It’s fitting that an MCU film with Marvel in the title is the film best described as being “very Marvel”. In a world where a lot of the MCU films are starting to forge their own identities or going for the big crossover, Captain Marvel feels like the earlier films, full of origin stories and foreboding. It that a bad thing? Let’s find out!
Captain Marvel is an extraterrestrial Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her people and the Skrulls. Living on Earth in 1995, she keeps having recurring memories of another life as U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers. With help from Nick Fury, Captain Marvel tries to uncover the secrets of her past while harnessing her special superpowers to end the war with the evil Skrulls.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Captain Marvel herself… not that’s she’s called that at any point in the film…
Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) – Known as Vers, Carol is living on the Kree homeworld with no knowledge of her past beyond being trained to fight for her people… if they are indeed her people…
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) – Nick Fury is an Agent of SHIELD who soon gets caught up in an intergalactic war between two races, which even for SHIELD is a bit weird…
Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) – Yon-Rogg is a proud member of the Kree who wishes only to wipe out the Skrulls, in order to do this he is willing to do anything, to anyone.
Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) – Talos is a Skrull who is being hunted down after his home planet was destroyed by the Kree. In search of his family, Talos is willing to do anything, to anyone…
Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) – Maria was a test pilot alongside Carol Danvers, and after her friend’s apparent death, she started to take a few steps back in life and be with her daughter.
Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) – Phil is a new agent of SHIELD who is working alongside the more experienced Nick Fury. He still often goes with his gut rather than what his superiors dictate, a character trait Fury appreciates.
Mar-Vell (Annette Bening) – Mar-Vell was a Kree scientist who saw what her people had done to the Skrulls and decided to try to do something about it… until they found her.
“A Royale with cheese?!”
A good chunk of the movie is pretty much a buddy cop movie with a more laidback Nick Fury and sometimes sarcastic Danvers/Marvel, and it works really well! The duo play off each other well, and I have to say that Samuel L. Jackson was the standout of the film. The de-aging effects were great and this more playful and “on-the-beat” version of Nick Fury was a blast. It was also fun to see a young and inexperienced Agent Coulson as well, also impressively de-aged. There were sometimes scenes that screamed “remember the 90s?! This is set in the 90s!” but for the most part I found the setting fun, if a little unsettling that the era I grew up in is now considered a historical period…
I think the main twist here came with the Skrulls, who for the record were great to finally see on the big screen, shape-shifting and all. It turns out that in the MCU the war between the Skrulls and the Kree came about because of the Kree trying to take over the Skrulls’ home planet and when the local inhabitants refused to be ruled over, the planet was destroyed. Since then the Skrulls have either hopelessly tried to fight back, or more commonly, tried to find a new place to call home away from the Kree Empire, who hunt them down more to prove a point than anything else. It’s an interesting spin that came about half way through the film, giving us some classic “Skrull are the shape-shifting baddies who could be anyone” scenes to start with (including the now infamous scene from the trailer with the old woman on the train that Captain Marvel punches!) It eventually turns out that the MCU version of Mar-Vell was housing a bunch of Skrulls away from her (yes her) own people, which was a good little side-story.
As per usual with the Marvel films, the special effects were great, and the action scenes a treat for the eyes, particularly Captain Marvel herself when she reaches her maximum power and starts taking out Kree ships in the middle of space. Goose, the cat that actually turns out to be an alien creature known as a Flerken that’s able to swallow human-sized enemies whole with giant tentacles, was a good laugh. It scratching Nick Fury’s eye resulting in the trademark eyepatch was a good gag too.
Yon-Rogg was a decent villain of the piece, but did fall into the old “MCU film with uninteresting villain” trope. He started off as someone to trust, then turned out to be the baddie, so that’s a little different, and Jude Law was good in the role, so I’ll give it a pass into the Good section. The rest of the cast, from feisty fellow test pilot Maria Rambeau to the Kree Great Intelligence (appearing as the woman who turned out to be the MCU’s version of Mar-Vell, oddly enough) were all fine as well.
Telos the Untamed, or in the MCU: Telos the funny Aussie Skrull!
There were a lot of times Brie Larson’s acting fell flat. When she was a tough pilot or a thrill seeker I brought it, and it was good, but oddly the sarcastic jokes and quips never really hit home, and felt like they were there just because a Marvel film needs amusing quips. Bouncing off of Nick Fury was the only time they felt funny, and that was normally down to Mr. Jackson’s comic timing. Not a major problem, in amongst the Avengers next month I’m sure she’ll be better written for, but for this film I wasn’t 100% with the performance.
After a few years of “no need to do origin films any more”, this film had a lot of focus on Carol Danvers’ past, and while it was presented as her finding it out along with the audience and therefore felt a bit different, at the end of the day it still made everything feel rather like waiting for the good bit…
Oh and Ronan the Accuser was here for very little reason, and the Tesseract was used seemingly to complete the feeling of this film being from the earlier MCU slate rather than the current ones…
Carol Danvers during her crazy hair period… while blasts bolts of fire from her fists.
Captain Marvel is a good film, it killed two-hours and I was never bored, but it does feel out of its time, which is fitting given its setting. It’s the kind of early MCU film that I feel you can’t really get away with now, and Brie Larson wasn’t built to have Tony Stark-like quips written for her. Still, it’s a good film, has some fun call-backs (especially young Nick Fury) and creates a character I’m looking forward to seeing in the next Avengers film, and that’s all it was really created for…