Written by Matt Cunningham
Ever since Iron Man was released in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has shown film’s capability to bring enormous groups of people together. Regardless of the discussions surrounding ‘superhero fatigue,’ Marvel has shown time and time again that they can sell out mass amounts of theaters around the world.
The 21st movie in the MCU, Captain Marvel was released on March 7. It was directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who have both been involved in projects such as It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Half Nelson, and Mississippi Grind. The biggest budget of these three films is It’s Kind of a Funny Story at $8 million. Moreover, it is a risky choice to give the blockbuster budget of $152 million to these directors.
The film is Marvel’s first female-led adventure, as it stars Brie Larson (Short Term 12, Room, and Kong: Skull Island). Other actors in the film include Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, The Hateful Eight, Jurassic Park, and Glass) and Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Ready Player One, and The Dark Knight Rises).
This movie is Captain Marvel’s first appearance in the MCU. Naturally, it’s treated as an origin story for the character. She is shown working as a soldier for the Krees, a militarily and technologically advanced alien race. However, she eventually finds her way to Earth in the 1990’s and gets caught in the middle of a war between the Krees and the Skrulls. The Skrulls are also an advanced alien race that can shape shift into any object or person they have seen with their eyes. While on Earth, Captain Marvel uncovers her past and finds out how powerful she can be.
Marvel’s formula has proven to be entertaining, and this film certainly provides spurts of entertainment throughout its runtime. Dazzling 3D and CGI effects make the action sequences a dose of popcorn-movie fun. A scene involving Captain Marvel fighting a bunch of spaceships showed off the capabilities of 3D effects. There are no headache-inducing quick-cuts during the fight scenes, and it is fairly easy to determine what is going on.
Larson relishes the action scenes, as her quips and taunts towards the enemy left the audience laughing on a number of occasions. For example, when she is escaping a Skrull laboratory, she has two large pieces of metal stuck to her arm. Before she uses her powers to beat up the soldiers, she sarcastically asks, “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know how to get these off would ‘ya? No? Okay.”
However, Larson struggled in the more serious scenes. When there wasn’t an action set piece being thrown at the screen, she failed to convey a sense of emotion when it was needed. This left a lot to be desired in the narrative, because it was easy for my mind to drift during essential character moments. The writers handled her backstory with a lot of brief flashback sequences, which harmed the character development. She begins the movie as a stoic warrior and ends the movie as a more powerful stoic warrior.
Jackson steals almost every scene that he is on screen for. He plays Nick Fury, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate). Fury has been in a few of the previous MCU films, such as The Avengers. Jackson has tremendous chemistry with Larson, and every time the script requires him to be funny, he delivers. From his hysterical tone of voice towards Goose the Cat to his “C’mon man!” reactions, it is nearly impossible to envision anyone else playing this role. The de-aging CGI work on Jackson is praiseworthy, because it is nearly unnoticeable.
The villains are not menacing in the movie, because of the wasted opportunities with the idea. The war between the Skrulls and the Krees is about something previously seen in the MCU. I would have liked to see something original causing the war to take place. The Skrulls are only shown doing their shape-shifting a couple of times throughout the movie. During a chase sequence on a train, the Skrulls trick our protagonists by becoming ordinary people and using surprise attacks while undercover. This is easily the most memorable scene from the film, and I wish that this ability was used far more frequently.
It seemed as if the writers were more concerned with making ‘90s references, because it takes place in the ‘90s. Captain Marvel crashes into Blockbuster Video, she is told to get a communicator at Radio Shack, and she wears grunge clothing throughout much of the film. Most of the soundtrack features music from the decade, including grunge and pop. While most of the nostalgia in the film is played for comedy, it relied a bit too heavily on it for my taste.
Captain Marvel is not a revolutionary film that will change film making for years to come. However, it is still a good time at the movies that will keep you entertained for the majority of the two-hour run time. There are a mix of positives and negatives, but I was still left smiling by the end of it. I am more excited than ever for Avengers: Endgame, because of the setup this film created for it. I’ll give Captain Marvel a B-.