It may only be March, but it feels like movie season has already begun. Captain Marvel is a wonderfully good time, but perhaps not exactly what you might be expecting. I loved it for what it was, but I can see the path people would take to convince themselves that it isn’t great.
Marvel has gotten so large and ubiquitous that we’re all fans now, and we all have our own baggage and expectations. We want the movies to be a certain way, and maybe even feel entitled to it. We’ve come to expect quippy upstart heroes with shades of gray and flaws for days. Captain Marvel is not that movie. Captain Marvel is strong, confident, unwilling to bend, and, though a little sarcastic, not that funny. It reminded me much more of old school Superman than modern day Marvel.
I will submit, however, that this move was entirely intentional and I can’t fault the movie for executing on its vision. I think this was the plan all along. Carol Danvers has nothing to prove. She’s more powerful than any hero we’ve seen so far, knows it, and relishes it. I enjoyed that about her, even though that power can sometimes make her seem aloof and distant. She is, by way of analogy, the Dr. Manhattan of the MCU.
Captain Marvel is primarily a drama, with a healthy dose of action, and only a small dose of humor. Because it takes place in the ’90s, it has a lot of fun paying tribute to all the things in the MCU that haven’t yet happened, making it both the instigator of everything and the follower. It’s a weird place to be in, but all of the jokes and references feel earned for the franchise and the more you remember about early Marvel movies, the more fun you’ll have (also wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your GotG Vol. 1 either).
The acting is superb as would be expected from an Oscar caliber actress. I don’t think everyone will like the decisions Brie Larson made for the character, but I do think she worked out who she thought Captain Marvel should be and then played it to perfection. In a strange reversal, Sam Jackson tends to play the funny guy to Larson’s straight man. It’s bizarre to see a green, un-jaded Nick Fury on the screen, but it’s also delightful primarily because we know where the character ends up.
The action is breezy, the story can be surprising, and the supporting characters are all on point. I especially liked the very small role that Gemma Chan plays as a part of Starforce. There’s a message in this movie. It’s very subtle and easy to lose in the mix, but I think the movie becomes better when you think on it and dig for that message.
I really enjoyed this movie and would rank it 3rd behind Iron Man and Black Panther in the MCU origin movie pantheon. I think it might end up being a bit divisive among fans, but I think if you’ll take the movie for what it’s meant to be, you’ll find that it’s a fine specimen.
Rating: 5 stars
Should you watch it? Yes!
Should you take your kids? If they can handle the other Marvel movies
What you should watch first: Guardians of the Galaxy