There was always this niggling feeling at the back of my brain. As the release schedule for super hero movies continued to ramp up with no end in sight, the little pessimist in my head would occasionally remind me that there would be a time where I started to tire of seeing super heroes on the big screen.
Thankfully, this isn’t one of those times. While there is an increasing number of movies that seem to be passing me by these days; Aquaman, Venom, Into the Spider-Verse for God’s sake, Captain Marvel was a movie I still went out to see as soon as I possibly could.
The latest hero to be added to the Avengers roster for Endgame is Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel, a Kree/Human hybrid who might just be the most powerful hero to join the ranks so far. This movie is both her origin story and a flashback that helps lead into the events of the final movie in the “Thanos saga.”
Set in the 90s, the Kree Starforce solider known as Vers, played by Brie Larson, is training under Yon-Rogg, played by Jude Law. She is a gifted warrior, but struggles in controlling her emotions during battle, she also, uncharacteristically for a Kree, has a rebellious streak. During a mission gone wrong, Vers finds herself stranded on 1990s Earth, fighting the shape shifting Skrull menace. As fate would have it, while trying to figure out what the Skrull are after, she begins to uncover her own history that started on the planet.
Most of the film takes place on Earth, after “Vers” makes a reluctant partnership with a young Shield agent by the name of Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson. As the two strike up a friendship, they struggle to figure out who they can trust as anyone around them could be a Skrull enemy. Forced to trust one another, they start a search through the American midwest for the truth behind Carol’s hazy memories and the Skrull’s determination to find out about a person in her past.
Everything about Captain Marvel just works. The action is thrilling; the fight scenes are fast and frantic. Where it really shines through is the chemistry and relationship between Carol and Nick Fury. We’ve come a long way since the digital face effects in Tron: Legacy, and the effects that make Sam Jackson look younger are seamless. Clark Gregg on the other hand… eh, not as great, but he’s not in the movie that much, so it’s fine.
Their relationship is one of the main crux’s of the story, their banter and developing friendship showing a softer side of Nick Fury we don’t see in any other movies. In fact, there are a lot of strong relationships between Carol and the other cast members, between her friendship with Mario Rambeau, played by Lashana Lynch as a fellow pilot during her time in the military.
Her relationship with Mar-vell, as a student/mentor and even with Jude Law’s character, as one that starts out as a playful student/mentor, but then shifts as the movie goes on. All strong relationships, not a sniff of anything romantic in any of them. Which is a great step towards the authorial intent of this movie. Which is empowerment.
And it is an empowering movie. I even got a rush towards the end when the full scope of Captain Marvel’s power comes to the forefront, with some amazing visual moments to cap of a great ride. There is some genuinely great catharsis to come from it all after Carol’s life of everyone telling her what she can’t do comes to a grinding halt. At this point, the MCU movies have their tone and structure down to a fine art.
They’re feel good movies for the most part, designed to thrill and entertain. Captain Marvel is the MCU’s stab at a Superman-like character to be sure. But it’s at this point, I feel the need to mention the response this movie has received. There has been a discourse online in negative response to this movie, one I personally cannot understand.
It’s one that boils down to pettiness and fragile egos rather than any genuine problem with the movie, which is a real crappy reason to try and bomb what is a fine film. I’m not going to get too much into the weeds talking about gender and representation here, there are people far more qualified than I am to dig into the importance of this film.
But that isn’t to say I didn’t have some issues with the movie. And bear with me here.
It’s certainly not my favourite entry in the MCU, but that purely comes from the fact that it’s a movie that does not deviate from the mould. It’s one of the safer entries in the mcu in terms of its genre, tone and characters. It’s not a gritty political thriller like Winter Solider or a roguish space opera like Guardians of Thor: Ragnarok.
Rather, it’s a standard origin story movie in the style of Doctor Strange or Ant-Man, it doesn’t over reach and plays things pretty safe. Which is not a real issue when it comes to the movie itself, rather that is something that is entirely bunched up in my personal feelings on this 20+ movie franchise that can’t actually blow my socks off every time.
My one hot take of this movie; wasn’t a huge fan of Goose. A lot of people were getting real excited by the fact that there was a cat in the movie. Sure, I like cats, who doesn’t. But it’s a cat. You can see them anywhere. It wasn’t just that Goose was the Groot-like character of this movie; being cute but also more dangerous than her appears. There’s a moment between the cat and Nick Fury towards the end which is a huge anti-climax of a pay out for a long standing mystery in the MCU’s history.
You can probably guess what I’m talking about, but it felt like a weak payoff for a pretty lacklustre joke at the expense of the character. It’s not actively bad, it’s just my own personal biggest pet peeve about the movie.
I really enjoyed Captain Marvel, while I wasn’t blown away by is as an entry in the greater MCU pantheon, as a movie that stands by itself; it’s fantastic. A highly entertaining blockbuster which will have important implications for young audiences in same way Black Panther and Into the Spiderverse have.
I intend to write a piece about my thoughts regarding the current state of the MCU in the future, but that kind of critical appraisal doesn’t really do anything but belittle my feelings of Captain Marvel, which I genuinely enjoyed. It’s a lot of fun, featuring a strong cast who all seem to be having a great time.