The last time we saw the Avengers, half of them were turning into dust after Thanos snapped his fingers and eliminated half of all the living beings in the galaxy. In one of the post-credit sequences following Avengers: Infinity War, we saw Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) watch chaos and pandemonium go down around him and he immediately orders the Code Red, and proceeds to take out a communication device and begins to contact someone before he too disappears into a cloud of dust. On his communication device, we see the logo of one Captain Marvel. At this moment we don’t know anything about Captain Marvel, but the fact that Nick Fury saw the world falling before his eyes and he called her means she must be pretty bad ass and incredibly powerful. The idea of a Captain Marvel movie made sense because it would show what this new, powerful hero can do.
There are two ways Marvel could have gone about this. The first way would have been a typical origin story like Iron Man, Captain America, and Ant-Man, a tried-and-true way that has yet to fail Marvel and even been adopted by other studios (notice the shift in D.C. movies?). Or, they could have thrown us into the world right away, like in Black Panther, and have us see what this character’s life is like and see their powers first hand and become immersed in their world. The problem is that Captain Marvel is a combination of both of those kinds of movies, yet doesn’t have any of the positive traits those movies possess.
At the center of this movie is Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), real name Carol Danvers, a woman who we meet under the name of Vers on the planet of Hala, the capital of the Kree Civilization. She’s a feisty, cocky soldier being trained by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) both physically and emotionally, as Yon-Rogg claims Vers lets her emotions get in the way of her fighting and the utilization of her powers. During a fight with their shape-shifting enemies, the Skrulls, Vers is taken by head-Skrull Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), where he uses a device to see inside her mind. Vers sees herself on Earth as an Air Force pilot, getting in a crash, and some past experiences from her childhood, yet doesn’t believe they are real. Vers eventually breaks free from Talos and jumps on a ship that crash-lands on to Earth. Vers is met by Nick Fury (Jackson) and the two set off to find the Skrulls that have followed Vers to Earth. But during this journey, Vers begins to realize that she may not be who she thinks she is and that the memories she saw may actually be real. As Vers begins to figure out her true identity, she begins to discover the powers that she truly possesses.
There is a lot going on in this movie and at a runtime of under two hours (something I usually don’t complain about) it is hard to fit everything into this movie successfully. We have the growth of Carol Danvers and her multiple journeys of finding out what her true identity is as well as her fully becoming Captain Marvel and realizing how powerful she really is. We have Vers story and her trying to become a better soldier for the Kree. There is what actually happened to Carol in her past, which is really summed up in only a matter of minutes, though could be its own movie. There’s the battle between the Kree and the Skrulls on Earth and in space along with other space stuff including characters that we have seen in past movies (no, not Thanos) showing up and giving away the “spoiler” twist at the end of the film. With all of this plot going on, there isn’t a central story for us to grab on to. Nothing is fleshed out enough to make us care and all of it feels like exposition in order to get the film to its finale when we see Captain Marvel in full form.
Larson does everything she can to make this character click and it works. She is great and is sure to be a cultural icon for sometime following this. Jackson is once again great as Fury, getting more to do in this movie than any other MCU movie. The de-aging technology to make him look younger might be the best I’ve seen since Fincher’s Winklevii magic in The Social Network. And, to no surprise, we find out why Fury is wearing an eye-patch and it is quite disappointing. I almost wish they had a bit throughout the movie where Fury kept getting his left eye hit or shot at throughout the movie, forcing us to wonder “is this the time?” That would have added a lot of humor to a movie that lacked a lot of the comedy and fun we’ve expected from an MCU movie. Jude Law is doing his Jude Law thing as Yon-Rugg, Ben Mendolsohn is incredible as Talos, and the film completely wastes the great Annette Benning in a role that should have been more developed and gotten its own movie.
Captain Marvel does give us a little more information about our hero going into End Game and is an important movie in terms of being the first female-led MCU movie and being an empowering movie for young girls everywhere to watch and be inspired by. But this movie only serves as a stepping stone to get us to End Game and isn’t actually concerned about Captain Marvel as a hero and Carol Danvers as a character. Carol Danvers deserved her own movie, about her life and her growth as a person. Captain Marvel deserved her own movie to get use to her powers and use them to fight against another power. We even could have gotten a Vers movie and watch how that played out and become immersed in the Kree civilization. But instead, we get bits of each of these movies jumbled together in a movie that never truly knows what it wants to be, ultimately making Captain Marvel one of the more disappointing entries in the MCU.
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