“Captain Marvel” is Marvel’s first female superhero movie. With so much anticipation, it was impossible for the film to live up to the hype. While entertaining, the lack of emotion ultimately makes “Captain Marvel” forgettable.
The film stars Brie Larson as Captain Marvel and is an origin story of how Marvel came to discover her identity. Marvel originally believes that she is a Kree warrior — an ancient alien race at war with the Skrulls. But, when she finds herself on Earth, Marvel uncovers flashbacks of a different life as a U.S. Air Force pilot named Carol Danvers.
The first 40 minutes of the film are confusing, regardless of one’s comic book knowledge. The viewer is thrust directly into battle between the Krees and Skrulls without any knowledge of who the characters are or why they are fighting. While the plot is slowly revealed and eventually makes sense, the use of battle scenes without context is unsatisfying from besides the entertainment aspect.
The film is directed and written by independent filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and their subtlety shows in the character development seen throughout the film. Marvel and a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) have great comedic timing. Their scenes are also compelling due to solid writing. However, the plot confusion makes it difficult for the audience to have a personal connection with what is occurring on-screen. Furthemore, for a film promoting feminism, there is little female bonding since Marvel spends most of her time with Fury.
One of the most refreshing aspects of “Captain Marvel” is the lack of a love interest or female oversexualization. While other female superhero films, such as “Wonder Woman” and “Catwoman,” dressed their leads in revealing garb, Larson is more identifiable to the viewers as an average, if extremely beautiful, woman in the same Kree outfit as the men. The casting of Larson is ideal, not only due to her acting chops, but her likeability. Larson’s Captain Marvel seems like someone you would want to be friends with, making the viewer root for her even more.
While the film does a wonderful job in what it accomplishes, the flaws are glaringly obvious. “Captain Marvel” is set in the 1990s, and while this could have been a great opportunity for humorous insights and nostalgic outfits, the time period is mostly ignored in favor of fancy alien landscapes. At one point in the film, Marvel crashes through a Blockbuster store. This ironic reference received a lot of laughs in the theatre and the film needed more elements like it.
The special effects are dazzling and the acting phenomenal, but “Captain Marvel” often reverts back to formula and cliche, as superhero films tend to do. Although the success of killing a bad guy is satisfying, we’ve seen everything in “Captain Marvel” before. At least we have a woman enacting justice this time.