The Great and Powerful Marvel
The past few years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been pretty experimental, having small scale team ups, sequels, and previously established characters in one movie show up in their own standalone movie. It’s for this reason that coming back to the original origin story formula for a Marvel movie feels like a step backwards for the franchise with Captain Marvel. Like the earlier Marvel movies there are moments of greatness and true entertainment that will appease all audiences, but there is also a lack of focus and direction for the entire story leading to a lot of confusion. Captain Marvel succeeds in some aspects and gives a decent introduction to a character who could be a game-changer in Avengers: Endgame, but it hails in comparison to other films in the franchise.
Carol Danvers is a Kree warrior who fights alongside an elite team in a war against the enemy Skrulls. She has distant memories of a life on Earth but can’t seem to piece together where she comes from. When she lands back on Earth, she is thrust into an adventure to protect Earth from the Skrull aliens while also discovering who she is and what her purpose is in the process.
Honestly the film’s plot was pretty confusing for me and at times a little bit jarring. The exposition in the beginning goes by too fast for us to establish what kind of world Captain Marvel is from and doesn’t dive in deeper to this conflict between the Krees and the Skrulls. Why is there conflict? What are they fighting for? What makes each side good or bad? None of these questions are really answered and left feeling more confused about Captain Marvel’s role in this entire conflict than actually invested. It made it hard to root for her in this struggle since I couldn’t entirely grasp what the actual problem was until major developments in the plot had taken pace.
When she comes in contact with Nick Fury and the agents of Shield, the film starts to pick up its good old Marvel formula for the better. The dynamic between Carol Danvers and Nick Fury is easily the most entertaining and fun part of the movie. Seeing the witty banter between the two of them as well as seeing Fury in a less seasoned setting provides for some good laughs through the movie.
When the two of them are exploring who Carol Danvers is and why she has memories of Earth, the movie starts to gain some traction. Seeing her explore her past and delve into her purpose and understanding of the world has some decent dramatic moments, but does not quite go full in on the depth and emotion that it could. When a major revelation is made to Danvers, you don’t really feel the weight of that reveal or why it is important leaving some of the plot elements falling through the cracks.
Moreover, I didn’t find Captain Marvel to be a super compelling and likable character. The way she starts out in the movie is fantastic being a no nonsense, sarcastic, smart, and strong warrior who can easily hold her own against other foes. But the characters, and even the film’s plot sometimes, constantly try to hold her back and make her seem less than she is. This is supposedly the “most powerful character in the Marvel Universe”, but for a majority of the movie she is being told she is weak, can’t do certain things, and doesn’t understand what’s going on all for the sake of there being this big moment in the end of the movie where she unlocks her full powers and potential.
However, she doesn’t do anything to make those moments feel earned and true valued. She is constantly told she is weak and then after some talking and mild punching, she unlocks this mega power within her that you have seen from the trailers. There is no arc for her character or moment of redemption and it feels a bit lazy on the story side of things.
The action scenes are fine, but they happen for few and in between. Some scenes are in a dark room where you can’t really see what’s going on and one in particular tries to be something from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies instead of having its own unique flavor and style. When things start to get brighter, the action begins to get a bit more tense but there isn’t a truly high stake level making some of the action feel like filler than actually something to be invested in.
The supporting cast does a great job and holds this movie together, namely Ben Mendelsohn as a Skrull warrior, Phil Coulson making a triumphant return, and an adorable cat named Goose. Each character has some great moments and more personality to themselves that gives the film the boost it needs. It also helps provide some of Marvel’s signature humor that make for some big laughs in the theaters.
It sometimes feels like this movie was made solely to introduce us to Captain Marvel before her appearance in Avengers: Endgame. The movie is riddled with references to other MCU movies and those easter eggs are a lot of fun, but this movie doesn’t give me enough excitement for her as a character. I am more ambivalent to her joining the Avengers when I should be excited to see someone so powerful and strong join up with the rest of the team to battle against Thanos.
This movie is by no means horrible. The humor, side characters, some action scenes, and dynamics make this a decently entertaining Marvel movie. However, I do feel like in the future this could be one of the more forgettable ones just due to the lack of focus and purpose in the character and overarching conflict. There are some good twists scattered throughout, but it doesn’t help sustain the movie on its own. This merely serves as an introduction to someone who could have just appeared in the next Avengers first and then had her own stand alone story. She is a good character, but needs a better purpose and story to sustain her own film. I can’t say this movie is entirely necessary to see before Endgame, but it will definitely serve your superhero itch for the time being.
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