Captain Marvel is a great character trapped in a formulaic origin story


Brendan Sheardy, Staff Writer

  Captain Marvel is the introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest hero, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. Carol finds herself in the middle of an intergalactic war while also trying to piece together the fragments of her shattered memory to discover her true identity. Brie Larson stars alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch, and Annette Bening in this blockbuster directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.

  If you’ve seen any of the many origin stories of the MCU, then you’ve more than likely seen this film more than once before. Following in the footsteps of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel follows the similar formula that is present in all of the lower-level Marvel movies, which is the main cause of death for the first female lead Marvel picture. Carol Danvers is never quite given her opportunity to soar due to poor direction from Boden & Fleck, who seem to be locked in a creative box by the towering figures known as the Marvel executives. It is known that the MCU producers are not very flexible when it comes to their director’s own creative vision, (Edgar Wright & Ant-Man), which has caused many Marvel flicks to feel like factory products rather than creative and inventive films. It is apparent that small-time directors were never given their own choices on set, which leads Captain Marvel to be a visionless film, which significantly compromises the experience. There is just nothing special about the presentation of this film, which may leave it to be forgettable, but only time will tell. This is a film that really wants to soar high and reach for the stars, but it’s unfortunate that it was never given the tools or the extra boost to touch them.

  The most disappointing aspect of this action spectacle are the action sequences themselves. There are a few entertaining scenes, mostly the space sequences, but I want to discuss the hand-to-hand combat scenes. We live in an age where I thought we no longer had to worry about shaky-cam action, yet films like Mile 22, and now Captain Marvel, are for whatever reason bringing it back. It genuinely hurt my eyes during these moments, and sometimes I had to look away because I was getting dizzy. The camera is simply way too close to the talent, and the quick cut editing to mask poor stunt work only made it more jarring to look at. These are easily the worst action sequences in the entire MCU.

  This film stumbles significantly out of the gate. The first 15-20 minutes of this film was very tough to get through, as we are thrusted into what feels like the middle of the third act, which leaves the audience confused and feeling like they arrives 10 minutes late to the film. It took a while to get started, the opening action sequence(s) are rather boring, and the character introductions felt rushed. It isn’t until Carol first arrives on Earth that the film ever gains momentum, and it takes quite a while to get there.

  However, once she does arrive to Earth, the film starts to gain some momentum, and that’s when Captain Marvel finally becomes a mildly entertaining popcorn movie. I really enjoyed the discourse between Carol and Nick Fury. It felt a lot like a good buddy-cop movie; the two had great on and off humor that made me laugh consistently. I won’t spoil, but there is a line that was in the trailer that made me laugh that was taken out of the film, which was disappointing but just a minor nitpick.

  This film is set in the 90s, so you can expect some pop-culture references. There aren’t so many that it takes over the entire experience, I’m looking at you, Ready Player One, but the few winks and nods were clever and added some character to the setting of the film.

  I really dig Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. Many have been saying that she’s too “emotionless” and doesn’t bring much to the character, but I found her to be really charismatic and was able to convey a lot of hidden emotion within the character, which I though she pulled off brilliantly. I also am very interested in Carol as a character. She has a very interesting back story that I thought took a bit too much of a backseat here, but I can’t wait to further dive into her past and see her develop through her future MCU installments. She is more than a welcome addition to the franchise.

  Ben Mendelsohn played a great villain. I know it’s not a surprise since Mendelsohn has played great villains his whole career, but he adds a lot of depth and personality to his character, despite being fully covered in makeup for the majority of his screen time, which is very impressive. His character is very touching, and has some fantastic emotional moments that really touched me and made me feel for his character.

  Jude Law is really under used. I understand it’s not his movie, but I just felt like his character wasn’t given any depth, and Law’s performance wasn’t anything particularly memorable.

  Samuel L. Jackson is great as usual. Like I said before, his discourse with Carol is excellently delivered and funny. There’s no new backstory given to him, but I don’t think he needed one. We’ve learned almost all we need to know about Fury already, so I was happy with just seeing him in his younger years.

  There are two messages within Captain Marvel. The known female empowerment message actually shines through very well, and wasn’t obnoxious like this film’s ad campaign, but it felt genuine and very heart-felt, and it makes me happy to know that a young girl can see this film and feel more confident about herself. There is also a message about refugees and war that I did not expect, but it also shined through and made for some very powerful moments throughout the third act of the film.

  Overall, I wouldn’t say this is a great film by any means, but it’s a mildly entertaining film was good performances and a very strong lead character. I am very interested to learn more about Captain Marvel, but I just hope her next installment is much more well-made than this one was.

  Rating: 6/10