Review: Captain Marvel (2019)

Captain Marvel

Rating

Director

Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Screenplay

Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve

Length

2h 3m

Starring

Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Rune Temte, Gemma Chan, Algenis Perez Soto, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Chuku Modu, Matthew Maher, Akira Akbar

MPAA Rating

PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language

Original Preview

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Soundtrack

Poster

Source Material

Review

More than a decade after the first Avenger origin film (Iron Man) was released, Disney is finally putting out a film with a female lead. Captain Marvel gives voice to a generation of fans who haven’t had the kind of representation they deserved and the end result is heartening.

Set in 1995, Captain Marvel finds Kree operative Vers (Brie Larson) attempting to understand the dreams she’s having that place her in another body facing off against a Kree assassin. After being captured by a group of Skrull mercenaries, Vers begins to unravel the flashes of memory she’s had by traveling to Earth where she hopes to uncover information about the Pegasus program with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

The film, positioned well before current events in the MCU, establishes Captain Marvel as a character whose power could be crucial in the fight against the events of Avengers: Infinity War. Learning more about this character in this origin story gives the audience a better understanding of what Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) stands for.

It’s not surprising that with Larson’s involvement, Captain Marvel was given a strong foundation to stand on her own in the cinematic universe. Unlike Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, who was treated shabbily in her post-Winter Soldier appearances, Larson’s Captain Marvel takes care of matters without being forced to rely on her male cohorts. Never treated as a damsel in distress, Carol is as robust and fascinating as any of her male counterparts and the butt-kicking sequences aren’t used as the only show of actual strength for the character.

The narrative is a tightly written, twist-heavy adventure that also lets us get to know a younger Fury and gives us a brief glimpse of an even younger Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). Further, the soundtrack is outstanding, most notably the use of “Just a Girl” from No Doubt late in the film. It’s a fitting feminist anthem of the period and it’s an exemplary tune to pair with the action of that particular scene.

The effects are abundant and the narrative fresh. What’s most entertaining about this film is its constant references to things that are quintessentially 1990s, such as Blockbuster, Radio Shack, and dial-up internet. It’s a fascinating time capsule of an era fewer and fewer Marvel fans will be able to connect with. Throw in terrific bits featuring the semi-affectionate cat Goose and you have a film that’s more enjoyable than it is frustrating, which best describes how formulaic the film is.

Unlike Black Panther last year, this Marvel Cinematic Universe “first” doesn’t have a freshness of setting and narrative throughline. It’s a film that very much sits in the pedestrian center of the Marvel universe even if it does far better at formula than some other films in the series. Larson is a terrific lead and it will be exciting to see how her involvement in the franchise plays out and grows over the next few years.

Oscar Prospects

Potentials: Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects
Unlikelies: Picture, Directing, Actress (Brie Larson), Supporting Actor (Samuel L. Jackson), Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Production Design, Costume Design

Review Written

April 2, 2019

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