Movie Review: Captain Marvel
March 9, 2019
Higher, further, faster, baby. The most powerful Marvel Cinematic Universe hero has arrived, and she’s here in the form of a thrilling, witty, intergalactic 90’s nostalgia dream.
The 21st film in the MCU’s lineup and the first led solely by a woman, Captain Marvel tells the origin story of its titular hero, Carol Danvers, played by Oscar-winner Brie Larson. Specifically, viewers meet, for the first time, the person who was on the receiving end of that signal Nick Fury sent out in the infamous Avengers: Infinity War post-credits scene.
Set in the ’90s, the film first introduces Danvers as “Vers,” a Kree warrior stuck in the middle of a war between her own alien race living on the planet Hala and a race of alien shapeshifters known as Skrulls. All the while, Danvers has flashes of a past life on Earth as a pilot for the United States Air Force.
When Danvers finds herself back on Earth, she sets out to complete a mission that will unravel her life before Hala and change everything.
The pressure to succeed that is naturally placed on any MCU movie that follows up the behemoth Infinity War is immense. Additionally, any movie that has the task of introducing a hero for the very first time, which has not happened in the MCU since Doctor Strange in 2016, is up for a challenge.
Captain Marvel may not be Marvel’s most exciting movie to date, but nonetheless, it’s a well-done, unique origin story that gives a thrilling introduction to the character who could possibly become the new face of the MCU.
The film’s most endearing strength is its multifaceted nostalgia geared toward “90’s babies” and longtime Marvel fans alike.
Those who grew up in the ’90s will be enthralled by scenes of Blockbuster stores, pagers and VHS tapes, all accompanied by a few of the decade’s musical hits.
Diehard Marvel fans will find giddy joy in the big-screen return of fan-favorite characters like Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who has still been around on the television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. since 2013, as well as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who hasn’t made an MCU appearance this significant since Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014.
Amidst premature claims that Larson would be a poor, emotionless fit for Danvers, she ultimately proves to be just the opposite.
Larson approaches the role with a satisfying blend of coolness, compassion and delightful dry wit. Her scenes as Captain Marvel are as powerful as expected, but it’s her scenes as simply Carol Danvers that resonate the most. She secures herself as one of the most relatable Marvel heroes to date.
As with any new character that is introduced, Larson still has some work to do to make Captain Marvel as beloved as the heroes that have come before her.
All in all, though, Captain Marvel proves that Danvers has that potential. Only time will tell, and with the character set to appear in Avengers: Endgame in April, that time is quickly approaching.
A comic book film does not work without an equally enjoyable supporting cast around its titular hero, and Captain Marvel has just that.
Viewers get to see a more playful side of Fury during his early days at S.H.I.E.L.D. that offers a fun contrast from the fierce, no-nonsense Fury of previous films.
He and Danvers have a delightful team chemistry that winds up being an unexpected highlight of the film.
Coulson’s return to the big screen, this time as a S.H.I.E.L.D. newcomer, is brief but endearing, given that he became such a beloved character in the early days of the MCU that an entire show was created to bring him back to life following an immense outcry from fans (#CoulsonLives).
Captain Marvel’s new characters are satisfying additions to the MCU’s ranks as well, particularly highlighted by strong, emotional performances from Ben Mendelsohn as Skrull leader Talos and Lashana Lynch as Danvers’ best friend Maria Rambeau.
In addition, Jude Law gives a solid, arrogant portrayal of Kree Starforce commander Yon-Rogg.
The film’s real showstopper comes in the form of its smallest, furriest character, namely Goose the cat. You’ll have to see this one for yourself.
Captain Marvel’s action scenes are a thrilling blend of fast-paced fights on a 1990s, limited-technology Earth and jaw-dropping battles in space.
When Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said last fall that Captain Marvel would be the MCU’s most powerful hero, he certainly wasn’t kidding. Her power-set makes for some of the movie’s most stunning visuals.
The biggest flaw of Captain Marvel is that it could be considered a little lackluster, given the state of the MCU at this point, which has opened almost every door imaginable from gods to magic to other galaxies to a creature who can wipe out half of the universe with the snap of his fingers.
The stakes in this film are certainly not as high as the stakes of other films, however, it fits within its context as an origin story, with a feeling more along the lines of Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor and Iron Man.
Danvers will certainly need more screen time in future films for fans to develop a real connection with the character, but this is the same challenge that characters like Captain America and Thor faced before becoming household names. Nonetheless, she’s on her way there.
All in all, Captain Marvel is a must-see. It’s action-packed, it’s full of sarcastic humor and it’s an enjoyable introduction to a character who is likely going to have a longstanding impact on the state of Marvel down the line (and certainly an impact on Endgame).
The film is flawed. It’s not Marvel’s best, but it’s worthy to be among the MCU’s lineup of films.