Captain Marvel Review

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The first female-lead Marvel film hit a roadblock weeks before it was even released. After lead-actress Brie Larson was misquoted to say she “hated white men,” fake reviews of “Captain Marvel” began to trash the film on Rotten Tomatoes, even pitting it against the upcoming “Shazam” movie.

Despite this backlash, the film is a fantastic introduction for Carol Danvers. While it’s not necessarily the best film Marvel has made, it hits the ground running for future MCU movies starring female characters.

Larson (Carol Danvers) doesn’t start off on the right foot as her characterization of Carol is tainted by a plethora of jokes that Larson just cannot land throughout the first act of the film. She does her best to pull off the jokes, but the overly sarcastic and witty jokes just don’t match with the more serious personality Danver expresses in the last two thirds of the film.

However, when she isn’t attempting to crack jokes, Larson creates a very relatable character in Carol Danvers. She varies greatly from other female-leads of the past, being quite stubborn and hot-tempered while still being humorous and fun. Many films of the past have unfairly decided that female characters can only be one or the other. Additionally, Larson’s training with the U.S. Air Force in preparation to play an Air Force pilot helps her sell the role. When she’s in the cockpit, she makes you believe that she knows what she’s doing.

Another aspect of Larson’s Carol Danvers that separates her from the rest is the highlight on the character’s past failures. The film shows Danvers failing continuously as she trained with the Air Force and even later in her life when she trained with the Kree soldiers. It portrays Danvers as a strong, yet deeply flawed character, allowing audiences to relate to her and her decisions.

Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) is “Captain Marvel’s” undeniable scene-stealer. In a role that is seemingly meant to compliment Larson’s Danvers, Jackson almost steals Larson’s spotlight, as Nick Fury is given the amount of screen-time that audiences have been demanding for years. Jackson continues his brilliant portrayal of Fury, expertly balancing comedic moments with serious action sequences.

Supporting actors Ben Mendelsohn (Talos) and Lashana Lynch (Maria Rambeau) create amazing secondary characters that frame the two stars and the story perfectly. Mendelsohn’s deceptive Skrull leader introduces the comic book characters to the big screen, hinting at a possible reappearance in future films. Lynch’s fiery yet calculated Air Force pilot contrasts Larson’s Danvers and adds more depth to the female characters of the storyline.

Despite great characterization and performances, the film suffers due to a predictable origin-story plot line that can be described as “Marvel generic.” It hits the basic bullet points of a superhero origin story, without taking any risks. It also lacks a traditional exposition, leaving audiences confused during the first 10 minutes, as nothing is explained. Excluding one plot twist (that can be guessed in the first 30 minutes), it’s clear audiences are mostly watching for the introduction of new characters and the reappearance of Nick Fury.

The same can be said for the directing. Nothing is new here, and no choices are made in the film that are particularly exciting or creative. The only exception to this was a handful of very visually interesting shots, mostly captured during the scene in the records room. Again, the film follows the lead of the previous Marvel movies. While, creatively, this can be seen as a problem, it allows the movie to do what it does best, be an entertaining action movie. The final aerial battle leaves the audience in awe as the battle alternates from taking place on Earth to space.

Some narrative decisions made in the film have gotten negative feedback from Marvel fans, and rightfully so. The revelation of what happened to Fury’s eye and what the the Avengers initiative was named after leaves hardcore fan dissatisfied. These answers have been teased for years in previous movies, but the answers we have been given leave fans wanting more.

Despite these technical setbacks, the film has some truly stunning VFX moments. From the skrulls shapeshifting abilities to Captain Marvel’s final battle, everything in the film is believable and beautiful to look at. The effects are grounded in reality but push that reality into imagination.

What “Captain Marvel” really achieves is the introduction of a very different female-lead. For Marvel’s first female-led film, they could have continued the previous trend of having a main female character who is either very tough and masculine or one that is very feminine and sweet. However, they chose to combine the two in order to reflect a more realistic type of women. Carol is tough, stubborn and strong, but she is also funny, caring and emotional. She represents the future of leading ladies, one where they don’t have to be put in a narrow category.

“Captain Marvel” follows the lead of the previous Marvel movies. While, creatively, this can be seen as a problem, it allows the movie to do what it does best, be an entertaining action movie, and it is an excellent start for future movies starring female heroes. It builds anticipation for “Avengers: Endgame” next month and introduces Carol Danvers as key player in future MCU movies.

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