I feel I should open this review by saying that I am finding it harder and harder to judge these MCU movies without directly comparing them to what has come before.
Given the interconnected nature of the MCU, I think that can be forgiven – With that being said, I think Captain Marvel stands on its own as a great movie that was a lot of fun. Unfortunately though, I had some issues with how this plays into the MCU as a whole and how it could affect what’s to come, and what has come before.
First things first, I really enjoyed Brie Larson in the role of Captain Marvel – She perfectly combines powerful strength and well-timed humour, which is essential when introducing a hero as important as this, who will surely be a pivotal character in the MCU going forward. Her chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson – reprising his role as Nick Fury – was one of the highlights of the film for me. Speaking of Nick Fury, the special effects used to keep him looking twenty-five years younger was nothing short of breath-taking. The special effects in general throughout the movie are very good but this was the highlight for sure.
Other supporting characters including Jude Law’s Yon-Rogg, Annette Bening’s Supreme Intelligence character and Lashana Lynch’s Maria Rambeau all service the story well and do not overshadow Captain Marvel herself. Though one of the biggest surprises for me was how enjoyable Ben Mendlesohn was in his role of the main Skrull, Talos. He does a lot to make the character interesting and not just a throw-away extra, which unfortunately a lot of Marvel’s alien race characters sometimes end up being.
While we’re on the subject of Skrulls, this is where some of my concerns lie. Although I am trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible, maybe skip this paragraph and the next if you’re slightly worried about working out a certain plot point. The way the filmmakers choose to portray the Skrulls was quite off-putting for me. Yes it made them more interesting rather than a throw-away bunch of villains, and I did enjoy watching them within the confines of this one film, but the direction they have chosen with this race of aliens could really compromise a potential story arc going forward in the MCU – Although it could be easily changed around, I always feel first impressions count and the one I have got from the Skrulls has been quite jarring. Though it’s worth pointing out that with a second viewing, I enjoyed their story arc a lot more and was a bit more accepting of what their story was.
Just a reminder that there are still possible spoilers in this paragraph so skip if you’re wanting to go in completely blind. There was another major plot point involving Nick Fury that I absolutely hated! If you have seen the movie then you will know the exact moment I am talking about, and it is one of the biggest examples I have seen to date of an MCU movie force-feeding a comedy moment into a film that actually has a detrimental effect on a characters arc – Similar to the situation with the Skrulls, it does work within the confines of this movie but raises many questions for the rest of the MCU that left me feeling quite disappointed.
I felt that the way the film made use of being based in the 90’s was very enjoyable. There are definitely going to be people who feel like Captain Marvel is trying to be Guardians of the Galaxy-esque with its use of its soundtrack, but I found it highly enjoyable for the most part. There was only one moment in the third act where I felt like a particular song had been forced into a scene that completely took me out of the moment, but apart from that I welcomed the 90’s nostalgia.
The Carol Danvers origin story is told incredibly well for the most part. The movie jumps around slightly with its timeline, with the majority of her origin coming through flashbacks and such. The specifics of how she gains her powers have been changed around a bit from the source material, and after seeing the film twice, I still can’t understand why… Though that is all easily forgiven as when she does unleash the full scale of her powers, she is an absolute joy to watch and had some truly awesome, spine-tingling moments that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Plus, after seeing what she can do, it makes her involvement in Avengers: Endgame all the more interesting.
The pacing of this movie is something that should definitely be applauded – As with so many other superhero films, origin stories in particular, they seem to be very predictable and you can usually call it beat for beat… But that wasn’t really the case here. There is no point in the movie where things start to feel slow or boring, and as it heads into the third act, it manages to avoid some comic book clichés and keeps things fresh throughout.
It’s also worth mentioning some of the small things in Captain Marvel that help make it special, including a really exciting mid credit scene and a moment on the tram that warmed this old nerds heart, but that’s all I’ll say about that for now. Also, make sure you don’t miss the first few seconds of the film for a special take on the classic Marvel opening.
So as I finish up this review, I am torn whether to judge this movie solely for what it is – a fun thrill ride that does a great job at establishing the newest member to the MCU with some good laughs along the way – or, as a fun movie that has unfortunately raised some questionable issues for the MCU as a whole, that were not there before. I think it has to be the former, and no matter what the negatives were, I still had a hell of a time.
I give Captain Marvel an:
8.5 / 10