Captain Marvel - 2019
Director(s): Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Writer(s): Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Cinematography by: Ben Davis
Editor(s): Debbie Berman and Elliot Graham
Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Lee Pace, Rune Temte, Clark Gregg, Algenis Perez Soto and Djimon Hounsou
Some may argue that Marvel peaked last year with the combination of Black Panther and Avengers Infinity War. Mainly due to the scope of the latter. So I cannot help to feel the creeping feeling of uninterest towards the movies released (Ant-Man and the Wasp/Captain Marvel) in between Infinity War and its conclusion Endgame coming out in a few months this year. Also, I hoped they would take the route they took with Black Panther in Civil War, and introduce Captain Marvel in the group setting and then give her a film of her own, avoiding the significant trappings of an origin story. Either way, I pushed my feelings aside to let the film wash over me, and I walked away with a general sense of... OK, that was a perfectly enjoyable time. Let's talk about it.
The story takes place in 1995, years before what we know to be the "birth" of the MCU. It follows Vers (Larson) a member of the Starforce army of the Kree Empire. Vers suffers from recurring nightmares, that feel like fragments from her forgotten past. Her regiment, led by her mentor Yon-Rogg (Law), is sent take out a group of Skrulls, shapeshifting aliens and main enemies of the Kree. Vers is separated from her regiment and crash lands on Earth, along with a group of Skrulls. Suddenly she finds herself caught in intergalactic war and a search for answers of her past life on Earth.
I was glad to see that my main concern of the contrived origin story did not come to fruition, as the writers took a non-conventional route of introducing Captain Marvel to the MCU. We are slowly introduced to her backstory and what makes her tick as a superhero, and never slowing down the action and the progress of the plot. It does take a bit for the story to pick up as the opening is a little clunky - training session of Yon-Rogg and Vers set to weird rhythmic music. The third act is a bit underwhelming as the villains don't impose a threat to our hero, but overall the film is a good entry into the MCU. The relationships are the core of the story, especially between Fury (Jackson) and Vers. I stand by my opinion that she should’ve been introduced within Endgame since at this point even the staples (Thor, Hulk, Captain America) are doing team movies under the guise of “stand-alone" (Thor Ragnarok and Civil War).
Quick note: the constant reminder that "we are in the 90s" got to be annoying after a while. Didn't kill the vibe my enjoyment, but it was too self-aware of the decade.
The action sequences once again are very well executed as one comes to from an MCU film. The film mixed it up with a combination of fist fights and spaceship battles. The special effects overall are solid, with the de-aging of Jackson being by far the best they have done so far - to the point that it is a bit jarring to see. I don’t think I have ever seen him that young in an acting role. He looks older in Coming to America. I loved that they used practical effects for the Krulls as nothing beats a tangible creation in my eyes. Ben Mendelsohn embraced this and gave a wonderful performance through the make-up.
Brie Larson as Vers/Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel is good and it feels like she has much room to grow into her role, similar to how I felt when I first saw Cumberbatch as Strange. I liked her humor as it is more sarcastic than quippy like 95% of the rest of the heroes. Samuel L. Jackson is his usual self as he has played Fury for over a decade. Jude Law and the rest of the Starforce are serviceable. Also, Annette Bening and Lashana Lynch are fantastic in their roles, and they helped deliver key monologues that motivate Carol to push forward when things get tough. They are the connection missing at the beginning of the film, as the audience is trying to understand who Vers is as a person.
Captain Marvel is a solid entry into the MCU and a great addition to the growing list of diverse superheroes. The story is entertaining, and it gives us a unique origin story, even if the set up takes a while for it to hit home. While it is far from perfect, and the third act could've been better with a complex and powerful villain, I had a way more fun than what I expected. I look forward to seeing what she does in Endgame and how she plays with the other established superheroes.
Captain Marvel is Glass Half Full.
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