Captain Marvel Movie Review
A dope 90’s soundtrack, a super cool female lead, and Blockbuster Video – CAPTAIN MARVEL somehow knew all my tickle-me-happy trigger points as if it had been stalking me on Facebook. Now that obviously doesn’t equate to the greatest superhero film of all time. But it does make for another terrifically fun ride into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
If you aren’t keeping track, CAPTAIN MARVEL is movie number 21 within the MCU. And the first featuring a female superhero as the lead. She’s also perhaps the toughest, most powerful superhero to grace the MCU. And is supposedly the help the remaining Avengers need to conclude the upcoming AVENGERS: END GAME after half of the universe and Avengers were wiped out by Thanos in last year’s AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. Be sure to stick around for the credits in preparation.
CAPTAIN MARVEL rewinds time a bit (not literally) taking place in 1995 as an origin story of sorts. Vers or Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) has no memory of her past life but finds herself in the center of a war between two alien races. The battle of Kree vs. Skrulls leads Danvers to planet Earth where she meets a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson impressively digitalized as a young man). The two quickly recognize their team chemistry and become a somewhat unlikely comedic buddy cop movie. They attempt to piece together clues while fighting the shapeshifting Skrulls who look like a bad Star Trek character when they aren’t posing as old ladies.
How does CAPTAIN MARVEL compare to the other recent DC female led superhero film? I put it on equal footing with, if not better than, WONDER WOMAN. That might seem like a glowing review but mind you, I did not think as highly of WONDER WOMAN, finding it to be simply okay. CAPTAIN MARVEL is both shorter (124 minutes) and funnier, which are two pros in my book.
To be absolutely clear, my criticism is not the absurd, insecure voice that wants to keep women in their place and out of the “guy” films, which I believe is a very small group of people. On the contrary, the greatest thing going for CAPTAIN MARVEL is the fact that it is female driven with a brilliant lead character performed with incredible strength and charisma by Brie Larson. In fact, it’s all the female power moments that had me quietly cheering as I think about my five-year-old daughter loving every moment of Carol Danvers getting back up and demolishing bad guys. It’s a great inspiration for half the population who is just recently getting closer, but still struggling to having an equal voice in our world. For this, I applaud CAPTAIN MARVEL and am admittedly giving it some overriding bonus points for its female perspective. My criticism lies with the somewhat pedestrian plot line and mediocre, if not sometimes forgettable action sequences.
Ultimately, CAPTAIN MARVEL is a fairly easy story without many surprises. Every step in the story is the logical conclusion that we’ve seen done similarly by everything else before it. Of course, it’s unfortunate that nearly all the superhero movies before it have been male-dominated. Every conclusion or twist is exactly what you expect it will be. But the surprise is simply how enjoyable the ride becomes. Writer and director team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who have worked together on indie films such as HALF NELSON and IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY, do a wonderful job on the little moments. They create character and humor capitalizing on hero moments of female empowerment while taking jabs at the absurdity of the male expectation within the female gender. That might sounds a little too agenda-driven and tiresome, but Boden and Fleck make their points with a joyful kick to the pants, which feels refreshing rather than heavy-handed, while staying on point as a superhero movie in the MCU.
Since CAPTAIN MARVEL is sort of a prequel, it does fall into a trap of sometimes commenting too much on what an audience already knows in the future. I call this the Star Wars prequel syndrome. While that may offer a cheap thrill for a faithful audience, it ultimate doesn’t serve much of a purpose in the film.
Still, Marvel manages to make the predictable plotting an easily enjoyable ride. Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, and Annette Bening deliver as supporting characters and some memorable fan favorites show up as well. Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson have great chemistry and the strong female perspective serves as powerful inspiration with more than a couple of hero moments. But the 90’s nostalgia might be the truest hero of the film, forgiving some of the film’s shortcomings by providing much of the humor and all of the alternative rockin’ soundtrack. And I can’t forget Goose the Cat, who’s such a good boy! Yes he is!