Final Score: 3.5 / 5
Captain Marvel had a lot riding on it. It is the last MCU movie to show up before the highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame. It is the first time there has been a female lead in the MCU. It's the first time we see a character in the MCU that has cosmic level abilities. So, does the movie go “Higher, Further, Faster” as promised, or does it lack the right stuff to soar among the clouds? Well, you've likely seen the score already, so let's dive into why it got what it got.
This is an origin story, but not completely in the traditional Marvel way. We follow Vers AKA Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) as she trains and goes on missions with the Kree, a humanoid race out in the galaxy hunting Skrulls, a race of shapeshifting aliens. There is early exposure to her abilities as a mission goes sideways, stranding her on Earth. This results in hijinks on Earth sending Carol on a journey to discover who she is. The story is ok, but at times becomes fairly predictable. It's fun, but it's nothing groundbreaking. Admittedly, the second act drags a bit and at times becomes a bit of an exposition dump, however I feel that the third act corrects those mistakes. The dialogue wasn't as cringe-worthy as we thought it could have been, but at a couple of points I rolled my eyes a little bit.
Brie Larson as Captain Marvel embodies the character fully - she is able to mesh a no-nonsense attitude with dry humor and a relatability that makes the character so popular. As she develops throughout the movie, she is paired with other characters, most notably Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson). This is a younger Fury, who is still a badass, but is in the midst of becoming the director we know and love. He is used as the viewer's voice in the movie, realistically reacting to the absurdity of discovering alien life forms. As a mentor character, we are introduced early on to Yon Rogg (Jude Law), who has a militaristic approach through and through, but he has a soft spot for his protege, Vers. Even as the story progresses and he is pitted against Carol, he remains someone who looks to see his protege flourish. Finally, we have the main Skrull in the story, Talos (Ben Mendelssohn). Even though he starts out as an antagonist, he proves to be a victim and an incredibly likable character as he develops throughout the film. The rest of the supporting cast was well selected and I really didn't have any major problems with any of the characters.
The action in the movie was fun. Early on we see a thrilling car/train chase scene, featuring Captain Marvel, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Skrulls. The shapeshifting aspect of the Skrulls kept this interesting and intriguing. We're also treated to Carol as Vers fighting her way out of a Skrull spacecraft, which really flaunted the character's ability to be creative in battle, even without access to her powers. Once she finally gains full access to her powers, Carol is a formidable opponent for even the most powerful creatures in the galaxy.
Here is where the movie faltered the most to me - the visual effects. Up until now, Disney/Marvel have pushed the boundaries of what is possible with visual effects. Largely, the effects in the movie were ok. I was impressed with how the Skrulls looked as they shapeshifted. Carol's powers had an awesome feel to them, but in the third act it came off looking like cheap video game effects, which has been more of the M.O. over at the Distinguished Competition's VFX department. I will however give props to making Goose look as wild and crazy as he did in his spotlight moment.
Here I'll just run through some quick items from the movie I don't want to fully dive into, but be warned, there will be SPOILERS:
Goose was an absolute joy, as was the interaction with Samuel L Jackson.
Yon Rogg and Ronan the Accuser didn't have the overall presence I hoped for. Yon Rogg took a role similar to Batman Begins' Ra's Al Ghul. Ronan felt like a throw in.
I hoped to see more Coulson in the movie, but was genuinely surprised when he was a Skrull mid car chase.
Many people from Captain Marvel's history were included including Minn-Erva, the Supreme Intelligence, and Mar-Vell.
Interesting move to swap the gender of Mar-Vell, but considering the tone of the movie it felt right.
I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the 'villain' of the movie was not killed off. Also I love that the Yon Rogg was so completely and utterly outclassed by Carol.
There were a few real world social issues that came up in this movie (women's empowerment issues, dealing with refugees, etc), but you were never really bludgeoned with them.
I don't think the marketing matched the movie very well. I understand the need to keep details under wraps, but the movie could have been sold as the good time that it was.
As much as I hate doing comparisons, this compares favorably to Wonder Woman. If you liked Wonder Woman, you'll enjoy Captain Marvel.
I liked how the movie served as a sort of MCU prequel and set up many of the things we've seen payoff later on.
I wish we got to see how Djimon Hounsou's Korath went from a "noble" Kree warrior to serving the Mad Titan, Thanos.
I hope that future installments address where she's been these last 20+ years and how she hasn't aged at all.
I did love that little bridge from Captain Marvel to Endgame in the post credit scene. And boy, did she look pissed!
Overall, I thought it was a solid introduction to the character, but some story and visual blunders, as well as some of the dialogue at times weighed, down an otherwise enjoyable experience. Does the movie live up to the “Higher, Further, Faster” moniker? Not quite, but in some ways, it gets damn close. Not a bad first outing for someone who looks to be a cornerstone of the MCU moving forward.