Reel Reviews | Captain Marvel

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

The long awaited debut of one of the most powerful superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe who also happens to be female is finally here in Captain Marvel.

Vers (Brie Larsen) is a Kree warrior hero who has no recollection of her life prior to six years ago when she was revived on the Kree homeworld, Hala but she has dreams of life prior to being the warrior hero with glowing fists.

When she is given a mission to rescue a fellow Kree warrior from the clutches of the Skrulls, Vers is captured and soon she realizes that not only are her dreams real but nothing is as it seems. In order to recover her lost memories, she must travel to Earth and claim her true destiny.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been sincerely devoid of female superheroes and since the debut of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) first in Batman v. Superman and then in her own movie, the clamor for a Marvel counterpart has been through the roof. Sure there have been Black Widow (Scarlett Johannsen) whose character has been around almost since the beginning and The Scarlett Witch who was introduced just recently but there are detractions to each. Black Widow, like Hawkeye, is just a woman with a set of special skills and no superpowers and Scarlett Witch (Elisabeth Olsen) is a converted villain who has superpowers (can we say mutant powers yet?) but has not shown her true capabilities. Only now with the release of Captain Marvel has Marvel Studios truly answered the call.

Written and directed by Anna Bolden and Ryan Fleck, who collaborated on 2006’s critical darling, Half Nelson, the couple works to their strength of bringing to life another story of a troubled person seeking to uncover a secret. In this case, it is Carol Danvers/Vers/Captain Marvel who is on a course of self-discovery. The problem with the movie is a true lack of emotion. While Carole Danvers is accused of being too emotional, her outbursts seem credible and reasonable to those watching. The story does lack some of the punch that other Marvel films have given over the last twenty films. It drags through its introduction and accelerates the pace a little when the scene is set on Earth.

Oscar winner Brie Larson is swapped out for Oscar winner Ryan Gosling in this film but this film will not garner any notice from the academy. Larson is adequate in the role of Carole Danvers. She gives the searching soldier an earnest yet restrained persona but the performance of Jude Law is little more than an afterthought. In fact, short of Samuel L. Jackson’s performance as a younger, greener and two-eyed Agent Nick Fury, this movie belongs to the women. Lashana Lynch, who plays Maria Rambeau, almost steals the movie and is the emotional core of the film. Also, it is super-cool to see Monica Rambeau, played delightfully by Akira Akbar, for those fans who know what lies in the future for her.

The movie is a triumph for those who want to see a sincere female superhero and taken at its surface the movie is decently good. However, the film falls short of the quality work that has come before it. For those who are fans of Captain Marvel, the film glosses over the character and substitutes in-depth character work for a kick-butt soundtrack of 90’s hits (of mostly female stars).

Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action and brief suggestive language, Captain Marvel is an interesting response to Marvel’s competitors and detractors. The movie is an origin story of course but unlike other origin stories in this universe, the hero finds herself at the same time as the viewers. While this is a clever but, not original device, to use in telling the story, it comes across devoid of the emotion that it ascribes as a fault of the lead character. In the end, viewers are less likely to feel like they have experienced the coming out of one of the most powerful women in the MCU and more like they have seen a feeder movie to Avengers: Endgame.

Note: Don’t be late for the movie or you will miss one of the best opening sequences that Marvel has ever done! There is one mid-credit scene and another post-credit scene so don’t leave either!

Grade B-