The folks over at Marvel Studios have gotten very good at what they do – taking some of the most famous characters in pop culture and translating them onto the big screen in an epic, spectacular and just plain fun way.
“Captain Marvel” is no exception. Fair warning, mild spoilers ahead.
No doubt, “Captain Marvel” is a lot of fun. The plot follows Vers, played by actress Brie Larson, a warrior of the Kree, an alien species to which astute Marvel Cinematic Universe fans might remember that Ronan the Accuser from “Guardians of the Galaxy” belongs. The Kree are sworn to hunt the Skrull, a shape-shifting species of terrorists who threaten the Kree way of life.
But everything is not as it seems, and when Vers is sent to Earth on a mission, where she meets Nick Fury, played by actor Samuel L. Jackson, she discovers that her life might be more complicated than she initially thought.
While Larson as Vers/Captain Marvel is good, it seems as if she struggles to find her unique personality throughout the movie. Vers’ character seems to go back and forth between tough, sarcastic and biting to light-hearted and clever, but never really fully picks a side.
It seems as if the writers struggled to make Captain Marvel unique from personalities like Iron Man or Captain America and ended up creating a character that feels confused and unoriginal.
This is intensified through Larson’s performance, who never seems to fully embrace any kind of personality for the character. This lack of personality sometimes makes it hard to follow the character through some of the slower parts spread throughout the movie, where it’s easy to lose interest.
Interestingly, some of the best parts of “Captain Marvel” are the side characters. Jackson is perfect as the slightly less-hardened Nick Fury, and his interactions with a “cat” named Goose are probably the best parts of the whole movie.
Where Larson really shines is in her interactions with Jackson, and the pair is just plain fun to watch. Also good are Jude Law as the gruff Kree team leader and Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, Vers’ best friend and fellow pilot. Both characters really shine, and though they are very different, contribute a lot to making the universe feel much more real.
The shining star when it comes to side characters, however, is Akira Akbar as Monica, Maria’s daughter. Akbar plays the role with such enthusiasm and joy; she could have done with a lot more screen time. Akbar is a lot of fun to watch and brightens the screen anytime she is on.
There is a lot of loving tribute paid to comic book superstar Stan Lee since the actor passed away last year, including a new title card intro and one of the best cameos ever to grace a screen.
“Captain Marvel” is unique for a Marvel movie in that it doesn’t rely heavily on pure action. Some of the scenes tend to lag, especially if you are used to the other movies in the franchise. The fight scenes are also unusual, with each scene having its own unique feel from the first battle playing out more like a sci-fi battle than a typical superhero fight to the train scene, which feels more like a “Bourne” film than a Marvel movie.
The battle scenes are somewhat choppy, an unusual digression from recent Marvel Cinematic Universe fight scenes. This is true of all the fight scenes except for the undoubtedly best scene, the battle on an LA Metro train.
As good as “Captain Marvel” is, it does have one major drawback: its lack of adherence to established comic lore. Other Marvel movies tend to follow the comics, especially the origins of their characters pretty closely, although that is changing with some of the more recent movies.
“Captain Marvel” changes some of the even fundamental points from the comics. Often, it does give a slight nod to the original storylines, but most of the time, the movie actively changes established plots, origins and even fundamental natures of certain characters and themes. This will not be a big problem to most casual fans, but fans of the Captain Marvel comics should be aware. A lot of this has to do with the reliance on the movie to set up the plot for April’s “Avengers: Endgame,” which at times makes the movie feel like a really long trailer.
Overall, “Captain Marvel” is one of the better Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to date. With a light mixture of sci-fi, action, and classic superhero elements, not to mention the nostalgic’ 90s setting, “Captain Marvel” is more than entertaining for casual fans, even if it is a little slow in places. It also has enough Easter eggs and franchise tie-ins to please Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Comics fans.
If you want to go see a fun, engaging Marvel movie, especially if you have an interest in the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe lore, go see it. Otherwise, you aren’t missing too much if you give this one a pass.