Marvel’s latest film, "Captain Marvel," provides surges of disappointed expectations. The 21st entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has entertaining moments, but ultimately offers a mediocre experience. This bland and forgettable entry absolutely baffled me, reminding me of ‘Phase One’ films from which Marvel should have learned by now.
The story follows Carol Danvers, a super-powered hero who crash-lands in Los Angeles in 1995. Attracting the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D, she informs humanity how Earth is caught in a galactic war between two alien races. Teaming up with a young Nick Fury, the duo work to thwart the incoming invasion and uncover the secrets of Captain Marvel’s past.
Serving as a build up to "Avengers: Endgame," which premiers next month, "Captain Marvel" introduces Marvel Studios' first female-led superhero film. Its feminine themes instantly sparked backlash toward this film, resulting in review-bombing and a swath of bitter internet men.
Being the first female-led entry for the MCU, her gender is constantly mentioned. This does not serve as decent character development, as Agent Carter, Black Widow and Daisy Johnson have already proved to be strong female role-models. Studio interference was easily seen, leading to this formulaic mess that felt derived from focus tests and comic book checklists.
Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn take up a bulk of the screen time. Other supporting actors include Annette Bening, Jude Law and Lashana Lynch. All of the actors give a serviceable performance, with only Jackson and Mendelsohn going the extra mile.
The de-aging of Nick Fury was extremely impressive, giving Jackson a fascinating chance to portray a younger role. When a 70-year-old man is running circles around the lead actress, it indicates a serious fault in character development.
Girl-Power antics aside, Carol Danvers is simply bland and uninteresting. Captain Marvel is a fascinating superhero, but this film portrays her as a painfully blank-slate. Overpowered and invulnerable, she barely struggles with anything except a mundane amnesia plot-line.
There are flashes of legitimate joy in Brie Larson’s acting, but fun personality and genuine motivation are nowhere to be seen. Larson is a terrific actress, yet she was stuck with a script that left her with a weak character.
Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck directed this film, but they did not have the experience needed to pull it off. I guarantee the Russo Brothers will offer a far better version of Carol Danvers in "Avengers: Endgame."
At the start of the film, endless scenes of expositional dialogue dragged on like nails against a chalkboard. Painfully forced, it spouted context about the war between the Kree and Skrulls with the same impact as TV sci-fi.
The pacing significantly improved with the first action scene, but the plot kept repeating itself to hold the audience’s hand. Fun moments were distracted by a melodramatic amnesia story, providing irritating tonal inconsistency. The humor was a saving grace, but even some of the jokes were set up way too far in advance.
Taking place in the 90’s was an interesting choice, before they beat it into the ground. Rubix cubes and Nirvana showed up, losing credibility by playing to nostalgia instead of legitimate story structure.
The goofy inclusion of "Just A Girl" by No Doubt for a fight scene was the final straw, as it tried working off the tone of "Guardians of the Galaxy." This film does not hold a candle to the heart and effort placed into that series, appearing instead like a soulless husk of corporate schlock.
Scathing criticisms aside, what this film accomplishes is fairly admirable. There are some great callbacks for Marvel fans, a beautiful tribute to Stan Lee, and decent change-ups to the story. It is never boring, but those aspects do not save the final product.
Following "Avengers: Endgame," I worry Disney will curtail the ambition that led to Marvel’s initial success. Hopefully the brutal treatment of Star-Wars is not a horrific indicator of what is to come to future Marvel films.
Overall, I would recommend this film to Marvel fans, but they likely will not re-watch it. It holds similar importance as "Thor: The Dark World" or "Iron Man 2," simply bridging the gap to the next event film.
"Captain Marvel" is currently running in theaters, and will remain for the next few weeks. Captain Marvel and the Skrulls will certainly appear in future films, but hopefully they return with competent effort next time.