After Twenty MCU films, the Twenty First finally has a female lead. Captain Marvel is a fascinating character, and this origin film does wonders to explain her and her motivations. However, with a huge Thanos-shaped shadow still hanging over the MCU, this film suffers from a lack of stakes, originality or excitement.
After kicking off proceedings with a glorious Stan Lee tribute, the film quickly grinds to a halt as we find Brie Larson on an alien planet, suffering from amnesia but still a super soldier. Her people are locked in a war with a shape-shifting alien race, and are trying to get to her in order to find out secrets she herself doesn’t even know. After finding her way to Earth in 1995, she will slowly discover that her past has far more secrets than she first thought.
Brie Larson plays Captain Marvel, though she is never referred to as such in the film, and boy is she wonderful. She is strong and cocky, and this works well for the script and the character, though it does sometimes mean we lose some of the emotion of her story. Alongside her is Samuel L. Jackson, reprising his MCU role as Nick Fury, but this time digitally de-aged 20 years in some of the most impressively subtle visual effects I’ve ever seen.
The rest of the cast includes Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch and Clark Gregg back as Agent Coulson in his first MCU feature film appearance since 2012’s The Avengers. He and Sam Jackson have a small amount of on screen time together, but this was a real highlight, and gave me serious M.I.B vibes. The rest of the cast all do decent jobs with what they’re given, but honestly, everyone is majorly let down by a pretty rubbish screenplay.
The narrative is all over the place, and for an origin film this is never good. The story unfolds clumsily and without enough explanation, and the action scenes are very slowly paced and completely lacking in threat. Most disappointingly, the film has the absolute WORST twist villain reveal I’ve seen in a long time. Having totally avoided the trailers, I went into this film completely and utterly unprepared for what I was about to watch. However, within five seconds of the character being on screen, I was positive they were going to be the villain, and low and behold I was right.
The humour of Captain Marvel also very hit and miss, and though many jokes land well, there are many lines of dialogue that sacrifice logic for a cheap gag. In one scene, an Alien says “you must look after your neighbours, because you never know when you might need a cup of sugar”. But how does the alien even know what sugar is, or what neighbours are, or that humans are often require to borrow sugar from said neighbour in order to improve their tea. I know it seems I’m being pedantic about one joke, but there are many examples like this littered throughout the film, and they really don’t work.
The design of the film is really great, with the colours and special effects standing up against most of the other Marvel movies, though some CGI moments do suffer a little bit of the Playstation aesthetic. The score by Hans Zimmer prodigy Pinar Toprak is great and blends big symphonic themes with soft electronic touches.
And don’t get me started on the cat. There’s a cat in the film, and there’s loads of jokes involving it and I just didn’t find any of them funny. The rest of the audience watching the film were loving them, but I just couldn’t find anything about it funny, and instead thought it was stupid and another example of a cheap laugh affecting the logic of the film. Yeah, I wasn’t a fan of the cat.
Overall, Captain Marvel is great fun but very underwhelming. With Avengers: Endgame’ less than two months away, this feels like an average starter for what will hopefully be an absolutely delicious main course.