Captain Marvel Review
Are you ready for the new (Captain) Marvel Cinematic Universe?
As we eagerly await Endgame, does this prove the linchpin to the future of the entire MCU or just a filler repurposed as an agenda-laden flagship?The Marvel juggernaut is unstoppable, and that's hardly something to complain about since it's given us some truly seminal superhero movies which have transcended anything anybody could have ever rightly expected from the genre.
From the first Iron Man film to the milestone event that was the first Avengers team-up, to the game-changing Captain America: The Winter Soldier and wonderfully, surprisingly, fun Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel may have some less worthy entries, but the overall standard is very good, and it's that consistency that maintains audience loyalty.
What other Studio could have possibly brought the previously inconceivable left-field superhero characters like Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Ant-Man and the aforementioned Guardians to life on the Big Screen. Done it damn well. And made them into billion dollar properties?
Infinity War was the culmination of a decade of world-building and character development. And with the Endgame conclusion coming in just a few short weeks, the only missing piece of the puzzle is the character called in (in one of the end credits stingers no less) at the end of Infinity War. Indeed the very fact that she was called suggests that she may be the key to not only defeating the sympathetic overlord Thanos but also undoing the population-decimating destruction said God rained upon the earth.
It isn't the vital missing piece to the puzzle on the run up to Endgame that some might have hoped for.
Captain Marvel throws us into the narrative in media res, twisting and turning an intentionally mysterious plot involving an alien warrior - a member of the elite Spec Ops team Starforce - who has strange dreams of events that she can't remember from her past, and ends up on Earth, teaming up with a certain young(er) Agent Nick Fury to battle alien invaders and find the key to unlocking her past and perhaps even her future.
It's a frequently fun outing, bookended by blazing action, with a middle stretch that enjoys a kind-of alien-human buddy-buddy action comedy vibe with plenty of fish-out-of-water scenes and some nostalgic nods to the 90s. What it isn't, is the vital missing piece to the puzzle that some might have hoped for in the run up to Endgame. Instead, there's a curiously commercial feel about the production - as if it were more important to start building the blocks towards the future Avengers than anything else (albeit not as commercial a decision as announcing a new movie about a character that Infinity War ostensibly killed).
More than just the potential key to Endgame, Brie Larson's Captain Marvel was already rumoured to be the potential driving force for the new Avengers ('Phase Four') that will arrive in the post-Endgame universe, and this film only confirms that. Yet, in an unusual move for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this one doesn't feel in the slightest bit earned, packing an awful lot of complex origin story into a character who - by the end of it - we still hardly know, and are barely starting to care about.
Larson herself is remarkably unremarkable, perhaps handicapped by the role (which frequently necessitates her acting like a cross between Kristanna Loken in Terminator 3 and a sarcastic 6 year old) but bringing very little tonal balance to the character. She enjoys her best scenes opposite Lieutenant Trouble and Sam Jackson's Fury - the latter of which absolutely steals the entire movie. With flawless de-ageing, he looks like he's having the most fun he's had in the last 20-odd movies.
A solid entry; a little overlong, a little undercooked, but nicely nostalgic, with a great buddy-buddy riff between Larson's straight lace hero and Jackson's wise-cracking sidekick
Larson is an accomplished actress, but it's a tough character to bring to life, particularly in such a diverse universe of already established superheroes, and her almost complete lack of emotions leave any brief moments of whooping and hollering (particularly towards the end) completely at odds with the almost snarky automaton she spends most of the movie being.
What Marvel has done with this film, is made a valiant effort towards a female-driven franchise in the vein of Wonder Woman. A trio of all-female warrior-pilots (Annette Bening and Lashana Lynch, both much more interesting than the lead character) form the core heroes of the piece, and there are plenty of girl power moments (the songs are a little on the nose, but the Amelia Earhart dress-up was a nice touch).
It's also not like all of their other origin stories have stuck the landing. Downey Jr.'s Iron Man set the bar quite high for a series of less auspicious introductions: Hulk, Thor and Captain America struggled on the first outings, with the game-changing Winter Soldier redefining a character who was previously an insufferably earnest super-patriot.
Even Black Panther had a warm-up in Civil War; a testing ground where he could afford to be a little unfinished, before coming across as much more polished in his solo outing. Captain Marvel just needs a little time, and perhaps a slightly warmer direction, although certainly her powers will be more than welcome in Endgame - and that's the only final act 10 minute element which will leave fans punching the air in anticipation of what Thanos is in store for. That and the cat.
Captain Marvel is a solid enough entry in the Marvel pantheon but Endgame can't come soon enough
After the fantastic music scores in both Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok, Captain Marvel also struggles to find its footing here, pulling out some of those aforementioned 90s tracks to colour the piece in, and using some distinctly Rangarok-ian electronic vibes for the space stuff, but not quite nailing a signature tune until perhaps after the credits have rolled. Visually, it's nigh on perfect, with wonderfully realised worlds that would only be possible in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to the likes of Guardians and Ragnarok, one of the best CG crash sequences, and some fantastic powers for our heroine (even if she does start all Iron Fist).
Captain Marvel is a solid enough entry in the Marvel pantheon, a little overlong, a little undercooked, but nicely nostalgic and colourfully fun, with a great central buddy-buddy riff between Larson's straight lace hero and Jackson's wise-cracking sidekick, some nice early T2-esque face-stealing tension, and - eventually - some kick-ass displays of supreme power. But Endgame can't come soon enough.
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