Captain Marvel (2019)
It took them eleven years, but we finally have our first female solo movie in the MCU. My anticipation to see this film earlier in the year was at a record high, despite the fact that I try to control my enthusiasm until after the first viewing; Wonder Woman might have been one of the most empowering films for women in previous years, but this is my superhero. So, did the wait pay off?
Yes and no. Captain Marvel is a solid, enjoyable first outing for the most powerful superhero the MCU has ever had, but it struggles to keep a jaw-dropping momentum, feeling more like a Phase One movie than a Phase Three.
Set in 1995, Vers (Larson) is a woman living on the planet of Hala, with no memory of how she got there or who she was prior to being found by Yon-Rogg (Law), her mentor. After escaping capture by the Skrull Talos (Mendelsohn), Vers lands on Earth, where she uncovers the truth about herself.
Larson is a perfect casting choice, however, she’s not given as much to do as perhaps I would like. With the Vers given only six years of life to feed upon in terms of characteristics, she plays a little cool, and one might suspect that she will be more fleshed out in future instalments. Had it not been for the incredibly talented Brie Larson, it might have been difficult to connect to the character at all, as personality is only just building up.
The film really kicks into gear when Vers lands on Earth - crashing into a Blockbuster and immediately collecting herself to grab some “communications equipment” from a Radio Shack – and meets up with Fury (Jackson), S.H.I.E.L.D. agent a teensy bit green around the gills. Larson and Jackson’s chemistry is fantastic, having an easy rapport with one another, and his more grounded spy clashes with her up-in-the-clouds superhero perfectly.
The heart of the story, however, is given to Vers’ Earth best friend from yore, Maria Rambeau (Lynch). A scene in her kitchen between the two will tug on your heart strings firmly, and Lynch proves to be a talent to watch, providing our connection to the rest of the characters.
It’s ballsy to start off your latest superhero origin story with, well, your character already super, but we should know by now that Marvel Studios has confidence to spare (they have, after all, introduced us to a talking raccoon and a man who shrinks down to the size of an ant). So it’s not surprising to see Vers already up and running, even if not at full strength. With a different boldness to her than that of previous women in the MCU, she is a tad on the cocky side, knowing full well what her powers can achieve.
Pacing wise, the film doesn’t benefit quite as well from. As mentioned above, the film already starts with a super-infused Vers, so a lot of her human life is told in flashback and visions that she experiences along the way. A neat little camera trick towards the beginning of the movie, in which Skrulls are attempting to hijack her brain in order to obtain information, is inventively done, but these moments are few and far between, and the jerky pacing gives you slight whiplash, not to mention confusion with some people who may not be as familiar with the source material as others.
Luckily, it does more than enough to satiate, although I’d like to see a sequel do for this movie what The Winter Soldier did for The First Avenger. Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson are great together, and Lynch is a distinct standout in a world of cold faces, but it doesn’t quite feel fleshed out enough.