Despite how powerful she is, Captain Marvel was never a well-known hero. She wasn’t in the A-tier of heroes such as Captain America or Spider-Man. The latest Marvel Studios Phase Three entry stars Brie Larson as the titular hero and she couldn’t have been more needed than now.
(This review is spoiler-free)
Captain Marvel is set in 1995, fifty-three years after Captain America went into the ice. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), a Kree warrior battling amnesia, actually falls to Earth after escaping the Skrulls. With the help of a younger Nicholas Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the intergalactic soldier becomes a protector of the Earth as it falls at the center of a galactic conflict between two alien worlds.
Starting off with the intergalactic war that the amnesiac Carol Danvers fights on the side of the Kree, a race of noble warrior heroes, fighting against the shape-shifting Skrulls. The actual plot of the story surrounds Danvers’ haunting memory flashes of her unknown past and the origins of her abilities. The beginning action shots were slow but helps set up the history of the conflict so it’s alright to sit through. The action and comedy really picks up when Danvers literally falls to Earth, crashing through a Blockbuster Video (RIP to Blockbuster).
She meets the younger Nick Fury, who is a paper pusher at this point of his career and doesn’t believe in the superhuman, who goes with his gut to help this wayward soldier stop an invasion of Earth. Along the way, the link between the war and Carol’s past reveals itself as Carol learns how to use the full potential of her powers to save the Earth.
Carol’s adventures on Earth is really where the heart of Captain Marvel shines. The chemistry between Samuel L Jackson and Brie Larson was amazing, turning the superhero origin story into a comedic buddy movie between two characters looking for their path. This movie is Sam Jackson’s finest hour! Instead of the gruff, authoritative former director of SHIELD, Fury is a regular Joe crime-fighter… and a cat person! Jackson had a lot of fun playing the comic relief and showing another layer to the master spy.
Danvers’ strength is where she shines as a strong, independent female hero, who doesn’t really need help. Seeing her flashbacks to her past on Earth and her time with the Kree, she’s never considered an equal. Whether it was the fact that she was too emotional or didn’t belong piloting a plane, the heroine defies the odds. Captain Marvel is devoid of insecurities by film’s end and its great to see. Unfortunately, Carol Danvers was hard to connect with at times. She is a witty but stone-faced hero who is no nonsense but I didn’t really feel a strong enough connection to the character for me to be fully invested in her journey. By the third act and the classic hero rising to their full potential, the sait is well worth it in a cosmic battle that starts on the ground and reaches the stars,
I would blame the early struggle on the writing but a foundation on the character has been built. That’s the important thing because we already know that Captain Marvel will be in Marvel’s highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame. This problem is something that the Russo Brothers could build Danvers up with because there is a lot of time between this adventure and when we catch up with her teaming with the other heroes in this universe.
She is well-matched with an antagonist played by Ben Mendelsohn. The Australian actor has earned praise by playing sniveling baddy turns in Rogue One and Ready Player One. His role in Captain Marvel is something different and special. We meet him as a Skrull and a “human”, both with different accents and mannerisms. This role definitely shows his versatility as an actor. Audiences should be more excited for this actor’s future roles. Benning has a very interesting role that is too much to explain without going into spoiler territory. Also, there is a great, scene-stealing cat.
Since this is a period piece, the nostalgia is entertaining but could have been toned down a little. From music hits like bands like TLC to No Doubt, nostalgic games and pay phones, you can’t help but smile and bask in the 90s throwbacks. Unfortunately, we also got the other facts of that era that we didn’t like such as a heckler trying to get a rise out of the fish-out-of-water space warrior. This movie didn’t lean heavily into the female empowerment for me but did enough to produce a role model for young female fans to look up to.
With the success of Warner Bros. Wonder Woman, Marvel Studios had to make a move into this field of a female-led superhero film, especially with a solid foundation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to build upon. Larson is the first female to headline a Marvel Studios film (which should have happened in Phase II of this movie franchise but moving on) and it was a fun ride. A little thin but still something that can be built into a solid solo franchise for this character. While I know there have been trolls that wanted to bring this film down, real audience members knows that Marvel can still be trusted to provide an entertaining hero story, even one as predictable as an origin tale.
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