Higher, Further, Faster! “Captain Marvel” releases in theaters this Friday, and we have your spoiler-free review just in time.
On March 8, 2019, Marvel Studios releases its next chapter of the cinematic universe with its debut female superhero, “Captain Marvel”. This film is our first look at the hero that will save the universe. Brie Larson, who portrays Vers/Captain Marvel, is an unstoppable force and proves that she is the superhero we have been waiting for. In this review, I will be breaking down the 2-hour film into four categories: plot, visual effects, acting, and significance to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Disclaimer: This is not an opinion-free review. While this review does not contain spoilers for the overall film, I allude to particular scenes and plot points in my overall evaluation of the film. Continue at your own risk.
One of the strengths directors/writers Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck is their trust in the audience. Unlike other MCU origin stories like “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” which show audiences the hero acquiring their powers in the first act of the film, “Captain Marvel” throws Marvel fans immediately into the action of Kree and the millennium-long war against the Skrulls. Marvel Studios trusts its audience to not have to be handheld through this new world of sci-fi sounding names like The Supreme Intelligence, evildoer Talos, or the Starforce Command.
There is also a significant tone shift from the movie than from the superhero standalone films of 2018 such as “Black Panther” and “Ant-Man & The Wasp”, substituting witty banter for dialogue that builds on the world of Captain Marvel. In the first 30 minutes of the film Vers (played by Brie Larson), and her fellow Starforce Command troops, are placed in a mission to defend a Kree boundary planet from Skrull infiltration. The scene is dark and jammed-pack with action, giving little room for comic relief. It isn’t until Vers crash lands through a Blockbuster on Planet C-53 that we meet the comic relief: Detective Nicholas Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson). While there are moments where the movie follows the same beats as other fish-out-of-water stories, the difference comes from seeing a younger version of the future leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. and rookie Agent Phil Coulson (played by Clark Gregg). There is an entire C-plot dedicated to Detective Fury’s left eye, which is played for laughs as the audience anxiously awaits to see what causes Fury to lose the infamous left eye.
There are two moments of the film that are written to serve as “plot twists” for the audience. However, if you are a fan of Captain Marvel and know anything about her origin story in the comic books, you will be underwhelmed. At the screening I attended, there were gasps from the audience at these moments, but I made the mistake of reading a few Captain Marvel comics before watching the film. To the Marvel fan, I advise to not set yourself up to expect a “plot twist” but to enjoy the ride. If you’re a casual MCU viewer, you will find the twists amusing! But fret not, Marvel Fans, because there are two Easter eggs that will challenge your knowledge of the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
If you’re like me, the visual effects of Marvel Studios’ films are important in making the adventures of these superheroes films believable. “Captain Marvel” shares the same fate as the likes of “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” with having incredible set designs, but sub-par CGI in character close-ups. Captain Marvel and her photon blasts are stunning, but there are a few scenes with Goose the Cat and Captain Marvel’s hair floating through space that is reminiscent to an earlier time of CGI. There are also moments where the audience are thrown into the cockpit of the Skrulls’ ship and the Starforce Command’s fleet that does not fully translate the actor’s green screen scenes to the world of Captain Marvel.
Each actor provides a stellar performance in “Captain Marvel”, regardless of their role. From the fantastic performances of Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson to the supporting performances by Jude Law and Ben Mendelsohn, to the loveable four animal actors who play Goose the Cat. The team of Starforce Command, led by Yon-Rogg (played by Jude Law), consists of weapons specialist Minn-Erva (played by Gemma Chan), Korath (played by Djimon Hounsou), brute force Bron-Char (Rune Temte), and an unnamed private soldier (played by Chuku Modu). The team of Kree heroes sets up the rules of war in this millennium-long battle with the Skrulls, and the warriors help develop Vers’ internal struggle. The Supreme Intelligence (played by Annette Banning) takes shape of Dr. Larson, a significant person in Vers’ life but she has no recollection of who Dr. Lawson is. Once Captain Marvel crashlands on Planet C-53, the supporting characters like Jackson’s Detective Fury and Gregg’s Detective Coulson provide a nostalgic flair to the film with references to previous events in the MCU and events to come.
Marvel Studios provides another strong villain in the shape of Talos, leader of the Skrulls, which is refreshing after the studios’ track record of weak villains. Talos (played by Ben Mendelsohn) serves as the comic relief of the film, but that doesn’t lessen the importance of the antagonist. Much like how Killmonger from “Black Panther” and Thanos from “Avengers: Infinity War” are villains where the audience can sympathize, so can the audience with Talos.
Significance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
“Captain Marvel” provides a new lens to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the film, the audience learns more about Nick Fury’s mysterious past, the relationship between Fury and Coulson, and how Captain Marvel will save the post-Infinity War universe. I won’t speak too much more about this, as I don’t want to spoil the plot of the movie, but I will say that it is important to see the two after credits.
Overall, while “Captain Marvel” is not the strongest film in the MCU, the performances from the actors along with the dialog pave the way for future superheroes to come. Also, Goose the Cat gives Baby Groot a run for his money as the cutest character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Make sure to soar higher, further, faster on March 8 and see “Captain Marvel” in theaters and IMAX.