Okay, I have to admit two things before we go any further with this review of Marvel’s latest film, Captain Marvel. Both of these will be controversial for different reasons:
1. I have not read the comics…and not just the Captain Marvel comics….none of the Marvel comics. Please go ahead and go into a blind rage, I’ll wait. This doesn’t mean I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed the MCU because I have. Starting with Iron Man, I have seen every one of the movies that make up The Avengers universe. I’ll admit that the reason I watched Iron Man, to begin with, was because of Robert Downey Jr. and the reason I kept watching the films is that I have a lot of friends (and a boyfriend) who are comic book nerds…uh I mean…fans.
2. I had a really hard time imagining Brie Larson pulling off a superhero. Not because I don’t love her, I’ve enjoyed her performances ever since I saw her playing Kate Gregson on United States of Tara….and Room? Sheer brilliance! I just couldn’t imagine her as AN AVENGER! However, if you would have told me in the year 2006 that Robert Downey Jr. would be most well known around the world for playing a comic book character and not for his role as Wayne Gale in Natural Born Killers—or that Chris Evans would get famous as all hell for playing a different superhero than Johnny Storm…I would have laughed at you.
I’m just letting Y’all know that this is not a review written by some all-knowing Marvel genius or a living female manifestation of “The Comic Book Guy” from The Simpsons. Instead, it’s written by a casual tourist, so forgive me if anything I say sounds dumb because I don’t know everything about the Kree-Skrull wars or which issue the Flurkin is introduced. I’ll leave that to the experts, of which there are plenty, who probably already have hour-long YouTube videos about the film.
“She was bestowed special powers that she has not yet learned to harness…”
Coming in (relatively) blind, Captain Marvel is two hours of fast-paced fun. First of all, I had no idea that Jude Law was in the film, and I love him. So I was very excited to see him at the outset of the movie as Vers’ (Captain Marvel’s Kree name) mentor of sorts, Yon-Rogg. When we first meet Captain Marvel…or Vers (pronounced Veers)…or Carol Danvers…she is on Hala training with Yon-Rogg. She was bestowed special powers that she has not yet learned to harness. She also has no memory of her life beyond six years prior and consistently has strange dreams that suggest she has another life…on another planet.
A co-star in this dream is someone that we eventually find out is Dr. Lawson. Dr. Lawson, who is also Vers’ visualization of the Supreme Intelligence (the A.I. ruler of the Kree, who takes on the form of the person most important to whoever is in front of it at the time), is played by another person I never thought would be in a superhero movie, Annette Bening.
Vers’ joins Yon-Rogg and his team, which includes amongst them Karath (Djimon Hounsou) who we might remember from Guardians of The Galaxy, on a mission to extract a spy from Skrull territory. The mission doesn’t go as planned, and Vers falls to Earth, or planet c-53, which fellow Kree Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan) calls “a real shithole.” Vers just so happens to fall directly into a Blockbuster Video, which lets us know for sure that WE ARE IN THE 90’s everyone! Soon after, S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up. Agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson who is CG’d to look like he did in Pulp Fiction minus the Jheri curl) and rookie agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg who is CG’d to look not much different than he does now).
“…has some hilarious moments and some that tug at your heartstrings…”
From this point forward, it is pretty much a non-stop journey through the history that formed The Avengers. We see young Ronin The Accuser (Lee Pace), we learn how Nick Fury lost his eye (which I will not spoil here), we learn the origins of some pretty important items that might be useful to Thanos in the future…and also we hear A LOT of 90’s music, particularly from woman-fronted bands. “Connection” by Elastica, “Just A Girl” by No Doubt, “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage, and weirdest of all “Celebrity Skin” by Hole. Again, if you would have told me as a teenager that a Courtney Love song would be in a superhero movie, I would have told you to get bent.
Overall, I enjoyed the film a lot. It was nice to see the softer side of Nick Fury, who has a really cute friendship with a cat(?) named Goose—a definite nod to Top Gun, which makes sense considering Carol Danvers’ history in the Air Force. There’s a lot of cool outer space and flight scenes; and some great fight choreography. The downside to the film is that even though the film is 2 hours long, it covers A LOT of material, so it does feel somewhat rushed at times. We do discover Captain Marvel’s true origins and her rebirth as the superhero who will hopefully save the rest of our Avengers in End Game.
