Captain Marvel is a fantasy superhero action film based on the Marvel Comics of the same name. It was the 21st film released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first film of the movie franchise to feature a female lead. The film was directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and written by Boden, Fleck, Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve, and Geneva Robertson-Dworet. It was released in 2019 and was an enormous financial success, becoming the year’s fifth-highest-grossing film. At the MTV Movie & TV Awards, the movie was nominated for Best Hero, and won in the category of Best Fight. The film also received three nominations at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Awards in 2019, in the categories of Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture, Best Actress for Brie Larson, and Best Director for Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. And while the film received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics before release, it drastically underperformed in terms of audience ratings.
Brie Larson stars as Carol Danvers, Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role of Nick Fury, Jude Law plays Yon-Rogg, Ben Mandelsohn portrays Talos, Lashana Lynch portrays Maria Rambeau, Lee Pace reprises his role of Ronan, Djimon Hounsou stars as Korath, Clark Gregg reprises his role of Agent Coulson, and Gemma Chan plays Doctor Minerva. The film follows the exploits of Captain Marvel, also known as Carol Danvers, and is set on the planet of Hala, as well as on Earth in the year 1995.
Carol Danvers is a member of the Starforce, an elite task-force led by Yon-Rogg, portrayed by Jude Law. Yet for Carol, Yon-Rogg is more than her commander, as he is also her mentor and seemingly only friend. Carol has powerful abilities, including super strength, speed, stamina, and energy projection, but she isn’t capable of controlling them. Yon-Rogg teaches her that her powers are most efficient when she is in control of her emotions as the two spar inside the Starforce’s base on Hala. The planet and the Kree, an alien race that inhabits it, are ruled by a mysterious artificial intelligence called the Supreme Intelligence, but we don’t get to fully explore the intricacies of life on Hala, as the team has to roll out on mission.
During this mission, Carol is captured by enemy forces, aliens that are called the Skrulls. Every member of this race of aliens has the ability to shapeshift, and they possess highly advanced technology, making them a foe worthy of the Kree’s military prowess. They use a special device to look into Carol’s memory, and their findings point them to Earth. Carol manages to escape confinement just as they’re arriving at their destination, and she is now free to roam 1995 Earth. Soon enough, a young Nick Fury appears, still just as lovably grumpy as his older MCU version. The pair eventually teams up, and Fury tags along on Carol’s journey of self-discovery.
As it turns out, and a fact that’s perfectly obvious to anyone who realized that Carol was human by now, she hails from Earth. And yet, she doesn’t remember living on Earth, or how she got on the Kree planet of Hala. All she knew was that Yon-Rogg saved her, and her feelings of gratitude to him, and the purpose she felt for being part of the Starforce, overwhelmed her sense of curiosity. Still skeptical of her newly-discovered ancestry, she visits military installations, and finally old friends about whom she learns about anew, and finds that her recent life on Hala was built on a terrible lie.
The movie is filled with the trademark Marvel style of humor that intertwines almost perfectly with fun action sequences. In the third act Denvers discovers the true extent of her powers, but something doesn’t quite feel right about it. And this brings us to several of the movie’s biggest faults, ones that impacted the audience scores tremendously once the movie came out. The first among them is Carol’s lack of personality and character growth. Simply put, she isn’t that fun to be around. The movie’s comedy is largely built on the awkward interactions between her, Fury, random citizens and the Skree, but Carol herself is as bland as they come. Sure, she starts out exceedingly powerful, and she ends up even more exceedingly powerful, but outside of that there’s not much interesting about her.
The second is that there is a distinct lack of barriers for Denvers to overcome. She doesn’t need to earn her powers, in the past or the present. She doesn’t have to overcome the burden of her power to become a properly functioning member of society. And aside from having to beat up bad guys every now and then, she isn’t faced with a serious threat that makes her retreat and reconsider her approach. She’s a strong, stoic hero whose only tangible change throughout the story is becoming slightly more self-confident by the end of it.
And the third huge issue with the film has to do with its expectation that its viewers will be excited to learn about Carol’s past. Her past is what the movie deals with for most of its length, but most viewers will have seen enough of that by the first third of the film to connect all the dots. And after that, you’re left looking at Carol slowly trying to do the same. The film has some truly tedious sections as a result, which is a real shame because this could have been easily avoided.
Overall, Captain Marvel is a fun film to watch. The film’s lighthearted comedy offers a great way to enjoy watching it even if you aren’t that into comic book movies. Its action sequences are a delight in themselves, especially the ones taking place in its third act. I felt overwhelmed by them in the best sense. And as long as you can ignore some character and story flow issues, you will likely enjoy the experience of watching this film as well.
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