Captain Marvel, directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck is the 21st installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, marking the long-awaited debut of Carol Danvers. Now, don’t let the trailers fool you. Captain Marvel is a joyful ride which while taking from the signature Marvel formula, does manage to shake it up a bit.
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Starting off with Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) already being a member of the Kree Starforce, we go along with her on a journey of self discovery. Now, to start off with her already having acquired her powers is a great way to distinguish the movie from the rest of the origin stories in the MCU. In that, the film almost has a Bourne Identity feel to it, with us learning about Danvers’ past along with her.
To get the obvious concern out of the way- Yes, Brie Larson is good in the role. While having an Oscar winner as your lead always helps, bad marketing seldom does the same. The marketing for Captain Marvel has been rather bland, but fortunately the movie itself squashes those trailers to dirt. It’s evident here that Marvel Studios has grounded themselves as a studio with strong storytellers, and Danvers’ story is one of the MCU’s best. If a bit complex and lacking in style.
The film is 123 minutes long, and with that, it’s pretty evident that some things may have been left in the cutting room. While there are no plot threads missing, and the film does breeze through, it does feel like they tried to cram in too much. This film has a lot of holes to fill in, starting from Danvers’ origin story (which in the comics is complex in itself) to introducing the Kree-Skrull war, to the inclusion of SHIELD.
Speaking of SHIELD Samuel L. Jackson is, as always, a delight. His young Nick Fury is a nuanced, yet toned down take on the master spy. And yet, there are still all the classic Fury mannerisms that we all love about the character. He’s not as distrustful or mysterious as in the present-day MCU, and he still has that child-like wonder light up when lasers are being shot at him. Keeping in mind that this is his first interaction with a superhero and that it is this event which prompts him to kickstart the Avengers initiative, it’s done really well. Oh and the de-aging magic that Marvel has done here is incredible.
Talking about mysterious characters, Ben Mendelsohn Skrull leader Talos and Jude Law’s Yonn Rogg also provide strong performances. As to how those performances play out, I think it’s best you find that out on your own. There are certain plot elements that forbid me (and my conscience) from spilling the beans as this is a spoiler-free review. Rest assured though as both actors have an important role here. A special mention needs to be given to Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau and of course the cat Goose.
Now, it wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without spectacular action now, would it? Well, the action’s there, but it’s not necessarily spectacular. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck may have understood the underlying story about Carol Danvers, but some clarity in designing action sequences would have helped. The action is certainly serviceable, but it never draws any special attention to it. Couple that with the movie’s bland lighting and it never really pops out of the screen. Tonally the film feels like a cross between Captain America: Winter Soldier and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.
The film also uses its’ setting effectively enough, with the 90s shown with a nostalgic care which never draws too much attention to itself. With plenty of slow internet jokes and even a Blockbuster store in the movie, it infuses humor in typical Marvel fashion. I only wish that the movie had a more unique look or feel to it, especially given the abundance of superhero movies out there.
P.S There are 2 post credits scenes. Make sure you don’t leave the theaters before watching either of them.