Tuesday Review – Captain Marvel (2019)

films, reviews



It’s safe to say that there was a lot riding on this film for me. I found Wonder Woman to be a fantastic celebration of female superheroes. So much so that, as you may remember, I started tearing up during the opening scene. But I’ve never been that big a fan of Wonder Woman as a character. I’d not really read the comics and I’d not seen the TV show. She wasn’t really on my radar. Unlike Carol. I love Carol. I loved her as Ms Marvel. I love her as Captain Marvel. I love the idea of Brie Larson playing her. This film definitely sounded like it was being made for someone like me. I wanted it to be good. I wanted it to be loved. A difficult thing considering it was already under threat of trolls before its opening weekend. Let’s be honest, this was never going to be given a fair hearing from a lot of male fans and film critics. You know who I mean: men who see themselves as being as cool as Tony Stark, as sweet as Steve Rogers, and as intelligent as Bruce Banner. But men who are, in actuality, only as cringe-inducing as the Spider-Man 3‘s dancing Peter Parker. I know it’s what we’ve come to expect from pathetic fan boys and the fragile white male ego but that doesn’t mean it gets any easier to stomach. But let’s not give them any more attention and get on with the real work.

Do you remember back in 2011 when the first Captain America and Thor films were brought out fairly quickly to prepare the world for The Avengers? Both of those films, no matter how entertaining they might be in general, were a little underwhelming. It kind of felt like they were rushed in order to get to the big one. So, there was always going to the danger than Captain Marvel was going to be in same boat. We know she’s going to be a key figure in End Game so getting her back story sorted was an important task. And, even though we’ve heard from the Kree briefly before in Guardians of the Galaxy, it was always going to be tricky to introduce so many new planets and a new superhero.

Vers (Brie Larson) is a member of the elite Kree team Starforce. She suffers from amnesia and is plagued by nightmares. When a mission goes wrong, Vers finds herself stranded on Earth in 1995 with a group of Skrulls. The Skrulls are the sworn enemies of the Kree and, unfortunately, they have the ability to change their appearance to look like anyone they see. Vers attracts the attention of SHIELD agent Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and, together, the pair try to track down the object the Skrulls are looking for. Along the way, Vers starts to regain her memory and, when she comes face-to-face with her former best friend, Maria (Lashana Lynch), she discovers a completely forgotten history on the planet.

Right off the bat, I will say that Captain Marvel was always going to have a hard time introducing us to two new races of people and the idea of a long-standing alien war. I know we’ve had experience of the Kree before in Guardians of the Galaxy thanks to Ronan the Accuser, who has a reappearance here, but the MCU still needed to introduce them. And, really, Captain Marvel does a messy job of doing it. Or not doing it as it mostly feels. We stumble into action from the start and learn about the all important history thanks to a few bits of clumsy exposition spoken between characters. It’s not great and the opening of the film is definitely it’s weakest. There’s an undeniably slow start where you don’t really know or care what’s going on.

But things get much safer once we find ourselves on Earth. The way this film embraces its 90’s setting is fantastic. It has the right feel and hit of nostalgia. The references are fun and the CGI to de-age stars Samuel L. and Clark Gregg is outstanding. There’s Goose, the cat who is sure to become the most beloved new arrival in the MCU. Also, just for the record, I think this is my favourite Marvel soundtrack of all time. It’s the music I grew up with and I love it. Finally, we have the buddy movie friendship of Vers and Fury. The two of them together are a fantastic pair and the banter that flows between them it perfect. Both actors are charismatic and funny enough to make this work without it being too sentimental and flowery. It’s not the pairing that we ever knew we needed but it’s definitely the one we deserve.

Although, it does pale in comparison to the central female friendship at the heart of this film. When Vers comes in contact with Maria again we finally get to see the humanity behind the character. For most of the film, it feels as though Marvel went too far in their attempts to make Captain Marvel a powerful female. It feels as though they took away the emotions to make power more important. She’s a fearful warrior, there can be no doubt, but it is not until the end of the film that she feels like a two-dimensional character. The opening doesn’t give us a chance to see her vulnerability or her insecurities. We just see a woman who battles against authority and wants to fight. We could have done with seeing more of her previous life and childhood. It feels as though there are plenty of stories there with a bully for a father and the sexism she witnesses in the Air Force. But instead, this is just glossed over.

I understand why people might think the character deserved better because, when I think about it more, it could have gone better. As an introduction for further films, though, it just about works. However, I think Marvel have gone too far in the opposite direction whilst trying to prove a point. But, and it’s an important but, the final act of this film is breathtaking and completely sells the film for me. It’s final and overall message is a promising and important one. We see a woman accepting that she doesn’t need to prove herself to anyone. She ignores everyone who tells her that she can’t do what she wants. That she is too emotional or weak. And she proves them all wrong by being the most powerful being that the MCU has ever seen. This is not your average “girl-power” Spice Girls nonsense. This is a fully fledged feminist fable. It made me cry and it made me happy I was a woman. This film made me feel empowered and, really, that’s the most important thing, right?

Yes, I could have done with more scenes of her just kicking arse but we’ll get there. I also think, given who is playing her, that the Captain could have been funnier. The best lines are given to other people, which seems like a massive waste of talent. So, yeah, there are flaws. And, unfortunately for Captain Marvel, there have been some outstanding Marvel films of late. It just makes it feel less. But, in terms of what this stands for and in terms of the future of the MCU, this is huge. If Captain Marvel gets the right treatment in End Game then we could be set for something great. And, let’s not forget, Steve’s films only got better and it took Thor 3 attempts to make something great. Why are we being so harsh on Carol?

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