It’s the last stop in the MCU before Endgame‘s premiere and the end of an era: Captain Marvel. Yeah, I don’t know why they took so long to release their first female-led movie, but better late than never, especially as we’re inching closer to an end of an era for the franchise and some big names may be leaving for good. In any case, Captain Marvel’s introduction to the MCU won’t be easily forgotten with massive box office numbers on opening weekend and a compelling story to captivate audiences, despite the pissy fanboys who won’t just let us live.
Vers is a young member of the Kree’s Starforce to protect and maintain order in the empire. Without any memory of her life before Starforce, she constantly struggles to keep her emotions and powers in check. But her whole point-of-view will flip upside when she crashes on Earth during a mission and discovers she had a life there years ago as an Air Force pilot named Carol Danvers. Along the way, she teams up with a young Nick Fury to find out more of her old life, the true intentions behind space travel tests, what she’s fighting for, and what kind of hero she really wants to be.
This is one of the more low-key MCU films like Doctor Strange where it tells the story straight without forcing itself to be funny or throwing a lot of twists and turns. The 90s references alone are hysterical enough, especially with Carol using technology which is practically archaic to her. Although the plot is semi-predictable, there’s still enough character from this stellar cast to make it entertaining enough to tide you over until Endgame. I really wish they went more into the drama of Carol’s arc with her rediscovering her past and figuring out the life she thought she knew and the causes she fought for were a lie. The drama’s there, but I didn’t feel the same emotional impact compared to other films like Black Panther or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. But again, what keeps it afloat is the cast.
Brie Larson is a knockout as Carol as she tried to be the perfect soldier for Starforce, but her human emotions always get in the way. She has a blunt way of getting shit done, but she isn’t a total stick in the mud. I love the quips and playful banter she develops with her partners and all the pain and joy she experiences in starting a new life away from the Kree empire. She still has to get used to the fact that Earth is completely unaware of alien life which is equally funny and fascinating. And no matter how many times she’s thrown down, she’ll get back up and keep on fighting. I really admire her tenacity, and while the “girl power” aspect is played up a bit in marketing, it’s surprisingly very subtle in the film. Most of Carol’s arc is just the general female experience of not letting bullshit weigh you down, whether it’s some rando catcalling you or your male coworkers doubting your ability. It’s wild to think that the feminism was so harshly judged weeks before when it’s one of the more downplayed elements.
Samuel L. Jackson, as usual, kills it as Nick Fury, this time as a younger, lower level agent before becoming director of SHIELD. It’s actually fun to see him play in a more prominent role instead of being relegated to the background for occasional wisdom or a deus ex machina when the plot calls for it; this is the most screentime he’s had since Winter Soldier, and I love seeing this more wide-eyed agent who’s about to be thrust into a whirlwind of insanity and intergalactic battles and realizing Earth needs to seriously catch up if humanity has any chance in standing up against the likes of the Kree. And the digital editing to make him look younger is damn impressive. I honestly thought it was all make-up! It’s pretty awesome to see this technology get better and blend so seamlessly with everything else.
The side characters are also fun and for the most part get just the perfect amount of screentime to develop their relationships with Carol. Jude Law is perfect as the tough mentor, Yon-Rogg, who cares in a typical Kree fashion. His soft voice and brutal force makes him quite a wild card as you almost want to trust him and think he knows what’s best for Carol, but it becomes more difficult as her forgotten past unravels. Lashanna Lynch is equal parts sweet and tough as nails as Maria Rambeau, Carol’s old Air Force friend. Much like Fury, she doesn’t feel relegated to a sidekick or background character, and there’s a lot of time devoted to rekindling her relationship with Carol, even if she can’t remember any of it. Ben Mendelsohn is a hell of a surprise as Talos, a Skrull leader, from who Carol has a lot to learn from. You can tell he’s really pushing to emote through all that make-up, but he thankfully has great dialogue to work with.
Some of the built up cameos, however, are more downplayed than I think they should be. I don’t watch Agents of SHIELD, so it was fun to see Clark Gregg in film again as Phil Coulson. But his role is very minimal with just hints of his partnership with Fury and their work to make the Avengers Initiative a reality. Even more disappointing was Lee Pace probably only having five minutes maximum of screentime as Ronan the Accuser. I was hoping maybe he would be a bigger baddie for Carol to fight, especially given his role in Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe we’d see the seeds of evil which led him to work for Thanos. The hints of his arc are there, especially with Carol switching sides, but it doesn’t allow enough time to dive into his psyche, who is a shame since he’s one of the weaker MCU villains.
While I can’t get as super hyped for this movie as much as I feel I should, Captain Marvel is still passes as an entertaining action flick. It’s just the right amount of comedy, drama, action, and character to tide MCU fans until Endgame (to which, you DO NOT want to skip out on the end credits scenes; trust me). Given recent talks that Carol may lead in the next phase for MCU, I can’t wait to see them deliver more.