Thanos may have snapped half of all life in the universe out of existence, but Captain Marvel is here to save the day! Well, sort of…(right?)
As fans prepare for Avengers: Endgame in just over a month’s time, another new hero has joined the fray in Captain Marvel. Academy Award winning actress Brie Larson has stepped into the boots of Marvel’s most powerful character in the first female-led film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With all of the hype and controversy surrounding this film, is it a worthy addition into a shared universe that has 10+ years of momentum behind it?
Set in 1995, Captain Marvel follows the story of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel on her journey of self-discovery as she works to uncover the truth about her past while fighting an intergalactic war against the shape-shifting Skrulls on the side of the Kree Empire. Without getting into spoiler territory, let’s take a look at the highs and lows of the 21st film in the MCU.
One of the biggest crimes committed in the previous 20 MCU films has been the lack of screen time for Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. Though he’s made small appearances in various films and had a somewhat larger role in 2012’s The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Fury has been relegated to a glorified cameo character for the most part. With so many hints of Fury’s past activities dropped previously, fans are finally being treated to learning more about this enigmatic character.
Fury, complete with a full head of hair and set of eyes, has his first major film in Captain Marvel. Seeing a younger, more youthful and charismatic Fury on-screen was one of the best things going for this film. Whether he’s expositing about learning about the existence of aliens or making friends with cats, Fury finally gets the screen time he’s deserved.
Speaking of Agents of SHIELD (no, not the show), another familiar albeit digitally de-aged face appears in this film in the form of Phil Coulson. Though Clark Gregg’s character doesn’t see much screen time, his presence is felt through his caring nature as he helps our heroes along the way. More Coulson would have been fine, however it’s understandable that he wasn’t due to the CGI technology used to de-age him.
A brand new addition to the MCU comes from the newly introduced alien race, the Skrulls. These green-skinned shapeshifters are touted as the film’s antagonists in the various trailers shown, led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). The prospect of these beings having the capability to impersonate any living being opens up major possibilities for the MCU’s future. Could we later find out that characters we’ve seen in these films are actually Skrulls in disguise? The premise alone is worth pondering and makes future movies even more intriguing when theorizing. Ben Mendelsohn gives a wonderful performance and is one of the best parts of the film.
Though we did get a few great performances from the actors listed above, the same cannot be said for the film’s star, Brie Larson. Larson’s performance can best be described as, in this writer’s opinion, wooden, emotionless and boring. At no point during this film did Larson ever exude any kind of believable feelings or emotions. Her lack of relatability in this fashion makes her a hard character to really root for. Not helping matters are her powers. Never really explained, her powers climb to levels that make her seemingly invincible, taking any real sense of danger and suspense away from action scenes.
A fair comparison to make to Larson’s Captain Marvel character would be Jennifer Lawrence’s take on the mutant, Mystique from the X-Men franchise. Both characters lack any real depth due to the deliveries their actresses put forth whilst portraying them. Captain Marvel is filled with portions of the film where it feels like Brie Larson is reading off of a cue card to deliver her lines. Her attempts at one-liners fall flat, feeling more robotic than humorous.
Jude Law is in this film. There’s not much more to add to that statement. He’s in it, has some dialogue and things to do, disappears from the film for large portions and then comes back. Djimon Hounsou and Lee Pace are back to reprise their roles of Korath the Pursuer and Ronan the Accuser, respectively, from Guardians of the Galaxy, but their roles are small and largely insignificant, making them an afterthought.
Captain Marvel is also very uneven in its pacing and feels very jumpy in its storytelling. The constant changing of time periods through flashbacks make for confusing scenes and plot points that don’t really add any substance to the film because of the poor character development Carol Danvers receives. Sure, we get cut scenes to her past in abundance, but small clips of scenes don’t get audiences to learn about a character in any kind of real way. There are many scenes that seem to drag on, filled with pointless dialogue and little-to-no action.
Mentioning the action sequences, while there are a few spectacles, the majority of scenes just don’t match the levels of other MCU installments. As previously mentioned, the overpowering of Captain Marvel makes these sequences less intense and predictable. If the goal of this film was simply to introduce a character that could stand up to the power of Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, mission accomplished. If the goal was to create a new face of the overall franchise, that mission has failed.
This writer would be naive to think that there won’t be people who read this review and try to assert various agendas or other troll-like behaviors. People have a hard time conceptualizing the fact that it’s OK to disagree with someone and still have a civilized conversation about it and that people can have opinions on things without any pre-existing negativity attached.
If you see this film and disagree with any of the points made, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section and open a dialogue about it. As film fans, we should all be able to have civilized conversations about these things without having to name call, bad mouth or slander other people because they have a different point of view.
Now that Captain Marvel has hit theaters, do you think that she can serve as the new face of the MCU starting in Phase 4? Did you enjoy Brie Larson’s performance as Captain Marvel? Let us know in the comments section!