In the midst of an ongoing war between warrior race The Kree and the shapeshifting Skrulls, Starforce fighter Vers (Brie Larson) works alongside her mentor and commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), as well as several other highly capable warriors, to help combat the Skrulls who are hidden on other worlds, all the while struggling with mystifying, recurring dreams. After a skirmish with Skrull leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), she is seperated from the rest of her unit and finds herself on Earth during the mid-nineties, soon working alongside a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), seeking to evade the Skrull pursuers and to locate a mysterious and important doctor who the enemy is also searching for, but as certain truths come to light, Vers starts questioning everything she thought she knew and she must harness her full potential in order to defeat the true enemy.
Starting with the woman of the hour, one who has been the victim of some particularly nasty online comments, Brie Larson confidently makes the role of Carol Danvers her own and she’s undeniably one of the film’s biggest assets. Though she may not be as three dimensional or as unique as some of the MCU’s other heroes, Captain Marvel is still an entertaining, butt-kicking badass with plenty of sass, attitude, bravery and resilience and in the pivotal role, Brie Larson clearly has fun with what she’s given and she believably displays Carol’s essential toughness while also completely nailing the more comedic aspects of her personality when, in her character’s more cockier moments (channelling the likes of Tony Stark or Steven Strange), she deals out several barbs and cutting comments/questions with a knowingly cocksure, swaggering attitude as well as many endearing and thoroughly entertaining facial expressions.
The haters may hate but in this film, Larson confidently rises to the challenge and makes Captain Marvel a worthy, relatable, supportable, admirable and entertaining protagonist.
Backing her up, Samuel L. Jackson gets plenty of screentime to reprise his recurring character of Nick Fury and, with the assistance of Marvel’s incredibly impressive de-aging technology, he is as entertaining as Larson and proves to be a solid supporting character, giving us a glimpse of what Fury was like before he became the tough, secretive and commanding presence that we know him to be. Ben Mendelsohn impresses in his role of Talos, initially appearing to be just another one of his stock villain characters but ultimately displaying some impressive character depth and credible, totally unexpected motivations, Jude Law is decent as Yon-Rogg but his role is quite forgettable and could’ve been played by anybody, Annette Bening provides strong support and a certain playful sparkle as both Dr. Lawson and The Supreme Intelligence, Lashana Lynch and Akira Akbar provide most of the heart and humanity as mother and daughter Maria and Monica and, unrecognizable under her make-up (much like Carrie Coon in Infinity War!), rising star Gemma Chan is cool, charismatic and stone cold as ace sharpshooter Minn-Erva.
As for the film itself, I’d say that Captain Marvel is a perfectly entertaining film, one that’s bound to be enjoyed and treasured by many and there’s nothing really wrong with it but at the same time, it can’t compete with some of the series “heavyweights” like Civil War, Black Panther or Guardians of the Galaxy and while it is a very good film, I wouldn’t call it a “keeper” – one that you’d race to buy on DVD.
On the positive side, the film does well in bringing us into a new area of this cinematic universe with the Kree/Skrull conflict (expanding on the Kree race who we briefly saw in Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and introducing this new “avenger” who’s probably going to prove pivotal in Endgame. The first half of the movie works very well as there’s some cool new alien tech/weaponry on display and narrative-wise, we’re mostly able to understand the world that Carol has come from; the sequence where the Skrulls forcibly comb through her memories, giving us pivotal information in a cleverly non-linear fashion, is certainly unique, slightly humorous, and really quite captivating since it creates a mystery about her character that we soon get to unravel.
And towards the end, the film ends up packing a powerful punch as we see all those moments in Carol’s life where she got knocked down but, as humanity tends to do, she always got back up, hitting home an inspirational and uplifting message about the resilience, stubbornness and unruly nature of the human race (after all, we are “unruly and therefore cannot be ruled”!). The finale is also particularly effective because when Carol gets to truly cut loose and unleash her full powers on the enemy, the accompanying action sequences are high octane, full of energy and this final sequence ends the film with a bang and a few “punch the air” moments.
But on the other hand, the film isn’t quite as strong or as memorable as some of the other MCU films because, while the story is decent, it isn’t anything extraordinary, interesting or groundbreaking and it mostly just does what a superhero origin story is supposed to do (although I predicted how the story would go a couple of times and I was wrong all the time, so props to the movie for that!), we also have the trademark Marvel humour but it’s just there because it has to be, much of it is pretty standard and the film is ultimately not very funny at all, I’d also say that there appear to be one or two plot holes/inconsistencies (especially concering a certain important artifact revealed towards the end), and the inclusion of Goose the Cat, though those scenes attempt to be lightearted and funny, doesn’t exactly sit right.
Also, they keep using the S.H.I.E.L.D. acronym in the 90s but didn’t they only start doing that in 2008? After Pepper called Coulson out on their organisation’s name being too much of a mouthful?