detailing who Carol was before she found herself as a member of the Starforce.
Despite the wealth of visual storytelling from these flashbacks, they do not detail as much as I would’ve liked about Carol’s past. For instance, certain parts of them depict her as a child, but they were too brief to get me interested in her childhood. Since I’m on that topic, I would’ve liked to see more from her childhood to get an idea on why she made the choices that she did that would lead her into the woman she became.
These flashbacks also reveal certain twists and turns that I will not spoil here. Unfortunately, these twists were quite predictable, particularly one involving the villain, who was marketed as the fearsome Skrull known as Talos (played by Ben Mendelsohn). This twist revealed that Talos wasn’t actually the villain as previously believed. That role belonged to the person responsible for making Carol a member of the Starforce, Yon-Rogg (played by Jude Law). I found Yon-Rogg to very uncompelling as a character as he was quite boring in terms of writing and performance. On the other hand, Talos was far better, as the writing for him made his character far more sympathetic, and Mendelsohn’s performance was fun and nuanced.
Earth to Captain Marvel, come in Captain Marvel
The weakest aspect of the film was Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel herself, in both writing and performance. I found Carol’s character woefully uninteresting. While the flashbacks in the film helped to show Carol’s past and current struggles, she responds to these events in oddly nonchalant ways, which I thought was very strange since such problems should’ve had a profound impact on her character. Not only that, but Carol’s character arc isn’t as effective as it could’ve been. This is due to Carol as a character being mainly used as a boring pawn used by other people, and not as a unique individual who just happened to be taken advantage of but slowly grew aware of this as the movie progressed.
Sadly, Brie Larson’s performance didn’t help matters. Throughout the entire film, Larson’s acting primarily consisted of acting bored, slightly irritated, and slightly amused. Such a wide range of emotions didn’t bode well, as scenes where Carol was supposed to show intense emotions—such as when she found herself reunited with an old friend—came off as weak and uninspired. To make matters even worse, the moments in which Carol gives “witty quips” to her enemies are very awkward and unfunny due to the uninterested delivery of them.
The Fast and the Fury-ous
Not all is sour in the film, for the friendship depicted between Carol and a young Nick Fury (played by an impressively de-aged Samuel L. Jackson) is arguably the highlight of the film. Seeing Carol, a stoic member of the Starforce, and Fury, who was a more lighthearted agent of SHIELD at the time, play off each other is very entertaining to watch. This dynamic is made all the more interesting due to the impact that it had on the two characters themselves, particularly in their actions, which massively affect the MCU as a whole.
“I understood that reference”
Since ‘Captain Marvel’ is a part of the MCU, there was bound to be plenty of Easter eggs and references to the wider universe. I’m happy to report that this film delivered plenty and then some. I kid you not, there were a lot of easter eggs present in the film, with one at the very end that’ll put a large, childlike smile on your face. Speaking of which, there is an easter egg involving the late Stan Lee that will make fans of the film being referenced quite happy.
Featured Image: IMDb
While not one of the better installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ‘Captain Marvel’ provides an entertaining movie that will most definitely enliven audiences. Although the lead character is disappointingly ineffective in both writing and performance and the twists are predictable and wasted potential, the film is held up by a heartfelt tribute to Stan Lee, lovely chemistry between Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson, and numerous connections to the MCU as a whole.