Here we are. The first Marvel Cinematic Universe film since Ant-Man and the Wasp last July and the only release before Avengers: Endgame comes out next month. If you are emotionally and financially invested in the 10 plus years of the saga of Marvel superhero films, you’re going to see Captain Marvel no matter what. That means this is your official warning to stop reading, because this review may contain spoilers and ruin your first viewing of Captain Marvel.
Again, possible SPOILERS ahead.
Now that you’ve made it this far, let’s dive in to Marvel’s 21st entry into the MCU.
Captain Marvel is the origin story of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson)... I mean, Vers – as her Kree counterparts have renamed her – who ends up on Hala, the home planet of a warrior-hero race, the Kree. Vers has no memory of who she was before she was adopted by the Kree, only flashbacks in her dreams of people she may have known in a previous life.
Hala is ruled by a sentient, artificial intelligence known as the Supreme Intelligence, who has tasked Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), a Kree special forces leader, with training Vers on how to control the powers the Supreme Intelligence has given her. Vers is sent on a mission with Yon-Rogg and other Kree warriors to locate one of their spies before the Skrulls, a shape-shifting alien race that has been at war with Kree for years, gets to him first. While on the mission, Vers is captured by the Skrulls, who then use a machine to extract information from memories buried deep in her mind. She eventually escapes, blows up their ship, crash lands on planet C-53, otherwise known as Earth, and spends the rest of the film trying to stop the Skrulls from going after whatever it is they were looking for in her head, while also trying to discover who she really is.
I saw Captain Marvel during its Thursday night premiere. This was a film that had soaring expectations attached, and I couldn’t wait to watch it with my friends. Normally, when I leave a Marvel movie, there’s a sense of satisfaction. But when the lights turned on after this one, something just didn’t feel right. There was nothing horrible about the movie, but the mood in the theater seemed off. I think part of that was due to most of the jokes not landing with the audience in my showing, and it didn’t really feel like the film blew anyone away. Still, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why Captain Marvel didn’t work for me.
The feeling lingered with me for a couple of days. To put my mind at ease, I decided to see the film again and look at it through a different lens (pun intended). Instead of thinking of it as the hype beast that it is, though, I went into the second viewing of Captain Marvel as just another entry into the MCU. I put certain facts to the back of my mind (first Marvel film in eight months, End Game is right around the corner, Captain Marvel is supposedly one of the strongest characters in the Marvel universe). And you know what? It worked.
Besides introducing us to Carol Danvers, a couple of her close friends from her past, and a digitally-enhanced and youthful Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Captain Marvel is exactly what the majority of the other MCU films are: a single ingredient that, once it’s put together with a few others, leads to a better, more delicious dish. Although the story is right on target with other superhero films, it unfortunately has a weaker script than its predecessors. Much of the dialogue was predictable, and the delivery of a few lines didn’t quite hit as the writers intended (“My name is CAROL!”).
The writing and directing team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck did not bring us into a new world full of fresh and intriguing characters like Black Panther did. What we do get is a solid buddy film between Danvers and Fury. The characters play well off of each other; Larson and Jackson’s natural chemistry is on full display when they have scenes together. Brie Larson is absolutely believable as a superhero and does as much as she can with a weak script, and the special effects and action scenes are up to par with what we have come to expect from a Marvel production. We even get introduced to a cat named Goose, who quite honestly ends up stealing the movie at the end.
Captain Marvel is not a game-changing film in terms of story, characters, or visual effects. By introducing their first female-led superhero movie, Marvel/Disney is convincing Hollywood that diversity is good thing and can lead to untold riches. All you have to do is look at the success stories of the Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman and last summer’s romantic comedy hit Crazy Rich Asians as examples of how diversity is a positive addition to major films. As of writing this review, Captain Marvel has already grossed over $500 million from the international box office. It seems that it will easily earn over $1 billion, and may even outgross the massively successful Black Panther.
Recommend: As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, you’re going to see Captain Marvel because of how far along you’ve come on the journey that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. My suggestion is to go into it the way I did during my second viewing: approach it as just another entry in a long line of very successful and entertaining movies. If you do this, I guarantee you will have a much more positive view on this movie.