Captain Marvel Movie Review
Captain Marvel Movie Review Metadata
I’m conflicted. Captain Marvel is a really good Marvel origin movie. But so are the nine or ten other origin films that preceded the introduction of this cosmic superhero. FYI…those other Avengers have contributed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as much as ten years now. So yeah – Captain Marvel is a fabulously fun movie, but is she too late to the party to be celebrated?
Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is all that stands in the way of Earth’s total annihilation when our planet is caught between two warring alien species. The Kree are an advanced extraterrestrial military force, led by an A.I. entity called the Supreme Intelligence (Annette Bening), promised to prevent the Skrull from discovering light-speed tech and invading other planets. The Skrull are slick shape-shifting aliens, making them formidable and evasive enemies.
Danvers, or Veers, as her Kree commander and mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) calls her is superhuman, and it isn’t immediately clear how she became involved with the Kree, or how she obtained her powers. We only know that Yon-Rogg is preparing Veers for her first mission on his Starforce team, and that Veers, with the help of the Supreme Intelligence, is trying to piece together her past from remnants of memories and dreams. On her first mission to stop an elite Skrull troop from capturing a Kree spy, Veers is ambushed and captured. She awakes aboard a Skrull starship, commanded by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), who is using a device to extract her memories. As Talos discovers what he’s searching for, Veers escapes and we discover the starship is hovering in Earth’s space. Talos gives chase.
On Earth, Veers’ unsubtle arrival has caught the attention of S.H.E.I.L.D. agent Nicholas Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). At first reluctant, Fury helps Veers intercept the information the Skrull are after on our planet. Also, it’s the 90’s. Battling Skrull along the way, Veers and Fury’s investigation leads them to believe Veers is a deceased pilot named Carol Danvers and that her fellow soldier and best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) may have more information on what the duo were working on with NASA/USAF scientist Dr. Wendy Lawson (also Annette Bening).
Dr. Lawson died, along with the presumed-dead Captain Danvers, in a training exercise when their aircraft was attacked by an unknown alien spacecraft. On board their aircraft was an energy source meant to power a light-speed engine, and the target of the alien spacecraft’s pilot. In a standoff with the assailant, Danvers destroyed the energy source, but the explosion nearly killed her and imbued her with its energy. Danvers, and the alien, were never seen from again.
While the puzzle comes together on Danvers’ past, the mission of the Skrull to obtain light-speed travel is imminent, thus the Kree are advancing toward Earth to eliminate them. With Danver’s realization Earth is her home and that she contains vastly more power than she ever realized, she has to protect Earth from the collateral damage of getting caught in the crosshairs.
There’s some other details I’d love to share with you and it pains me to leave out how Mar-Vell (also Annette Bening), the Tesseract (the Space Stone), and an orange cat named “Goose” all play into the story, but some things are better left for you to discover without the film getting completely spoiled before you’ve even had the chance to see it…because you know you will.
With Phase Three, Act One, of the MCU nearing its curtain drop this April with Avengers: Endgame, Kevin Feige is leading us to believe that Captain Marvel will be the savior in this near-flawless roadmap to clean-up Thanos’ mess. That after 4,011 days since RDJ invented his portable arc reactor and saved the day in an armored suit, Brie Larson just gets to sweep in in the last 30ish to save the day???
No, certainly not.
There’s no doubt in my mind Marvel plays a huge role in the finale, but I don’t believe she’s the endgame hero. The MCU, whether you hate these big-budget CGI-fests or not, is successful largely because, of course Feige’s hand, but every character contribution from Hulk to Ant-man.[this suddenly feels like a statement I should be saving for April]
With that in mind, it’s silly to discount Marvel only because she’s seemingly getting shoehorned in-between Avenger’s films, or that without her, there’d never even been an Avengers team (you’ll understand in the last 10 minutes of the film, about-wherein we also learn how Fury got his gnarly eye-scar) to begin with. I believe the introduction of Larson’s hero is just a link to MCU: Act Two. I casually mentioned Mar-Vell earlier, but there is certainly more to explore in a sequel. Jude Law is kicking-it somewhere in the Universe – I’d like to see where Yon-Rogg and Marvel’s paths cross again. Ben Mendelsohn practically steals the show – can we explore the Skroll more in-depth?
Critiquing Captain Marvel solely on his own merits encourages this critic to recommend you disregard the Rotten Tomatoes and Brie Larson dramas that unfolded earlier this year. Just let that go for a few hours. Even when the film can’t decide from being Ragnarok or Civil War in its tone – and it is mildly jarring jumping from goofy to soul-searching – Captain Marvel narrowly achieves a balance that doesn’t completely remove the viewer from the film. I successfully followed the story and understood where directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were taking me in Danvers’ journey of self-discovery. Checkmark.
If anything, marvel at the CGI (yeah, I know) and young Sam Jackson, bob your head to the marvelous 90’s soundtrack. If you’re a casual fan…you’ll have fun. If you’re more serious…you’ll get a kick out of the interconnecting MCU details. If you’re a die hard, well I dunno, you should be fine too, although fanboys will find something to get upset about (like the aforementioned shoehorning). Either way, I’m recommending it.