Movie Review: Captain Marvel
Rating: 3 Stars
My first encounter with Captain Marvel was in Avengers: Endgame, where she didn’t exactly strike a chord with me due to her nonchalant disposition. Thanos had wiped out half the universe and Captain Marvel arrived on scene seemingly bothered that she had to be called in to take care of the universe’s most disastrous crisis until Marvel writers can dig up another one more sizable (next time will it be the entire universe?).
In her solo movie, Carol Danvers is a lot more approachable. She oozes with self-confidence that borders on the same ego-centric self-aggrandizement that plagued Tony Stark. Danvers, known through most of the film as Vers, is more approachable and light-hearted than Stark.
Captain Marvel is the ever so affluent origin story that Marvel has capitalized on with its assembly line of IP. I’d relish in the opportunity to be Captain Negative and tell you that Marvel somehow made a bad movie, but then I’d be kidding you and this review might as well be on the Onion. Age of Ultron was the last Marvel movie I was unenthused by.
Full disclosure, I had set low expectations for Captain Marvel, foolishly. As I stated, she didn’t exactly win me over with her brooding personality in Endgame. Once Captain Marvel settles into its natural groove of storytelling and superhero action set pieces, I felt right at home.
Vers (Brie Larson) has memories of a past life that an alien race known as the Skrulls want to access. Vers envisions that she was nearly killed by the Skrulls and that the Kree saved her and allowed her to harness a power of energy beams that she can shoot from her hands. Skrulls is a fantastic name for an alien race that are known terrorists, the Tom Clancy disciples are somewhere in underground bunkers seething with jealousy.
Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) is her commander and mentor. Their task is to keep the Skrulls from gaining access to technology that would allow the Skrulls to wipe out the Kree and others. The Skrulls ambush and capture Vers, but she fights out of a Krull ship and crash lands on Earth where she is met by a younger Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) in the ’90s.
Vers and Fury buddy up as the Skrulls continue to track Vers down. Vers uncovers the truth of her past and the film turns the gears up for an action-filled final act. Does this sound like a Marvel origin story to you? Exposition. Self-discovery. Fighting and action.
The theme of women empowerment was expected to be explored in this film and it no doubt is present in key segments of Danvers’ growth. Danvers is seen through her youth being told by boys and men that she’s not cut out to drive a go-cart, or that she can’t be an air force pilot. While men may watch these scenes and tell themselves, that’s not my values and what I stand for, it is an indisputable fact that the world has been like this and continues to still do to some varying degrees. You can’t say it’s not accurate that especially a few decades ago, women weren’t seen as fighter pilots or race car drivers.
But minimizing the sentiments of the film’s dialogue, imagery, and theme to just being a film about women’s empowerment would discount much of the story. Captain Marvel is a film that warns about the control and flow of information. If we accept what we’re told we are and accept the limitations on what we can do, we may never reach our true potential. While that message is geared towards young women in this film, it’s a universal message to anyone that’s discouraged.
Carol Danvers is quite possibly the simplest of the Marvel Universe’s characters thus far. Her origin story more aligns with one like Superman’s. Their power is nearly infinite, but they fight on the side of the oppressed because they believe it is the right thing to do. Danvers isn’t faced with the complex moral quandaries that Captain America and Iron Man have faced; she probably will in the future. One thing Captain Marvel didn’t approach that most Marvel films do is the aspect of familial relationships. Wouldn’t be surprised to see that explored in a future film.
As far as the action and cinematics are concerned, there isn’t much to be seen that you haven’t seen from an MCU action set piece already. As seen in the trailer, Danvers does fight an old lady inside a train. The film does air on the side of goofiness in its action and dialogue at times. There’s the usual Marvel wit and snark. There’s a mother-flerken cat that wins big in the comedic relief department
Samuel Jackson is delightful as he never fails to deliver a memorable performance. The same praise can be said for Jude Law, an underrated performer in his own right.
What I will say as a semi-criticism, or really to quantify why I didn’t give Captain Marvel a rating above 3 stars is that the film didn’t really do anything innovative. Nor did Captain Marvel invest me in its story enough to significantly move me. I appreciate Captain Marvel for the story it told and for being yet another entertaining Marvel film. My hope would be that in future sequels, which I suspect are being scripted and storyboarded as I write this, that there are more chances taken with the Captain Marvel character and the stories told within her adventures.