Review ~ Captain Marvel
In the process to Review Captain Marvel, I might give away some spoilers, so before you read this BEWARE!
Loosly based on the 2012 version of Captain Marvel in Marvel Comics where Carol Danvers takes up the mantle of Marr Vell. The film borrows from all 4-5 versions of Captain Marvel and is based in the mid 1990’s on Kree where Carol Danvers is Vers (Brie Larson), a Kree Imperial Militia trained in combat with the Skrulls by her mentor Yon Rogg played by Jude Law, who has taught her to fight Skrulls no matter what!
The film, an origin story of a superhero more powerful than Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Panther and Spider Man combined (well Dr. Strange is a Wizard) comes too late in the Marvel Universe when the other stories have moved much ahead and have already told stories that have gone beyond their origins and are placed to well in the Marvel Universe.
However, after the long standing demand of a Black Widow solo film that would have started the ball rolling in MCU for female lead superhero franchise and the much deserved success of DCEU’s Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot, Marvel’s Kevin Feige finally brought in Captain Marvel to be a Superheroine who could possibly be the most powerful Hero of all time in the MCU.
The Film starts in a Skrull dystopia in what looks like the Kree Land with Vers having nightmarish visuals from a memory that she has no clue about, so she focuses on training herself with her commander Yon Rogg and the Supreme Intelligence, an AI leader of Kree to control her emotions from having better of her military training. When Yon Rugg takes her to a rescue mission, she mistakes a Shape Shifting Skrull as one her own and gets abducted.
This is where the self discovery of Vers begins when the Skrulls try to extract visuals from her memory to find out a missing tech. Bewildered with the atrocity, she revolts and fights the Skrulls and manages to escape in a Pod, landing on planet C-53 (Earth).
This is where she is met with a young Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), both digitally made younger with more hair than their current roles in Agents of SHIELD and Avengers.
Though in the TV show Agents of SHIELD and Guardians of Galaxy Kree and Ronan (Lee Pace) have already been shown as big bad villains, in this origin movie they start as good boys or so we are told. The film set between 1989 and 1995 has the burden of being in line with the MCU timeline and tell it’s story within the set time while being able to tie it all up to directly lead to Avengers: End Game and also give backstories to existing characters, planets and it’s people and objects in Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not missing the pressure of first standalone Female Superhero in the Universe.
So in this entire process you see Phil Coulson’s origins and Fury’s blind faith in him, the Re-surfacing of the Tessaract on Earth, Skrulls are they good guys or bad guys? Kree were good people in the 90s? And the biggest MCU mystery of all – How did Fury lose his one good eye, the last time he trusted someone (in his own words in Winter Soldier)? Who was the misplaced trust on? Why did he wait till the end of Infinity war to page Captain Marvel when he knew her all along? How did the Avenger Initiative begin? What triggered it? Why are Skrulls scared of the cutest mystery cat since Men In Black II? How did Fury had the Tesseract in Avengers 2012 before Loki takes it away with the help of Elric and Barton! Is Danvers at the same air base that we saw the remaining Avengers after the snap lining up in the End Game trailer? Too many things to tie in!
The cat called Goose (Top Gun Reference! HULLLO!!!) who is a Flerkin, a species that can carry pocket dimensions inside them ( Remember the MIB marbles on the cat! -90s ref nailed again!). Like Fury in the film, you too will fall in love with the cat who is certainly going to be a new big meme post the film’s release.
Maria Rambeau, is Bucky to Danver’s Rogers! The best friend that she didn’t remember until she did, played by Lashana Lynch . Then there’s the adorable Monica Rambeau played by Akira Akbar. Monica for the comic book fans is better known as the second character to be Captain Marvel in comic books, so this is an interesting take on her and would be even more interesting to see playing out in the future Captain Marvel Movies set on Earth or C-53!
Ben Mendelsohn who plays the shape Shifting Skrull Talos (And Keller) is super funny and marks his territory with his presence in a film that already has Nick Fury.
There’s also reference to Dr. Philip Lawson the inventor, in the comic it’s Danver’s love interest while in the movie played by Annette Bening who also appears to Vers as Supreme Intelligence of the Kree. All these characters play well in the scheme of things to take us through the origins of Captain Marvel that includes a side note conversation between fury and danvers of the name’s origins from Mar-Vell to Marvel in comic vs the fun take in the film.
The film is full of 90’s reference and for the 90s’ kids it will be so fun to figure and rejoice.
The styling of the film be it the Guns and Roses merchandise and the Axl Rose grunge style on Danvers, or the black tie government agents. It works perfectly to the tee. So does the music from Nirvana and others 90 hits staying in line with the Guardians of the Galaxy and the latest Thor: Ragnarok to play with the references from the tracks in the film for fun and emotion, specially in the big action sequences. This works in the MCU and the makers know how to milk it to the T.
There’s a fun little reference to Fresh Prince of Bel Air that will also leave you in splits.
It works well on an emotional level too as the first film to release post the death of the Marvel legend Stan-Lee and it’s an extremely fine ode to the man. Be it with the intro logo where all the MCU characters are replaced by Stan’s avatars or the note that is for Stan or his little dialogue Cameo.
Screenplay writers and Directors Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck take up a tough task to tell origin stories in the conclusion era, specially after the mega back to back successes of Marvels own Black Panther origin that has become it’s first Oscar winning film and a massive phenomenon to DCEU’s pick up in back to back origin story hit flicks in Wonder Woman and Aquaman.
They do manage to give the franchise a kickstart for the future but still make one of the weaker films in the slate of 20 blockbusters of MCU. However, the film still managing to set the tone of a humorous, emotional super-heroine that wants to stop wars in the Phase III of MCU will have the fan boys and fan girls super excited.
The action is limited to hand to hand combat between Vers and and Yon-Rugg and then Vers and Skrulls in the beginning of the film and a lot of Photon blasts, blitzkriegs and flying nuts later in the film. They weren’t as defined and finished like we have seen in Thor movies or even in Man of Steel (DC) for instance. The film rides on the marvel styled catchphrases, fun dialogues but has limited action.
Given that Captain Marvel is in the path to discover herself in this movie and isn’t really certain about all the powers she has had all along but were suppressed for the reasons explained in the film, it is ok to give them the benefit of doubt in this one for the larger purpose it serves.
Especially, when they see the mid credit scene that introduces her to the Avengers for the first time in a very very interesting way and the end credit scene that may explain how Fury had the tesseract which many believed was found by Stark during his search of Captain America.
Captain Marvel is no wonder woman, but Oscar winner Brie Larson makes a decent film with her performance for her entry in the MCU that will take the franchise forward with better films. It ties the universe together to an extent and will take it forward too, making it an event film before a tent pole event film for the MCU.
I give this film 3 and a half stars because there has to be a better film next time but if it were a stand alone film it would have failed to excite me that much more.