It was highly appropriate that Captain Marvel was released on International Women’s Day, as one thing you can’t deny about this movie is that the girls are running the show. It’s high time that a female character got to headline a Marvel movie (previously only managing the co-lead of Ant-Man and the Wasp) – I mean, they had three attempts with Hulk getting rather dire solo outings already!!
Anyway. Vers (pronounced ‘veers’) is a Kree warrior, a heroic species tasked with stopping the evil Skruls from taking over the universe. Vers (Brie Larson) is powerful, gifted with a photon blast ability from her hands, but still being schooled by her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), to overcome her emotions – love, hate, fear; none will serve in battle. But she’s tormented by the fact that she has no memory of her early life, of who she really is.
Events conspire to crash Vers through the roof of a Blockbuster video store on 1990s ‘C 53’ aka Earth. She’s still on a mission to track down the Skruls that landed with her, hindered by the fact that they are perfect shape-shifters. Oh, and a certain Agent Fury of SHIELD needs to be convinced that she’s one of the good guys…
I have mixed feelings about this movie. On the one hand, I do love Marvel and this fits in well with the upcoming ‘Endgame’ – tying everything together story-wise and the different strands of previous films (worlds of Avengers v. Guardians, for example), nods to the history of some characters we already know, certain naming choices, etc etc. I was amazed by how well the de-aging technology has progressed, with Samuel L Jackson looking like his younger self without any hint of that ‘wtf’ from back in Tron: Legacy (2010) for instance.
Brie Larson is pretty fantastic in the role, kicking ass and displaying grit and vulnerability that we’ve come to expect from the best of Marvel. However, the humour is… strained? I found her smart mouth less amusing – or convincing – than, say, Ant-Man’s version, and there was one scene where I just couldn’t tell if it was meant to be funny or if the stoney glare was just… well, funny. Mostly it felt like she was playing it straight then giving a dopey grin now and then. Was this a character choice? I just wasn’t sure.
Marvel’s sense of humour has always been a strength, but I’m not sure they got the balance right here. Fury’s softer side, cooing over a cat (Goose is a highlight of the film, btw!), does work nicely as a ‘before he got more cynical’ but does it sit with the ‘war makes good people do bad things’ message? Or the slightly heavy-handed ‘women aren’t treated well’, girl-power, stuff? The humour derived from the ‘period’ (ow, I feel old!) could have set a tone that it didn’t, as if it was an afterthought to ‘how do we make this fit in with 20 other movies’ – fair enough, but still… it all felt a bit ‘right ingredients, something worthwhile to say’, but not quite hitting enough high points using everything they had.
Captain Marvel is a mid-stack Marvel movie for me, alas. It was entertaining but it didn’t live up to the heights of Black Panther, Infinity War, or even Iron Man. So yeah, it’s fab to see a tough woman kicking ass, but I dunno. Maybe my expectations were too high. Still, I’m more than happy to see if a second viewing makes it work better for me – focusing on what works more than the beats that weren’t hit – as I’m jealous of everyone who’s come out raving about it.
Released: 8th March 2019
Viewed: 9th March 2019
Running time: 124 minutes
My rating: 7.5/10