‘Captain Marvel’ Movie Review: Unapologetically Badass!
Marvel Studio’s first female-led superhero movie is now playing, and I have oh so many thoughts.
Captain Marvel features the first ever female superhero solo movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). (Poor Black Widow) It’s also a crucial movie when it comes to the ultimate conclusion of the massive 10-year long storylines set up by the MCU, revealed in Avengers: Infinity War, and (hopefully) will be concluded in Avengers: Endgame.
It’s a lot riding on Captain Marvel’s shoulders. So does it hold up? Does Captain Marvel live up to the hype that it needs to build in order for us to successfully go into Endgame? Well, given that I was basically screaming by the time the mid-credits scene came on, I’d like to think so.
Captain Marvel tells the story of, well— Captain Marvel— an officer of the Kree Space Force, with a mysterious past. After a mission that goes wrong, Marvel is separated from her unit and crash lands onto Earth. In 1995. That’s right, Captain Marvel pre-dates all of the current MCU heroes, most of whom became heroes 2008 and after, with Iron Man being the first. Captain America was the first back during World War II, but he got frozen in ice for 70 years, so he didn’t really superhero a lot during that time.
Her time on Earth causes Marvel to discover parts of her past that she didn’t know, and aspects of her current life are brought into question as she discovers her purpose and destiny, in the middle of an intergalactic war that could possibly threaten Earth as well.
Captain Marvel is not your typical origin story, even more so when you consider the Marvel formula. Although the Marvel brand is very apparent here, with the jokes and brightness and happy go lucky vibes all around. The movie is incredibly effective in depicting an origin story that is already mid-swing; in the sense that the story didn’t begin when the movie began. It was already in motion, and we the audiences, experience it through Captain Marvel’s eyes, as she pieces things together.
At its heart, Captain Marvel works more like a superhero buddy cop movie than anything else. It’s a concept that we’ve seen flirted with in some other Marvel movies, without getting too deep into it. Captain Marvel, a.k.a. Carol Danvers, (Brie Larson) is discovered on Earth by a super young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who joins her on her journey to figure out who she is. Jackson and Larson’s chemistry with one another is incredible, and unlike anything that the MCU has presented thus far.
Jackson’s performance as a younger Fury, complete with de-aging effect, is insanely nostalgic as you get a Jackson that is (seemingly) in his prime, and seeing him brings back all of the genuine 90s movie nostalgia that cinephiles will love. It’s
Larson is pitch perfect as Captain Marvel and Carol Danvers. The depiction of the MCU’s first female superhero does something that I didn’t think needed to be done until I saw this movie. The character spends most of her time with a scowl, really pissed off and completely tough as nails. This is in line with the story of a hero who doesn’t know who she is, and the more she finds out, the more she has to come to terms with. So obviously she’s not going to be charming or all smiles all the time. And when you think about it, isn’t that the template for most male superheroes anyways?
The arrogant, cocky, brash and aggressive hero is basically all of our favorite male heroes. Iron Man, Starlord, Dr. Strange, or even if we head out of the purview of the MCU as a whole–Wolverine, Blade and so many more don’t ever have to rely on being charming or likable. Yet, some of the biggest criticism against Captain Marvel is that the character doesn’t smile or isn’t charming?!
So I absolutely loved that Larson’s depiction and the directors’ choice was for Captain Marvel to be unapologetically angry and pissed off when the story calls for it. But even without that, Larson is still actually super charming and she performs amazingly. Her scenes with Jackson are some of the best in the movie, and her relationship with Danvers’ best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) provides the emotional depth that the character needs. Even more so are her scenes with the child actress Akira Akbar’s character Monica Rambeau. (Who we might see more of in the coming years. wink wink)
The biggest surprise of Captain Marvel has to be Ben Mendelsohn playing Talos, the big alien Skrull with whose people the Kree are at war. After a string of playing supposedly menacing bad guys in Rogue One and Robin Hood, Mendelsohn finally gives a performance that will be talked about for years! (Or maybe a while.)
OK, let’s get to the downsides of this awesome movie. Captain Marvel isn’t without its flaws. There is something missing when it comes to portraying the heart of the character, but that could be chalked up to the non-non-linear storytelling. The story as a whole is almost very predictable, and besides the actual hero’s portrayal, the plot beats feel very familiar without anything to really surprise us.
Clark Gregg also returns in Captain Marvel as SHIELD Agent Greg Coulson, who is also de-aged, playing a rookie partner to Fury. His inclusion felt completely unnecessary as he is given almost nothing to do in the entire movie. Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck show their inexperience with such big-budget action spectaculars as some of the bigger fight scenes are hard to watch and even harder to keep track of.
Captain Marvel isn’t a perfect movie, nor is it even really in my list of best MCU movies to date. But it has a lot of moments that are immensely fun, with a character that is unlike any that we’ve yet to see in the MCU (and not just because she’s a girl). The performances are all top-notch, with some incredible actors who all genuinely seem to be having a good time.
Captain Marvel is a must watch given what it sets up in Avengers: Endgame, but even without that, it’s a fun experience and a pretty good movie on its own.