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Captain Marvel – Really So “Marvel”-ous?

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Captain Marvel – Really So “Marvel”-ous?

Matthew Deckers, Entertainment Analyist

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Captain Marvel is the latest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It introduces us to the character of Carol Danvers, a woman who has unique powers but keeps having flashbacks of moments she doesn’t remember. She works with a group of aliens known as the Kree, and after a mission gone wrong, she ends up on Earth in the 1990s. It’s here that she meets a younger Nick Fury, who’s never seen an alien before. The Kree and another alien race, the shapeshifting Skrulls, have been stuck in a galactic war and are now bringing it to Earth. Carol must learn to use her powers to the fullest in order to end the war for good.

I sadly wasn’t very engaged with this movie and the events of its story. It’s not particularly noteworthy or really terrible, its just another cliche Marvel origin story. The fish-out-of-water narrative is so overdone in this universe to a point where all of these origin movies are basically the same. We’ve seen characters reacting and adapting to humans and trying to find something within themselves to discover their true power a million times already. The movie’s structure is also really confusing, especially at the beginning when it starts with Carol training to join the Kree rather than her actual past. She keeps having flashbacks to moments where she was younger, which helps build her character a little more but also confuses both her and the viewers. I wish that they spent more time developing Carol in a less confusing way, because this movie’s plot is more concerned with answering questions about the Marvel universe rather than properly introducing us to a character who is supposedly very important in the upcoming Avengers movie. To avoid spoiling anything, I’ll just say that the writers spent too much screen time showing us how really obscure things came to be in other Marvel movies. There’s also a twist a little over halfway through the movie that surprised me, but was very lackluster. I can’t really talk about this in detail, but it wasn’t impressive at all to me.

I also thought that the writing wasn’t as good as it could have been. I liked the dynamic between Nick Fury and Carol, as there’s lots of witty dialogue shared between them. I also respect how Captain Marvel isn’t written to be a love interest or in a relationship with a male character; she’s just a female who’s treated like everyone else. It’s surprising that it took Marvel years to create a character this way, though. Besides that, I thought the rest of the script was mediocre. Carol is supposed to be a fish- out-of-water, yet she gets used to Earth far too quickly and starts joking about Fury’s past ten minutes after they meet. This shows how her character arc is too rushed, so when she’s finally able to use her full power it’s not deserved since the buildup was so weak. Superheroes like Captain Marvel and Superman who can just do anything are not interesting or captivating in the slightest, unless put at a serious disadvantage. Why should I get excited for Avengers: Endgame when I know that Carol Danvers can defeat basically anyone without putting much effort in? Hopefully the Russo brothers and their team can write her to be less overpowered in that movie when it comes out later this year.

The Skrull aliens are another missed opportunity, since their shape-shifting abilities could be used for really creative sequences. There are glimpses of this, like the scene with the old woman on the train (which was shown during the trailers for the movie). There are other scenes that scratch the surface of how this concept could be used, but not much else. It’s suggested in the movie that they can shapeshift into more than just other people (like inanimate objects), so why the team behind this movie couldn’t use the endless potential of the Skrulls to make some decent action is beyond me. Speaking of the action scenes, they’re some of the most uninspired in the entire MCU. Even from a choreography standpoint, there’s nothing that made my heart pound or move me to the edge of my seat in this movie. Captain Marvel just uses her powers to do whatever the plot needs her to do, and I don’t get what’s interesting about that. Even the few hand-to-hand combat scenes are weak.

Sadly, I don’t think Brie Larson truly lived up to the role of Captain Marvel. I recognize that she is an incredibly talented actress and that she tried tremendously hard to play this role, but her line delivery is too robotic for me to buy her performance. I don’t know if this is a directing or acting issue, but she hardly shows any charisma for this role. Sometimes Larson is pretty decent, like when interacting with Samuel L. Jackson (who’s actually pretty good in this movie), but she just doesn’t have the same emotional range as a lot of the other actresses and actors in the MCU. I didn’t want to have to write this but I was very disappointed with her performance.

I don’t want to end this review on a downer, though, so let me talk about what Captain Marvel does well. The visual effects team did a wonderful job this time around, after struggling with the CGI in Black Panther and Ant-Man and the Wasp. I wish that the lighting in the first act was a little better, since it reminded me too much of Solo: A Star Wars Story, but it gets much better when Carol lands on Earth. I also need to point out that the technology used to de-age Samuel L. Jackson is nothing short of groundbreaking. I didn’t even notice that it was computer generated, which is what all good visual effects should strive to do. Comparing this to how the effects team failed to remove Henry Cavil’s mustache with CGI in Justice League just goes to show how a high budget can really be put to good use. There’s also your standard Marvel humor in this movie, and although I wasn’t laughing out loud like most of my theater I thought plenty of the jokes were effective and had good timing. I really loved Goose the cat, who shows up randomly in the middle of the film and actually has more personality than the main character. Maybe I’m just biased since I’m a cat person, but he had some good moments and actually does important things occasionally.

Overall, I thought that Captain Marvel was an average superhero movie. It does some things really well and falls flat on others. I was never bored, but never truly engaged or fascinated by anything in particular like I was when watching many other Marvel movies. If there’s one thing you should take away from this review, it should be this: go in with an open mind. As you may be aware, this movie has had a strange controversy surrounding it for quite some time. People are going in wanting to love it or wanting to hate it. This is really unfortunate because it shows how certain agendas, whether is be from the audience or even the filmmakers, are affecting people’s enjoyment of movies. I almost fell for this myself and was considering not watching this movie, but I decided against it and formed my own opinion. That’s what I suggest for all of you to do. It’s ridiculous that I even have to say this, but when I noticed how mad people were getting at the fact that this movie promotes strong female leads in cinema, I felt like I had to say something. Regardless of all of this, I would recommend this to any Marvel fans since Carol Danvers will likely be a vital part of Avengers: Endgame, but don’t expect the world of this movie.

5/10

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Captain Marvel – Really So “Marvel”-ous?