I can’t end this review without saying that it’s pretty cool that this film is co-directed by a woman and co-written by a team of women. This might have something to do with competing with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, but oh well. The film also has some hilarious moments and some that tug at your heartstrings, particularly involving Carol’s best friend Maria Rambeau (LaShana Lynch). Just remember there’s a lot of story that if you haven’t read the comics, you’ll need to pay close attention. I’d say it’s on par with Thor: Ragnarok for being a mostly jovial entry into the MCU and I like it just about as much. I also can’t wait to see what Larson brings to the table in Avengers: End Game.
Captain Marvel (2019) Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Written by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, and Geneva-Robertson Dworet. Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendehlson, Jude Law, Annette Benning, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Rune Temte, Gemma Chan, Algenis Perez Soto, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Akira Akbar.
8 out of 10 stars
Film Threat Team Reviews
Overall, Captain Marvel is a good, strong film. Unfortunately, good is a small step back. It’s also a traditional origin story, which is another step back. There are also a few plot holes and a few over-the-top moments (i.e. the ending). Ultimately, I liked Captain Marvel, but I can see how it will piss off the hardcore Marvel fan. There is a subtle “Girl Power” vibe to it that works as well. Like Alita: Battle Angel, Captain Marvel will find her appeal with young tweens. 7 out of 10 stars
Filled with high-octane fight sequences, inter-galactic politics and so much shape-shifting it puts the entire Mission: Impossible series to shame, Captain Marvel allows its indie directors to apply a touch of poignancy here, an artistic brush-stroke there – but mostly it’s a by-the-numbers affair. That being said, it will most likely elate Marvel fans, and certainly welcome a sardonic, strong and Marvel-lous female character to the superhero sausage fest. 7/10
Captain Marvel adheres to the MCU standard of fun that’s been firmly established. This is good, because fun is all it has going for it, even though it’s lacking a “Thor fights a fire demon to Led Zeppelin” moment. All in all, I achieved two-and-a-half stupid grins, which is below average for me and the MCU. The pace is quick enough that you fly right over the plotholes, but the plotholes do prevent the movie from being substantive and memorable. Carol Danvers isn’t written very well—her backstory is thin and her character is generic. The Skrulls are largely misused for comedic fodder, when there are already several active sources of comedic fodder. Some menace would do this movie good. Sam Jackson is great. With the conclusion to Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame on the horizon, Captain Marvel feels like the complimentary bread before the big meal. It’s bland and not what you’re waiting on, but it’s well-made and satisfying in the moment. 6.5/10
The Good, the Brie and the Ugly
Diversity. I love diversity of opinion. I also support inclusion. Which is why for this review you’ll find many opinions from our team at Film Threat about Marvel’s latest film and new female superhero Captain Marvel. There’s a lot to like, there are some things to dislike, and much will be discussed. But let’s start on a positive note, there is no debate that Goose the cat is the star of this film and no critic that I’ve observed seems to disagree. Critics across the board have nothing but kind words for Captain Marvel’s furry friend. Secondly, Sam Jackson is, as always, great. Oh, and the character of Maria Rambeau played by Lashana Lynch is exceptional and I honestly wish that she was the lead in this film. And… well that’s it.
What?! Let’s dive into the most flawed aspect of Captain Marvel, and that is Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers. She is the weakest link in the film. It’s unfortunate because I thoroughly enjoyed her performance in the film Room. But not only is she miscast in this role, she seems to be acting in a completely different movie than her counterparts. Someone at Marvel must have not paid careful attention while shooting and did not seem to notice her lackluster performance. Larson is out-shined by everyone, including non-human actors. (And by non-human, I’m not just talking about Goose the cat, but digital characters as well as the special effects.) It all comes down to a tone issue. Larson just doesn’t fit this role and, at times, seems uncomfortable and worse, unconvincing. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that there was so much acting against a green screen or acting against tennis balls or something. But just because Larson is acting against inanimate objects, doesn’t mean she needs to act like one too. It comes down to her character being likable and relatable and she is none of those things. The fact that Black Panther featured so many great female characters shows that Marvel can deliver when it comes to women on screen. In fact, go watch Black Panther again. I wish Larson was half as likable as Shuri in that film.
This is by far, the worst Marvel movie since… well, pre-MCU movies or TV like when Thor appeared on The Incredible Hulk TV show way back when. (Look it up, that actually happened.)
With the upcoming conclusion to Avengers: Infinity War on the horizon with Avengers: Endgame, the shoe-horning in of Captain Marvel as the savior may end up being a colossal error on the scale of focusing so much screen time on Jar Jar in Star Wars Episode I. What I do find astonishing is how many critics are texting me privately to tell me how much they did not like it. Let’s face it though, the only opinion that matters is the audience. Studios can push agendas all they want, but the only color Hollywood responds to is green (money).
3 out of 10