With twenty-one films currently making up the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one has to be chagrined that it took this long for the studio to give us a superhero movie with a female lead — it took the DC Extended Universe only four films to break out Wonder Woman, yet we’re still waiting for a Black Widow movie — but now the studio has given us Captain Marvel, a character who is not only a female superhero but also arguably the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe.
For those of you in the dark, this particular movie is a prequel, which is to set-up the big final showdown with Thanos in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame — we had that nice credit cookie in Avengers: Infinity War where Nick Fury paged for help just before being dusted by the snap — so with this film, we learn why Captain Marvel would be a good person to call when facing such a cosmic threat.
Captain Marvel takes place in the year 1995 — brace yourself for the 90s soundtrack — but the movie doesn’t open on the familiar confines of Earth, but instead on the Kree Empire’s capital planet of Hala, where we are introduced to a Starforce warrior named Vers (Brie Larson) and her mentor/commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), as they prepare to go on a dangerous mission to rescue an undercover Kree agent. Sadly, things do not go as planned. Now I’ve got to hand it to the people over at Marvel Studios for once again having the balls to throw the viewer into a completely alien environment without feeling the need to bog us down with narration and overbearing exposition. We quickly learn that the Kree Empire has been fighting a centuries-long war with a race of shapeshifting aliens called the Skrull — who can imitate anyone right down to their DNA — but when Vers is captured by Skrull soldiers during an ambush, and is forcibly subjected to a memory probe by a Skrull named Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), we discover that this brave Kree warrior has buried memories of growing up on Earth as an Airforce pilot by the name of Carol Danvers, and it’s this revelation that propels the story forward.
Captain Marvel is not only saddled with all the inherent problems of being an origin story — having to get a lot of information out before actually getting to the meat of the plot — but it also has to deal with being a prequel and all that baggage that comes with that. Unfortunately, this is where the film stumbles a bit. The events in this film are presented as the reason for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) pushing S.H.I.E.L.D. into creating the Avengers Initiative (to deal with stuff like alien invasions and forces the Earth’s military can’t handle), but it had already been established that it was the coming of Thor and Loki which had prompted Fury and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) to see about assembling super-powered back-up. This kind of sloppy retconning isn’t something I expected from the people over at Marvel — after two decades of world-building you’d think somebody would have been taking notes. Despite such intrinsic flaws in the timeline, this movie still works rather well, especially when it sets aside the cosmic battles for a while and turns into a buddy cop film, with Fury and Danvers driving around trying to figure out just who she is and what exactly the Skrulls are after.
Captain Marvel is jam-packed with action, humour, and a plethora of visual thrills that will enthrall even the most jaded viewer — except maybe those certain individuals who seem to have a personal vendetta against Brie Larson — and the entire cast all put in excellent work to give this epic story enough weight, yet also with enough moments of levity so that the film doesn’t become too self-important or tedious. Do you want glorious space battles? This film certainly has those. How about that trademark Marvel humour that doesn’t always work? *Check* and *Double Check*. Are there cool fights that will keep you on the edge of your seat? This movie has that in spades, which is certainly reason enough to see this film on the big screen.
• It was nice to see Ronan the Accuser from Guardians of the Galaxy making an appearance, as this really helps make the films all seem more connected.
• The de-aging CGI for Agent Coulson was not always at its best and was somewhat jarring at times.
• How Nick Fury lost his eye is finally answered. So that’s nice, I guess.
• Ben Mendelsohn has seriously become the go-to guy for scary opponents.
• Hey look, we get more of that Tesseract MacGuffin stuff again. *sigh*
• I’m still fuzzy as to why Nick Fury didn’t call Captain Marvel during the events of the first Avengers movie.
As part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Captain Marvel is a solid enough entry, not on par with the likes of Captain America: Civil War, but easily landing somewhere along the middle tier, and with her opening up the possibilities of more cosmic adventures, such as teaming up with the likes of the Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m even more excited to see what they will do with her character after Avengers: Endgame. Overall, Captain Marvel is an entertaining romp that beautifully expands the larger MCU narrative.
Captain Marvel (2019)
Movie Rank - 6/10
Setting aside the film’s unique position in the gender inequality conversation Captain Marvel is still an excellent installment in continually improving franchise, one with enough twists and turns that will make most comic book fans quite happy.