Release date: March 8, 2019 (USA)
Directed by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Screenplay by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law.
Captain Marvel is a true millennial experience. If all the references are something you actually lived through in your teen or tween years, you are a millennial.
The film starts with an amnesic Vers, a Starforce warrior who is actually the U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Carol Danvers. While trying to remember her origins, she and her Kree companions fight against the Skrull, a race of shape-shifting aliens. After a mission goes wrong she ends up in Earth where she will learn about who she is, who she’s actually fighting for, and how to use her powers to her full potential.
Captain Marvel starts slow, but things are better once we hit Earth, and it keeps getting better as it moves along. In that way, it’s like the anti-Thor, where things were more exciting in Asgard (and other alien places), than in Earth. In
Captain Marvel we didn’t get to know much of Hala (homeworld of the Kree) or the other alien places, and it just showed us Carol (Brie Larson) interacting with her commander and mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), and then the rest of the team. But on Earth we get all the character development and great performances. We also get all the 90s references, without them being too in your face. Except for the soundtrack that is, which I loved. The score though was also very 90s but in a more subdued way, that was appreciated.
And on Earth we also get Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)!
Brie Larson sometimes plays Carol Danvers as an adorkable Tony Stark. She’s sure of herself, fond one-liners, and quite independent-thinking for a military woman. But she was also vulnerable, specially regarding her past, had a goofy smile, made bad jokes, and she doesn’t always take her enemies seriously. That said, it is time Marvel stops making characters as a “kind of Tony Stark”, even if they struck gold with him. My favourite moments with Carol were the ones where she was less Tony Stark, and more when she was having fun discovering her strength, when she realized that she is more than her powers, and she saw she had nothing to prove.
Back to Nick Fury, their chemistry was spectacular. And we can see this is a different Nick Fury from the one we know. It’s obvious he’s yet to have his director of S.H.I.E.L.D. persona, but you can see he’s getting there. Also, that digital de-aging? Fantastic! I almost thought it was makeup! But for some reason, it didn’t look as great on Clark Gregg’s Coulson.
With Danvers and Fury teaming up, this became a sort of buddy cop movie, with a slight fish-out-of-water element.
As for the other characters, the other highlight was Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, the leader of the Skrulls on Earth. He was fantastic at impersonating Fury’s boss, Keller, who was all serious business and American accent. But he was even better as his Skrull self, with his own Australian accent, and a more laid-back and fun attitude. The fact that we are getting used to see him as a villain, works great for him as the not-really-antagonist.
Jude Law as Yon-Rogg was just fine. It’s just that his character’s chemistry with Carol paled compared to her chemistry with Fury. His constant reminders to Carol that she should control her feelings were annoying, specially because she hardly lost control. He looked better as a cunning leader when interacting either with the rest of his elite Kree team, and with his superiors.
Talking about that Kree team, they didn’t have much to do, but the few things they were given were entertaining. Their relationship with Carol was fun, even if they were one-note.
But let’s go back to the ladies, starting with Annette Bening as both the Supreme Intelligence and Dr. Wendy Lawson. Her interactions with Carol were fantastic as a wise elder in both cases, even if the approach of either character was quite different. The slightly crazed look of the Supreme Intelligence contrasted with Dr. Lawson’s calm and kind demeanor. Also, YES to her being more than she looks!
Then there’s two actresses that shined through and gave heart to the movie: Lashana Lynch and Akira Akbar as mother-and-daughter team of Maria and Monica Rambeau. Their relationship with Carol Danvers was first shown through quick flashes of not-so-forgotten memories, and when they reunited they gave her an anchor to her past, and who she really is. Lynch as Maria is a strong woman who, just like Carol, had to punch through the glass ceiling to get where she wanted to be. On the other hand, Larson’s scenes with Akbar were adorable and uplifting, and whoever gets the part of Monica Rambeau in the future better be as awesome as this young girl.
Oh yeah, Goose, played by 4 different cats, was great too! He was both a plot device and comic relief.
As we can expect from an MCU movie, Captain Marvel also gives references to the other movies, specially that first Avengers movie and Avengers: Infinity War, as a way to fill in “plot holes”. And as predictable as Captain Marvel can be, mainly because it reminds us a lot of those MCU first phase films and their origin stories, it manages to give us a couple of plot twists, that may manage to surprise comic-book fans and gives us food for thought for future movies.
Captain Marvel is not a great movie, but it does what it sets up to do. Just like Ant-Man and The Wasp, it has low stakes and lots of fun. And just like that movie, Captain Marvel serves as the breath of air we need before the rollercoasters of emotions we’ll feel when Avengers: Endgame comes.
P.S.: There are two post-credits scenes: one directly related to Avengers: Endgame, and another who immediately answered a silly question we had after the movie ended and it’s basically a gag.