Captain Marvel doesn’t break any new ground in the superhero genre, however, it’s one hell of an enjoyable ride.
Carol Danvers aka Vers aka Captain Marvel is a former Airforce pilot-turned-Kree-warrior-turned-superhero who gets thrust back to a mid-90’s era Earth from her alien homeland, where she has to track down a former Airforce pilot and scientist (played by Annette Benning) and solve the mystery surrounding her work on a powerful energy source. The energy source is also sought after by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), a shapeshifting Skrull commander who has his own plans for it and will stop at nothing to get it. Fellow Kree warrior Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and Nick Fury (a younger, digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson) are also entwined in the adventure as secrets are uncovered and allegiances are altered in this cosmic space adventure from Marvel Studios.
With all the different characters and multiple twists and turns and plotlines, Captain Marvel may come across as convoluted on paper, however, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck manage to handle all the various threads quite well, resulting in the audience never getting too confused by it all. It’s a commendable effort by the directing duo considering the majority of the characters in the film are new additions to the Marvel cinematic universe. Furthermore, the story beats are expertly paced, with a good mix action, drama and humour spread across the length of the film without leaning too much into one aspect over another. The dramatic elements fall a bit flat sometimes and feel emotionally void, however, the exciting action makes up for any shortcomings there.
The film is set in the ’90s and the influences are evident, featuring characters, worlds and set pieces that could fit right into ’90s TV series’ like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Macgyver. The whole film generally feels like a modernised ’90s action-film homage, which works in its favour. Sure, it has all the typical Marvel formula stuff we expect in origin films from the studio, but it still feels somewhat different and new. Of course, the fact that Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is a new character helps that along.
Larson is a perfect fit for the character and her acting range is diverse, turning on the humour and charm when needed as well as never missing a dramatic beat. He character is an amnesiac that can only remember trinkets of her past and it’s here where the filmmakers may have failed to capitalise, missing the chance to play on the fish-out-of-water angle when she lands on Earth. Nevertheless, Larson doesn’t disappoint. The supporting cast pay their due diligence in keeping the story flowing, all turning in great performances with Ben Mendelsohn at the front of the pack. The only negative coming from Mendelsohn is that at times it felt as though he was playing just Ben, and not the villainous Skrull leader Talos (probably a directing fault rather than an acting one, though).
Captain Marvel is Marvel’s first female-led superhero film and it’s obvious that it’s what they’ve been missing after 20 films. Brie Larson carries the weight of the film on her shoulders and succeeds, and the Marvel formula is the glue that binds it all together. The film is action-packed and features some beautiful visual effects and production design, sending viewers across the galaxy in a scintillating fashion. Some viewers may feel as though they’ve seen it all before, however, it’s still a great progression in Marvel’s dominance of the fantasy-adventure space of modern cinema.
Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance, which he filmed prior to his death in 2018. This is probably his second to last cameo, as it is reported that he will also have a cameo in Avengers: Endgame.