Movie Review: Captain Marvel

There is a lot of excitement for Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie. Is it marvelous or mediocre?

While this is the 21st installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is plenty of reason to be excited for Captain Marvel. It’s the first MCU movie with a female lead, something many fans have been waiting for a long time to see. Also, this is the last Marvel movie before Avengers: End Game, the follow-up to last year’s hugely successful Avengers: Infinity War, and many people are assuming Captain Marvel will play a big role in that film. So does the movie live up to the hype?

Captain Marvel is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and stars Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, and Jude Law. The film takes place in the 1990s (which chronologically puts it before every MCU film besides Captain America: The First Avenger). The film follows Vers (Larson), a member of the alien race known as the Kree. Vers has unique powers and serves on the Kree Starforce under Von-Rogg (Law), but she has lost all her memories before joining the Starforce. When a Starforce mission goes awry, she is captured by the Skrulls, an enemy alien race, and their leader Talos (Mendelsohn). After escaping the clutches of her captors, Vers crash-lands on Earth and meets Nick Fury (Jackson). Throughout the rest of the film, Vers, along with Fury and others, learns more about her mysterious past, including her real name,  Carol Danvers, and the feud between the Kree and the Skrull.

There is plenty to like about this movie. The best part of Captain Marvel is the story. One of my biggest, recurring complaints about Marvel movies is how formulaic their stories feel. With small variations here and there, something tragic happens to the hero, they’re gifted with or discover extraordinary powers, they learn what it means to be a hero, and in the end they must overcome an often forgettable villain. Captain Marvel does not follow this formula. Without giving away too much, the first half of the movie is almost entirely devoted to uncovering Danver’s past and the second half is the fallout of her realizing who she is. While the film still feels like a Marvel film, the different and more nuanced storyline was much more engaging and refreshing than the typical “origin-story” mold.  

Second, I think many of the actors did a good job in their respective roles. I am a big Nick Fury fan and Samuel L. Jackson again plays him wonderfully, this time as a younger, less experienced version of the character. Also, Ben Mendelsohn does a really good job as the Skrull leader Talos and the dynamic between Jackson and Mendelsohn is really good. Finally, Captain Marvel is just a cool character with cool powers. There is an awesome scene in the trailer where Captain Marvel is flying in space and blowing up alien ships and that sequence is even more epic when you see it on the big screen.

Now for some of the things I didn’t like. The first half of the movie felt a little slow. As I said earlier, I really liked the overall story of the movie, but the pacing in the first half could have been better. There is a really important scene that happens about halfway through the movie and until then the movie felt like it dragged a little. However, I thought the pacing and excitement really picked up after this scene. Second and very surprisingly to me, I thought Brie Larson felt stiff as Captain Marvel. I like a lot of Larson’s previous work, but her performance here didn’t do it for me. The movie sets up Captain Marvel as a humorous and emotional character, but some of Larson’s movements and expressions felt bland or half-hearted. I am interested for her to reprise the role in future films because I think she is a really good actress. But in this particular movie, I thought she could have been better. Third, there were parts of the film where the dialogue felt clunky and didn’t flow. Lastly, there is a scene in the beginning of the movie where a group of Skrulls find a way to access Captain Marvel’s memories and are playing them back to try and get information from her past. While doing so, one of the Skrulls is narrating the playback, saying things like “fast forward a little” or “go back two seconds”. This is scene is so confusing and so hard to follow, I have no idea how it made it into the final cut.  

Overall, Captain Marvel is a fun and enjoyable time at the movies. The film is by no means perfect and is not on the same level as some of the better MCU movies, such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Panther, or Iron Man. However, the movie’s story is creative, fresh, and I walked out of the theater wanting to see more of the character. And it won’t be long before we do see more of Captain Marvel, as she will appear in Avengers: Endgame, which releases in theaters April 26th, 2019.

Rating: 6 Out Of 10

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