- Damien Francis
Directed: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
M: Action Violence
Captain Marvel is the newest iteration into the MCU. As not only the 21st film in the behemoth franchise, but also the first solo female-led superhero film in the same franchise it has a lot of expectations to fill. There is a lot to unpack about this movie, with so many beats and developments, it has all the makings of a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Captain Marvel is an origin film of sorts as we follow Carol Danvers as she tries to understand who she is and where she’s from while caught between a war between the Kree (a race of mostly blue aliens who we have seen in other Marvel films) and the Skrulls (who are shapeshifting aliens in their first introduction into the MCU).
Its full of sci-fi visuals, 90’s references, bopping beats, entertaining action and a decent story.
Brie Larson plays the titular character and she really dives into the role of an exceptional warrior, trying to figure out who she is while also trying to stop a war. Her character is confident, but also burdened by her lack of memories about who she was before joining the Kree empire. She holds her own as both a woman, but also as an individual, trying to find out who she is, was, or could be. Her main desires and drives in the movie are put to the test and at the end she comes out as a more interesting individual.
Ben Mendelsohn is definitely the MVP in the film apart from Captain Marvel herself. He plays his character, Talos, with a lot of layers and nuance. Despite being a character who can shapeshift, there is more to him than what appears on the surface. His character is also a brilliant introduction to the entire race of Skrulls and who they are as a people.
Samuel L. Jackson is once again portraying Nick Fury, but the younger version before he became the director. His involvement in the film is an interesting way to add more layers to his character as he appears in later movies and partly why he is like the way we have seen him. His banter with Captain Marvel is also a standout feature.
Jude Law is a nice addition as a lesser known character, Yon-Rogg, but his role is reduced somewhat leaving us wanting a bit more from his character after having seen so many of the others be given the same care.
Lashana Lynch plays the best friend of Captain Marvel, Maria Rambeau, who plays an important role related to Carol’s past. Her friendship feels real, relatable and something lacking in modern Hollywood of good female friendships.
The story takes us in several different directions as Captain Marvel is tasked with hunting down Skrulls as part of the elite unit of Kree warriors. It changes gears a few times, as Captain Marvel herself begins to change too and question things she thought she already knew. The story feels reminiscent of the Bourne Identity as both characters are on a journey to find out who they were, to influence who they are now. Each of the story directions are strong in their own right, but feel a little disjointed at times.
The villain in the film is not as clear cut initially, leading us to wonder who exactly is on the right side and who is on the wrong side. When the villain is finally revealed it is a bit lacklustre as they don’t feel as compelling a character compared to the rest. They’re more of a barrier and less of a direct antagonist. The final confrontation is cool but feels a bit of a letdown.
The action in the movie is impressive, vibrant, colourful and full of energy. The action, much like the 90’s action films that inspired it, hardly slows down and plays into a real kinetic movement of sorts, blending sci-fi visuals, awesome powers and close quarters combat into quick paced scenes. There are a couple of moments where the action is a bit too fast to see and its hard to tell what happened. Or the visuals are a bit too bright, which makes it hard to focus on what is going on. But these are only very minor issues.
Marvel once again proves they know their stuff with the clever humour. There are quite a few laugh out loud scenes with either subtle motion or great jokes. Its not a comedy, but the humour is well placed to add that lovely flavour to characters and situations.
There are quite a few clever twists throughout the movie, and these do come as a nice surprise to what was expected a pretty easy paint by numbers story. These changes in direction are important moments for Carol Danvers, to figure out who she is and who she wants to be.
Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck provide a much-needed deft touch for the film, giving Captain Marvel her own voice and a chance to stand on her own two feet. Its clear how they wanted to introduce her and tell the audience who is this Captain Marvel, which is why by the end, you feel like you’ve known her all along.
The soundtrack is also a highlight. While not as good as the Guardians films, the 90’s nostalgic music are still great choices to shine an extra light onto specific scenes.
There are a few things which do drag the movie down a bit. The sequences on Earth slow the film down quite a bit and it isn’t until about halfway through when the pace begins to pick back up. There is a lot of important information and character development on Earth, but the first half is hampered by a slower pace than what it presented at the beginning. You almost wish you could go back to space and get back to having a cool intergalactic adventure. This is a similar issue faced in the first and second Thor film, where cosmic characters arriving on Earth feels like a drag.
There is also a lack of threat towards Captain Marvel as she is rarely seen facing an opponent which provides a real danger to her. This is evident, particularly towards the end, where she becomes nigh unstoppable. The only times we see her injured of any sort are in flashbacks.
There is also a lovely tribute to Stan Lee at the beginning of the movie which is sure to bring a tear to many an eye.
The movie has two post-credits scenes. One which holds a lot of potential for Avengers: Endgame and the other is both cute and funny.
Captain Marvel is a film that features the first solo female hero and rather than bashing you on the head with that knowledge, it simply wants to tell you its own story and what makes Carol Danvers different to the vast array of other superheroes in the Marvel pantheon. What makes her different isn’t just that she’s a woman, but that she is a person in her own right.
Its big, bright and such a wild, fun ride. Captain Marvel is a definite watch on the big screen, that is sure to entertain and leave you looking forward to more.
Marvel have once more, done it again.
8 stars out of 10.