‘Captain Marvel’ Theatrical Review
So this small studio, which you probably haven’t heard of, put out a little movie that just a few folks were looking forward to. That’s right kiddos, Marvel Studios releases Captain Marvel this weekend. So that’s the small studio and as the movie is in the top 5 for ticket pre-sales that covers the “few folks were looking forward to it.”
I’ll try not to have too many spoilers, but if you haven’t seen the movie you can check out the rating and quick review all the way at the bottom.
Now to get to the serious stuff. Captain Marvel is a very important movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie is set in the 90’s but it is assumed that Captain Marvel (character not movie title) will play a big role in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame, so they’re setting the stage for some big things coming up.
The movie tells the story of Carol Danvers. She has two main objectives throughout the movie: stop the Skrulls from invading worlds and find out more about her past so she can fully control her powers. Danvers (Brie Larson) is helped by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and his team of Kree warriors to stop the Skrulls, a shapeshifting race, from spreading across worlds.
This eventually brings her to Earth, or C-53 as they call it, and she meets some familiar faces. Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg reprise their roles as, respectively, Nick Fury and Agent Coulson, though much younger than we’ve seen either of them before. It’s a great look at S.H.I.E.L.D. before it became the Goliath that it is in the rest of the MCU. The acting is fantastic and, like most Marvel movies, the characters feel real and their interactions and relationships are perfect.
The story and pacing are great. The feel from the script and actors is just as it should be. There are genuinely funny moments and some serious action. And with it clocking in at just over 2 hours, Captain Marvel is long enough to fully flesh-out the storylines it wants to tell but not so long that portions feel slow or leave you wanting to get back to the action.
Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, both serving as directors and working on the screenplay, give this film an amazing heart. The build-up throughout the script takes Danvers from just another warrior to full-on mega-powered superhero and I mean SUPER. The build-up also feels natural and the pay-off for the wait, in the end, is great. The humor is perfect and never takes you out of the seriousness of the overall story but also doesn’t feel forced.
The only knock would be Captain Marvel as a character. Much like Superman in Justice League, once Carol Danvers has her full ability as Captain Marvel, it’s clear that pretty much nothing can stop her. In Justice League, after Superman is back and ready to go, he’s faster than The Flash, a better leader than Batman, stronger and a better fighter than Wonder Woman (my editor says this is sacrilege) or Aquaman (actually probably better and stronger than Wonder Woman AND Aquaman, more sacrilege). That’s the feeling I got watching Carol Danvers go full-on Captain Marvel. Why will we need anyone else to fight on our side in Avengers: Endgame?
Now on to the less good part. Like Black Panther last year, Captain Marvel isn’t without a bit of controversy surrounding the movie’s release. Even before it was released there were “review bombs” started on Rotten Tomatoes with their “Want to See it” score leading them to change how they report those numbers. There’s a pretty constant refrain from a certain set of society that had problems with any movie that isn’t led by only white men.
The best I can tell, the basis for those complaints about this movie are that since Carol Danvers wasn’t always Captain Marvel (which is true), has only been Captain Marvel recently (which is also true), and her comic books have been rebooted (again true), but Marvel choosing her version of the character for the big screen as a politically motivated and a forced “equal” representation issue (equal being in quotations since this is the first female-led Marvel movie compared to the large number of male-led superhero movies, it would take a long time to make it actually equal).
Based on this same conclusion, these detractors should only want movies where the main character has only ever had one identity, been that same character for a long time, and never been rebooted. Using those criteria would only leave us with a handful of movies. Get ready for that big box-office buster of Archie coming out next summer.
We’ve talked about representation in film if you listen to the Nerdcast you’ve heard it before, but it’s very important. Carol Danvers is an important character and her representation in Captain Marvel is fantastic, especially since it releases on International Women’s Day. Danvers isn’t driven by a love interest, or to prove herself worthy to a man. The storyline they tell is that of a superhero, the fact that she’s a woman only comes into play because when you see that throughout her life people have been telling her how to act.
We see flashbacks of her as a child and people telling her she shouldn’t be driving so fast in a go-cart with no one yelling at the little boys driving right beside her. We see male pilots asking her “you know why it’s called a cockpit right?” But these things never stopped her. Like another beloved Captain, whenever she gets knocked down she gets back up. This inner fight and heart is what leads her to her true power.
Overall, Captain Marvel is important for many reasons. It gives the MCU a character powerful enough to take on Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet and it shows a powerful female character but not through the lens of a romantic relationship. From a movie standpoint, nothing stood out to me as something that should be changed but I’ve never been the biggest fan of overpowered superheroes. It also pays perfect tribute to Stan Lee from the intro to his cameo.
Let’s be serious, even if you don’t like the character you need to see Captain Marvel if only so you know everything Marvel wants you to know going into Avengers: Endgame. The best part about that is that you’re going to get to see a very good movie while you’re at it. Captain Marvel feels great and is a ton of fun. Don’t forget to stick around for the two post-credits scenes.
Captain Marvel hits all the right notes as it takes us on a 90’s filled adventure. Matching seriousness with serious humor, the tale of Carol Danvers’ origin fits very well at the end of Marvel’s first generation of superhero movies, setting the stage for bigger and better in the future.