‘Captain Marvel’ Review

At last, Marvel Studios’ first female led superhero film Captain Marvel has finally arrived. Brie Larson brings her Oscar winning acting talent to the role of Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel), in an origin film set in the ‘90s. I attended a screening the night before the film’s theatrical release with a packed auditorium. My anticipation for this movie was mild, if I am being honest. Avengers: Endgame releases next month, and we know Captain Marvel is going to survive her origin film.

Still, that’s not to say I didn’t go into the movie with an open mind and a bit of excitement for some fun. We know the character plays an important role in the universe moving forward (phase four and beyond), so I think Marvel’s intent was making a good movie, and adding yet another likeable, fan-favorite character to their universe. Well after letting Captain Marvel sit after one viewing, I can truthfully say that I am a fan of the character. This movie is an above-average fun action flick, with a surprising amount of heart that comes from its supporting characters.

Brie Larson steps into the lead role with so much confidence. It’s not her best performance, but she more than meets the physicality and emotional weight needed to play a character who isn’t sure of where she comes from or who she is. I wish her onscreen chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) and Jude Law (Yon-Rogg) were better. Both supporting actors give fine performances individually onscreen, with the material given, however the back and forth dialogue between each actor and Larson just didn’t hit like the filmmakers hopefully intended. No laugh once is fine, but multiple times speaks better writing.

The best thing about Captain Marvel is the antagonists (or should I say protagonists?). I figured Jude Law’s character would turn out to be the bad guy (maybe the forgettable marketing hinted at that), but I honestly wasn’t expecting much from the Skrulls. They turned out to be the heart of the film, led by the unrecognizable Ben Mendelsohn, who delivers on every cue as General Talos. Once the film reveals his true motives is when I felt emotionally connected to the film. Dare I say Mendelsohn steals the screen from Larson whenever the two are onscreen together!

As I stated earlier though, Captain Marvel is above average when it comes to Marvel Studio standards. We’ve seen them do origin films at a higher level, with better pacing and dialogue. What bothers me the most is how the film uses its side characters. I understand why Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is in the movie, as it takes place in the ‘90s and involves S.H.I.E.L.D., but why is he in the movie? There’s enough nostalgia to enjoy with the many pop culture references. In addition, I’m a big fan of Jude Law, and thought the character underserved an actor of his caliber. Its casting decisions like that which bother me (see my editorial on Benecio Del Toro working with Disney).

Finally, the film’s end battle was anything but compelling. The moment Carol Danvers realized her true powers, it was game over man. Perhaps the intent was to show how powerful of a force she could be against Thanos, even while he possess all six infinity stones. However, that comes at the expense of an action sequence that, aside from its visual effects, was all but great. Again, I get why Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) was in the film but why was he in the film?

All that aside, I’m looking forward to watching Captain Marvel a second time in theaters. I had enough fun and felt emotionally invested enough to call myself a fan of the character. The ‘90s setting took me back to a simpler time, where we weren’t so impatient and actually had to wait to watch a video on a computer screen. There’s plenty of familiar faces, and some new faces to deliver a worthy story for Marvel’s first female lead.

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