Captain Marvel Movie Review
Since I talked about the Kelly Sue DeConnick run last week as prep for going to see the movie, I wanted to talk this week about my thoughts after having seen the movie. Captain Marvel is Marvel’s most recent superhero film, their first to feature a female lead and helps to tie together some threads in preparation for Avengers: Endgame which is coming out in late April. Released on March 8th, Captain Marvel has had a strong start commercially but reviews have generally been pretty mixed. Part of this is due to the controversy around its star, Brie Larson. Since I don’t want to get bogged down in what I consider ill-advised phrasing and a knee-jerk reaction in response, you can get more info from this article which delves into it. I’m going to do my best to avoid big spoilers but figured I’d best put a warning in here anyway. Without further ado, on to the review!
For those who may have been living under a rock since 2016 and haven’t yet heard, Captain Marvel takes place in 1995, when the eponymous superhero crash lands on Earth after a battle with the aliens known as Skrulls. The movie starts with Captain Marvel working on an elite team of Kree (another alien race that may be familiar to fans of Guardians of the Galaxy) warriors whose goal is to crush the Skrull before the latter can infiltrate and destroy another world. When the battle leads to Captain Marvel getting stranded on Earth (along with several Skrulls), she must find some human allies to prevent Earth from getting embroiled in the galactic war between the Skrull and the Kree. At the same time, Captain Marvel is struggling with memories of another life as a United States Air Force pilot named Carol Danvers. Captain Marvel must discover the truth of these memories if she hopes to prevent the Earth from becoming a battleground and establish her own place in the universe.
Captain Marvel is a good Marvel superhero movie that is going to speak very differently to different people. I don’t think it’s the strongest Marvel movie and I will say that I think it has one of the weakest character arcs to date. I very much enjoyed Captain Marvel for the action and the personality of Carol more than for the plotline. The same weakness that was in the initial Kelly Sue DeConnick run is present here: it has to spend a lot of time setting Carol up as a powerful superhero and establishing her mythos. Captain Marvel has a lot to set up in little time since this is Captain Marvel’s first appearance and it cannot rely on characters having been established in previous Marvel movies like Black Panther did. It also has to make connections between the Avengers movies so it doesn’t have as much room to grow as Guardians of the Galaxy did to fantastic effect. In some ways, it reminded me of some of the problems that the DC movies have run into. It’s just trying to do too much and be too much (as Marvel’s first female led superhero movie) to satisfy everyone.
However, Captain Marvel does speak to people like me and for that, I really enjoyed it. Throughout the film, Carol is often confident, always snarky and unafraid to recognize her own strengths. She’s extremely stubborn and refuses to ever back down from a challenge. She felt like exactly the kind of personality I’d expect to see from a fighter pilot and a refreshing change for female characters. She’s not worried about being sexy or being a team player, she’s just herself and if you don’t like it, you can fuck off. That’s unusual to see and it’s a great carryover from DeConnick’s run where she really made Carol into a character who was unapologetically headstrong. Much like Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel also does an excellent job of showing women supporting each other, particularly in the relationship between Carol and her friend and fellow pilot, Maria Rambeau. A character like Carol Danvers isn’t going to appeal to everyone but for stubborn, strong-willed women, it was nice to finally get that mirror on the silver screen. And the friendship that develops with her and Nick Fury was an absolute delight.
Unlike with a lot of Marvel movies, there isn’t really a consistent character arc for Captain Marvel. She does struggle with missing memories but she never seems to struggle as much as I’d expect with coming back to Earth after being gone for years. And the ending sets up Carol to be incredibly powerful as she more or less wades her way through enemies once her self-doubt and other influences have been eliminated. I’m a little worried that she’s going to turn into Marvel’s version of Superman: all powerful and just as boring. With any luck, Marvel will do a better job of making her both powerful and still as complex as any human.
As Marvel’s first female led superhero movie, there were a lot of expectations for Captain Marvel and while I really enjoyed it, I think it’s pretty clear why there are mixed reviews even if you discount the trolls who are loudly boycotting the movie. The plotline with the Kree vs the Skrulls got confusing in sections and while the action is great,Carol’s character arc felt flat. But it was still so damned refreshing to see a female superhero who isn’t afraid to be herself and to thumb her nose at anyone who tells her what she can’t do. Overall, I think Captain Marvel is well worth seeing and I think it does an excellent job of translating Kelly Sue DeConnick’s vision to the silver screen!
Have you seen Captain Marvel? Let me know what you think in the comments and see you next week for something a little less superhero-centric!