The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in that place just before going supernova with Avengers: Endgame, there's tremendous hype and just prior we're treated to the origin story of Captain Marvel. Will Captain Marvel be for Marvel what Wonder Woman was for the DC universe? After all, Wonder Woman not only proved female superheroes to be viable at the box office but also renewed confidence in DC movies after some less than stellar efforts. Marvel, on the other hand, has been largely on form with their many films, though it's easy to forget not all of them have been as good as say, Black Panther, Logan, and the Avengers films. Sadly, Captain Marvel serves as a reminder of what superhero movies used to be, in some ways paying tribute to the old Superman films as well as reminding us of some of our least favourite Marvel films in recent years (like the first Thor and Captain America films, or going back the third X-Men flick). Great actors delivering one-dimensional and flat characters without any real sense of conviction.
The kind of acting that landed Brie Larson an Oscar for Room is nowhere to be seen here and whether it's down to the character being written that way or not, it just feels a bit underwhelming as Larson uses a minimal range of emotions to portray the Captain. Jude Law is another underperformer, and while Samuel L. Jackson always shines it's one of his least captivating performances as Nick Fury. Props for the magnificent makeup work on Jackson though, we're not sure if he looked as young as this in 1995.
The plot is your typical origin story, where Carol Danvers (Vers) is adopted by the Kree, and deceived into believing the Skrull are a threat to them. She suffers amnesia and discovers her true origin and the truth about the Kree, the Skrull, and her powers as the movie goes on. As the movie is set in 1995 (we liked that it's not yet another 1980s nostalgia trip), it sets up many things in later Marvel movies including how Nick Fury lost his eye. There's some decent fan service here, and surprisingly this along with the more humorous sections (Flerken!) are what's best about this film. There's some decent action as well, but sadly the incredible power of Captain Marvel once fully unleashed makes for some rather disappointing final scenes. If we make an analogy to Superman it would be a bit like Clark Kent punting that football early on, to flying counter-clockwise around the planet to reverse time in the very next scene.
This is going to send us somewhat into spoiler territory, but as we saw the first scene with "Vers" (soon to be Captain Marvel) and her mentor Yon-Rogg (played by Jude Law), a cynical comic book aficionado next to us remarked that this will be reprised in the final showdown of the film. The script really is that predictable. It's disappointingly by the numbers, without any major twists or surprises, and the more familiar you are with the Marvel universe the less eventful it will feel. The felt a bit on the long side, yet not substantial enough, and then motivational flashback scenes, well, it was meant to provoke a sense of righteous revenge in us, but instead it had us shaking our heads.
A great setting (the mid-90s are something we'll hopefully see more of in the future), brilliant music, some fun moments, and good effects can't hide the fact that this is one of the least inspired Marvel films in recent years. It's not terrible and would perhaps make for a good movie night with friends who tend to talk a lot over movies, but viewed next to the likes of Wonder Woman, which it will no doubt be compared to, it falls short. It's already a major box office success, but unfortunately, it's not one of Marvel's best efforts.
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