For the record, that opening featuring all the Stan Lee cameos and the “Thank You Stan” totally made me cry. And I’m not ashamed of that! Ok, now on to your regularly scheduled Captain Marvel review.
Marvel hasn’t been the best when it’s come to its female characters. Black Widow has been around since Iron Man 2 yet has only been a supporting role. Wasp got a co-lead in a film, but the film itself (in my opinion) was not that good. Other characters like Valkyrie, Scarlet Witch, Hela, and others had times to shine, but few truly soared to the top. And so here we are, 20+ films later and we have Captain Marvel leading a film on her own. So, did she make a mark in the industry? Kind of. But not in the way you might expect.
If you come into this film expecting a typical origin story film (like I have seen some people say it was), you’re going to be surprised. There are a lot of twists and turns in Captain Marvel that will make you happy as it goes beyond the standard “person gets powers and finds themselves in an awkward situation having to fix everything.” For the most part, that’s not what happens here.
We meet Carol Danvers on the Kree homeworld of Hala, and she goes by Veers. She’s a part of a covert ops group called Starforce (great name!) alongside several other Kree, including her trainer Yon-Rogg, Minerva, Korath, and others. After trying to complete a mission against their sworn enemies, the Skrulls, Carol/Veers finds herself captured. She soon escapes and crash lands (literally) on Earth, where she meets Nick Fury, and fights to not only stop the Skrulls but find out what her connection is to this planet.
Yes, that does sound like a typical origin story in a way. But how it’s played makes it different from other films, including Thor, who had a somewhat similar experience except that he lost his powers.
I don’t want to dive too deep into the plot, because there are some twists that will get ruined if I do. But I will say that it plays on the tropes of origin stories and has some fun with them. As well as being a part of the ’90s and showing off everything that was great about that decade (there’s a Blockbuster AND a Game Boy – I rest my case).
The film truly shines when the supporting cast is together and throwing witty banter at each other. Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson have a great rapport, and their scenes together are honestly pure magic. Sam Jackson has his biggest role in the MCU so far, and he performs beautifully as the younger and not quite as paranoid Fury. Who is apparently the biggest cat lover around…I’m just saying.
And yes, Clark Gregg is back as Phil Coulson, and they build upon the bond that he and Fury will have in later films and TV series.
Others who shine in the film include Lashana Lynch, who plays Carol’s best friend Maria Lambeau, and then Akira Akbar who plays Monica Lambeau, Maria’s daughter and the future hero Photon. Ben Mendelson kills it as the Skrull leader Telos, and Jude Law does a fair job as Yon-Rogg, who has more layers than he lets on at first.
At this point, you’re likely thinking, “Why doesn’t he mention Brie Larson?” And the answer is that I wanted to save a spot for her, because kind of ironically…Brie was at her best when people were around her.
I want you to think about any major Marvel character who has had a major role in one of the films. Male or female. There are scenes where the actor or actress truly shows off their acting chops and proves why they have that role. For Brie Larson as Carol…she honestly didn’t have that for me.
Don’t get me wrong! Brie was more than competent as Carol, showing off her confidence, her witty side, her strength of character and more. But at times, it felt like a hollow performance. Her best scenes for me was when she was with Fury, or Yon-Rogg, or the Skrulls, or Maria, or a hilarious scene with Minerva, and so on and so forth. She was kind of defined by the ensemble when it should be the other way around.
And before someone says, “He hates women!” First, grow up. Second, I LOVED Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow before the odd Hulk romance which betrayed the character. Evangeline Lilly is great as Hope Van Dyne, Zoe Saldana is amazing as Gamora and Tessa Thompson KILLED IT as Valkyrie in Thor Ragnarok. But the difference between them and Brie is that they all shined OUTSIDE of being near the main character, which made them even greater. Brie didn’t do that for me, she didn’t have a solo scene that defined her character that much. And that’s my opinion on the matter and mine alone.
Ironically, the MVPs for the film for me were the Skrulls. Not just Ben Mendelson, but all of them. There were a lot of great nods to the comics, including their shape-shifting abilities, and yet, they were also given time to truly form as characters, especially Telos. Which is something Marvel forgets to do at times. And yeah, there’s a lot of comedy that goes with the shapeshifting.
Ah, but what would Captain Marvel review be without talking about the comedy of the Marvel film? Yes, there is a comedy, and yes, at times it is too much. But I’ll give the film credit, they play it off well. However, at times they get a little to “nudge nudge” in terms of canon and how to defy expectations. Goose. That’s all I’m saying.
Oh, and without getting into spoilers, if you think that what happens with Goose is great, but what Aquaman did with Toppo the Octopus is bad? You’re part of the problem.
Special props though to both the SFX team and the costume designers. The Kree, Carol, the Skrulls, the Supreme Intelligence and more were all done rather epically. And when Carol gets her suit, you can’t help but smile.
Aside from my thoughts on Brie Larson (again, she was good in the role, just not great in my mind), the other major faults with Captain Marvel lie in the pace of it. The beginning and ending are intense and quick. But then in the middle, it really drags on at times, and it almost hurts one of the big twists in the movie. Also, they made some questionable decisions in regards to a key piece of Marvel Cinematic Universe history and how it ties into the plot.
Still, for all its faults, Captain Marvel is a very solid film. It’s not the best one out there, and I wouldn’t even go and say that it helps “breaks boundaries” and all of that. But it never really needed to, that was the pressure media and news outlets put on it. You should go to a Marvel movie to enjoy it, and in that regard, Captain Marvel soars.
Captain Marvel Review
While not the best Marvel film ever, Captain Marvel brings an important hero to the fold in a big way. And its strengths outweigh its weaknesses more often than not.