I was worried going into “Captain Marvel.” The trailers and advertising were bland and left much to be desired, and most of the initial reviews seemed to brush it off as a mediocre filler film meant to build up the hype for the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame.” After seeing it in theaters, I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. While my fears weren’t entirely unfounded (the film did have definite problems), I found “Captain Marvel” exciting and entertaining and far more enjoyable than I expected it to be.
Marvel’s first female-led film takes place in in 1995 and stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, a human woman with no memory taken in by the alien species known as the Kree. The Kree have allowed Carol to develop superhuman powers in order to use her as a weapon in the war against their archenemies, the Skrull, a war in which Carol serves with gusto until a series of events causes her to crash land in a Blockbuster video rental store on Earth and confront the past she doesn’t remember. After joining forces with everyone’s favorite SHIELD operative, a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Carol begins to realize that the life she thought she led might not be what it appeared to be.
The strongest part of the film in my opinion was the story. The entire movie was very plot driven, which is understandable as its main purpose was to introduce and explain the backstory of Carol Danvers, the first Marvel character since Dr. Strange to get a solo film without previously being introduced in another movie. I really loved how the filmmakers played with Carol’s amnesia so that her memories weren’t just explained to the audience through flashbacks. Rather, they found a way to put a twist on the flashback format that provided background, characterization and comedy all in one scene.
Another strong point in the film was the array of side characters. Fury was without a doubt my favorite part of the whole thing. We’re used to seeing him as the no-nonsense director of SHIELD who knows everything about everybody, but here he’s still working his way up the ranks and has never seen an alien before. It allows the audience to view a different side to his character, and adds a whole other layer to the MCU. Another well done character was Talos, a Skrull commander who is central to Carol’s discovery of her past. I won’t get into his backstory because of spoilers, but he’s just another example of how good Marvel is at balancing comedy and drama.
However, like I said earlier, there were a few elements that were lacking. Unlike the rest of the characters, Carol never really felt real. Her relationships with these characters felt authentic and believable (the best scenes were those that simply had Carol and Fury interacting with each other), but when it came time for her to stand on her own she reverted back to being bland and stilted. There seemed to be too much effort put into plotting out her backstory and not enough in fleshing out her character, which became obvious in scenes when she didn’t have other characters to help her have a personality. While this was a problem, it wasn’t much of an issue until the final fight sequence, as prior to that Carol usually had someone to play off around her.
Some people have also had a problem with the villain (who I won’t reveal because his/her identity is somewhat of a twist). He/she definitely isn’t as well-developed as the past several Marvel villains have been, so I can understand why that final conflict could leave something to be desired for some people. It didn’t really bother me because the antagonist wasn’t that important to the plot. The story was more focused on Carol’s journey of self discovery, and the villain was just that final hurdle before the finish line. The film worked without the villain being a highly developed character.
I enjoyed “Captain Marvel” despite its flaws, but you’ll have to see it for yourself to make your own judgment. Personally, I think that fans of Marvel’s previous films will be entertained easily enough. And just in case you do go to see it, here’s a friendly reminder to wait until the very end of the movie before you leave the theater, because that end credits scene… well, we’re in the endgame now.