Captain Marvel (2019): The Definition of Average
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Marvel set the standard of how a superhero movie should be and they continue to redefine that standard. When it was announced that Marvel’s first female led superhero film was gonna hit theatres back in 2019, it was safe to say that expectations were high. However, Captain Marvel (2019) somehow only managed to meet expectations; rather than exceeding the norm or transforming the formula, Captain Marvel (2019) is a perfect example of playing it too safe.
Like all the other MCU films that came before it, Captain Marvel (2019) gives us Carol Danvers (played by Brie Larson), a half human half Kree hybrid that fights shapeshifters known as Skrulls. When they find information that Skrulls are invading Earth, Danvers travels there to find and kill them before they can wreak any havoc. Despite her mission prerogative, Carol begins remembering a life she had on Earth, believing herself to be completely Kree. As she pieces together her past and fights Skrulls, Carol meets and quickly befriends S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson). Together they must find a way to stop the Skrull and Kree war before either side is able to turn Earth into a full blown wasteland.
I’ll admit it, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by any sort of superhero origin story. This film made for a good buffer between the epic Avengers Infinity War (2018) and Avengers Endgame (2019), both of which were definitely top tear Marvel content. Captain Marvel (2019) felt like that person you normally put up with but don’t necessarily love to have around all the time. It isn’t like Iron Man (2008) level origin story nor as complex as Batman Begins (2005), but it is better than Thor: The Dark World (2013). Even though the level of popularity it reached was a solid start, you can’t help but walk away thinking that everyone involved tried WAY too hard to make a good superhero film.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: Brie Larson. Before Captain Marvel was even released, it was already getting criticism for Larson’s casting. This may have stemmed from some comments she made that, if taken out of context, may have portrayed her as a man-hater. Many people who didn’t agree with these comments decided to take to “Rotten Tomatoes” and “review bomb” the film, posting consistently negative reviews about the film before it was even released to steer people away from watching it. I will say the review bomb was completely pointless and very stupid. Some people don’t like Brie Larson, I get it, just don’t watch Captain Marvel (2019). Simple as that. While I think she gives a decent performance, it isn’t her best work. Look at Room (2015) if you want to see her give the performance of a lifetime. But I also believe that they wrote the character of Danvers as a poorly written female version of Tony Stark. She’s cocky, sarcastic, with some witty charm, but she comes off as an asshole half the time and this makes her journey less empathetic and her character less relatable. Plus, they put her at GOD level far too soon in her story. Yes, her coming into her full potential is a pivotal moment in the story and it is a visual marvel, yet it feels like she’s over-powered compared to many of the other superheroes within the MCU canon.
While the story does rely heavily on Marvel cliches, it does give audience members a few surprising twists that elevate the story higher than a few other MCU outings; mostly with the villain twist at the end of the 2nd act. Up to this point we were led to believe that the main villains were the Skrulls and more specifically Skrull leader, Talos (played by Ben Mendelsohn). They got the go to villain actor of the 2010s to play a misunderstood antihero and be sort of a villain for most of the runtime, which was good misdirection on Marvel’s part. When the real villain is revealed to be Kree Supreme Intelligence (played by Annette Bening) and Danvers’s commanding officer Yon-Rogg (played by Jude Law). Even though this may be a predictable twist at times, they executed well enough for me not to see it coming.
Captain Marvel (2019) doesn’t break any barriers or make any outstanding accomplishments in ways of groundbreaking cinema, Wonder Woman (2017) did that 2 years earlier. The story is cliched and uninspired, despite some interesting characters, great visuals, and some decent twists. There are themes of empowerment throughout the film, but often come off as forced and undercooked; even though it gives an epic montage of Danvers falling down and getting back up again in the climax, which was a standout moment for the film. Brie Larson gives a solid performance, despite the fact she gets overshadowed by the always charismatic Samuel L. Jackson and delightfully devilish Ben Mendelsohn. If you want to watch a great Marvel movie, look elsewhere. But if you desire a movie to kill some free time, go ahead and dust this off the shelf.