Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Written by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck & Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Much has been made of this film being the first Marvel film in their Cinematic Universe to feature a woman in the leading role. There was praise for it being such, and then internet backlash from #MadOnline fanboys who seems to ruin everything for everyone. These types are often the vocal minority, and I expect this Marvel monster to still do quite well at the box office and fit nicely into the greater story being told by Marvel and producer Kevin Feige, who has masterfully crafted this interconnected universe. But what a great opportunity for Marvel and specifically Brie Larson to bring this type of story to the world where little girls can look up and see a female superhero. It likely won’t have the same cultural impact as Black Panther did last year, but it’s not an insignificant entry into the MCU.
The Kree civilization is threatened by the movements of the nomad Skrull civilization, which prompts a mission from Kree soldiers, led by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and featuring Vers (Brie Larson) on her first ever mission. When things go south, Vers ends up on 1990s Earth where she begins searching for the mysterious Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D agent Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). As they race against the Skrull (Ben Mendelsohn), and await the help of Yon-Rogg and the other Kree, Vers begins to unravel her forgotten past which includes a life as a pilot where she knew Dr. Lawson, was best friends with Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and was known as Carol Danvers.
Captain Marvel is not the cinematic achievement or event that Black Panther was a year ago, but that is a high bar to cross. It is however a very good film with a lot going for it, even if it also has its flaws. Casting Brie Larson, and actress I absolutely adore, was the perfect choice. Her talents were starving for a chance at a mainstream, blockbuster type role to boost her to stardom. Her performance in Room may have netted her an Oscar win, but she deserves to be mentioned in the conversation with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence when it comes to great young actresses. She performs admirably here and really feels at home in the role. She is given few chances to really shine with the prefabricated script doing most of the work, but her energy matches pretty perfectly with what is at the heart of Captain Marvel the character.
Where I felt the film went wrong a little bit was just how much the filmmakers felt they needed to wink at the audience, whether it was with the patented Marvel-brand humor which felt much more delivered and less natural this time out than usual, though often not any less funny, or it was the forced 90s cultural references which had the fanboy nerd beside me awkwardly applauding each time something he recognized from the past came on screen. That’s what Marvel was hoping to accomplish, I assume, but it felt a little shoe-horned in and again, not naturally delivered. Having the film set in the past was another minor annoyance, which made the film feel like the studio was playing catch-up in time for Captain Marvel to come in and save the day in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame, which is honestly fine. I am sure Feige and Marvel have had this all planned out for quite a while.
Overall, I was impressed with the general ambition of the film, as it deviated a lot from the standard Marvel formula with how it played with Carol’s memories and the timeline of the film. Otherwise, the formula remained much the same. Lashana Lynch was a pleasant surprise as well. Largely a newcomer, she quickly impressed me with her performance. As for the female empowerment aspect of the film, it worked, really well. At times it felt like the filmmakers were cramming it down our throat a little bit, but it’s about damn time we see a film that shows a strong, female lead who is independent, powerful and doesn’t need the help or approval of any men in her life. This is pulled off really well. I will certainly recommend this to any and all Marvel films and any parents who want to introduce their daughters to a positive role model. It won’t set the world on fire with its artistic and creative achievement, but it’s an important entry into the MCU, and sets up next month’s Avengers: Endgame quite well.