So it’s taken 21 films and nearly 11 years, but we finally have a stand-alone female hero in the MCU.
I won’t be dwelling on the background politics in this review, that is not my job. I will be looking at it as a film, which given Marvel’s near-faultless record in the last few years, I was bound to enjoy right?
Well, with us well on the road towards Endgame, Captain Marvel is the final piece of the puzzle, so to speak. Named as the MCU’s most powerful hero by Kevin Fiege and other powerful film forces, this film will surely set the stage for round two with Thanos next month.
In the past I have commented on how certain MCU films seem to be an advertisement for the next one, and that was a risk for this film too, with so much riding on Captain Marvel’s appearance in Endgame. So will this be the case?
In 1995, Kree soldier Vers crashes to Earth amid a violent war with the shape-shifting Skrulls. With no memories of who she is or where she came from, she slowly rebuilds her memories with the help of Nick Fury.
The MCU have an undeniable formula when it comes to films, they’re made to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, yet still offer enough to keep most people happy, occasionally they’ll make a riskier film, like Black Panther or The Winter Soldier, and while Captain Marvel seems like a riskier film from the outside, once you get into it, you’ll see how much it actually follows the formula.
Don’t get me wrong, the film is fun, it’s typical entertaining Marvel fare, but that’s all it is. It’s good, acceptable, run of the mill.
There are times when it makes an effort to make a bigger issue out of the identity struggle out of its main character, but once that’s resolved it’s a pretty cookie-cutter film, to be honest.
It does have its moments though, especially surrounding Captain Marvel herself, when she finally realises her true power, and subsequently becomes the most over-powered hero since Superman started taking steroids. There’s some nice space-y elements and the action is smooth and exciting, but never carves out an identity for itself.
It suffers from the aforementioned problem of feeling like an advertisement for Endgame, rather than a film in its own right. Almost like the powers-that-be realised they needed Captain Marvel in the film, so hastily knocked-up a film to show her off in as broad a way as possible, so that audiences were familiar with her when next month comes around, incidentally, I don’t think the short gap between films will do Captain Marvel any good in the long run. Once Endgame is strutting up and down the box office catwalk, Captain Marvel will be consigned to history.
All of this is sounding very harsh, as I didn’t dislike the film, I found it entertaining in the typical MCU mould, but there have been several better films released in the franchise in the last few years, I suppose it serves its purpose of introducing the character, and the third act twist is effective in making her a more likeable character, but it could have been more, we know it could have been more as we’ve seen much better from the MCU.
None of this falls on Brie Larson, who I felt really grew into the role over the course of the film, she’s doing her best to produce something special, and set an example for generations of young women, which is commendable, and she’s obviously extremely passionate about the character and that comes across, but when you have a character as all-powerful as Captain Marvel, you lose a touch of personality (what I like to call the Superman conundrum) and while attempts are made to give her personality, this is lost by the time she unlocks her true potential.
Don’t go away from this review thinking I disliked Captain Marvel, it was a fun two hours at the cinema, with effective performances and accomplished, if a tad bland, direction, I just know it could have, and should have, been so much more.
In conclusion then, while it’s an important chapter in setting up Avengers: Endgame, as a stand-alone adventure it’s ultimately bland, a fun time at the cinema with the usual Marvel shine to it, but nothing truly special. One die-hard Marvel fans will enjoy simply for it being more of the thing they love, casual viewers might be better advised to wait for Endgame.