Every superhero movie should be required to feature an adorable cat. Welcome to my Ted Talk…
I feel that this review needs to be prefaced with the following disclaimer: With the exception of Black Panther (2018) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), I am not a huge fan of Marvel movies. I don’t think that they’re terrible, I just find the majority of them to be repetitive, overhyped, and exhausting. It doesn’t help that there are now 21 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I’ve only seen 14 of them. That sounds like more than you’d think, but when every movie has dozens of characters and hundreds of references to other movies, I get a little lost. That being said, there is always an inherent sense of fun and childlike enjoyment with these movies, and Captain Marvel (2019) is no exception. There’s a lot to like that is sure to satisfy any fan of Marvel or superheroes in general, but I found it ultimately underwhelming. Marvel fans, please be gentle with me.
Captain Marvel follows the titular hero as she struggles to regain her memories of a past life while fending off an invasion from the shape-shifting race of aliens known as Skrulls. She must do so while working alongside a young Nick Fury, the agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. she teams up with after crash-landing on Earth in 1995.
An origin story for the latest hero to join the MCU, Captain Marvel follows the predictable yet successful formula that Marvel has applied to previous movies: a protagonist with an arsenal of one-liners, a horde of disposable villains, a healthy amount of bright colours and explosions, and a ton of sci-fi mumbo jumbo. During the first five minutes I thought I had stumbled into a Star Wars (1977 – present) movie by mistake. The first 20 minutes of the movie, which take place entirely in space, do a wonderful job of showing how powerful and capable Captain Marvel is, but boy is it a chore to get through. A dark and misty setting make it impossible to identify characters, there are flashbacks within flashbacks, and the choppy editing is all over the place. At times it seems like co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were given the opportunity to try something new and deviate slightly from Marvel’s style of filmmaking, a gamble that is more or less successful. Thankfully things clear up, literally and figuratively, when Captain Marvel, real name Carol Danvers, finds her way to Earth.
Let’s talk about Brie Larson for a minute. I like Brie Larson. I thought she was a lot of fun in 21 Jump Street (2012), was brilliant in Room (2015), and hello, she gets the prestigious honour of being one of the Six Chicks in 13 Going on 30 (2004). That automatically puts her in my good book. As Carol Danvers, you can tell that Larson is having the best time, reveling in the fantasy of the role she gets to play. Larson does her best to infuse the character with authentic charm and heart, but it’s an uphill battle as I’m disappointed to report that the actual character of Captain Marvel is severely underwritten.
There is no denying that Captain Marvel is an extraordinary hero who is a skilled pilot, a physical badass, and someone that fans of every generation can look up to. However, and this is my problem with a lot of Marvel heroes, her character felt extremely one-note. It’s as though the studio was so preoccupied with making sure she was cool and that people loved her, they were afraid to give her any kind of vulnerability, a trait that I feel only endears audiences to heroes even more. Carol never faces any real conflict or exhibits any growth. Whenever she was faced with a challenge, she calmly went, “oh, to overcome this I need to do the thing, I already know how to do the thing, look, I just did the thing perfectly.” Obviously it’s great to have your hero succeed, but isn’t it always more fun and relatable to watch a hero learn, grow, and struggle a little first? I feel like that solidifies them as someone worth cheering for. Once again, Larson is perfectly fine, I just wish her character had more depth than, “I’m cool and good at fighting.”
Samuel L. Jackson is also in this movie, reprising the role of Nick Fury for the ninth time. Only this time around, he’s drastically aged down thanks to some frankly, fucking incredible, technology. Look, the filmmakers either built a time machine, or are witches. There is no other logical reasoning behind how they were able to transform the 70-year-old Jackson into a 30-year-old version of himself. Speaking of character development, not that I’m the definitive source for all things Nick Fury-related, but his character also felt oddly written. From what I remember about the character from the handful of movies I’ve seen him in, he’s unflappable, no-nonsense, and very focused on the mission at hand. Granted, this movie takes place about 13 years before we’re first introduced to the character, but I really can’t imagine a time in which the Nick Fury we’ve come to know sings into scrub brushes, fawns over cats, and is more or less helpless for a majority of the movie. Weirdly enough I didn’t hate the choice to make his character that way, it was just bizarre, you know?
After the incredible vision, imagination, and execution of Marvel’s last big solo movie for a new character, Black Panther, I was expecting Captain Marvel to follow suit and offer audiences something groundbreaking and unique. Instead, it felt more like Marvel was phoning this one in. Again, the movie is perfectly fine and has its charms, but as a whole it felt derivative of other movies in the genre and almost like it was going through the motions of everything that a Marvel or superhero movie should be. I personally would have loved a more compelling or original story for Captain Marvel’s big debut rather than a straightforward alien invasion plot which I’m pretty sure has already been done in the MCU several times.
That being said, I’d still recommend going to see Captain Marvel. I definitely have my issues with this movie, but they’re ultimately quite minor and don’t distract too greatly from the fun that is to be had. I still can’t get over how underwritten Carol was though. You guys, after you see the movie, let me know what you made of her character. I’d love to know if anyone had the same thoughts I did, or if I maybe missed something. Oh! I’m also definitely not over this movie’s tragic waste of Annette Bening and Gemma Chan. I could have used a lot more of them because they’re both wonderful. If I had to think of the best way to describe Captain Marvel as a whole, I’d have to compare it to a plain cheese pizza. It’s still pretty good and I’m more than happy to consume it, but it needs a little something extra to give it some flavour. Does that make any sense or have I only succeeded in making you hungry?
Finally, to end this review, I will be including a picture of Goose, who is by far the best part of this movie for super obvious reasons. Yes, it’s because he’s an adorable cat.
Have you seen Captain Marvel? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!