Captain Marvel Review
Captain Marvel Marvel MCU Stan Lee 90s
With that having been said, what was the movie like? What would make you want to see it or not see it? Who is this movie for, and who is it not for?
First of all, anyone who loves Stan Lee should see this movie. Marvel Studios constantly makes it difficult for me anoint one in particular as the best. For a while there I thought that it was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but they keep on getting better.
Second, there are feminist themes, evoked about twice, both with regard to the Air Force. The setting justifies this, since Carol Danvers faced some discrimination in the Air Force during the 80's. Go back and watch a movie like G.I. Jane and you'll see that the feminist topics in this movie are a good fit for the times. The most feminist thing that the movie did, and the only thing that might be remotely overreaching, was changing an established character from the comic books from a man to a woman. Some people are going to be fine with that, others won't, and I think that it ultimately depends on how attached you were to that character from the comics.
Third, there was surprisingly little 90's nostalgia. On one hand, I'm very nostalgic about the 90's and was disappointed. On the other hand, exploiting decades' nostalgia is pretty gimmicky, so it could be a good thing that they didn't harp it to the same extent that the Guardians of the Galaxy movies did. The best 90's stuff in the movie actually wasn't the overt references to popular culture, but the things that I subconsciously picked up on, such as the make of the cars, the technology, and even the architecture. These details created an ambient sense that I was watching a 90's film, because I remember what 90's technology feels like.
But let's get to the real questions that people are asking. Was the main character any good? Well, it's complicated. The trailers didn't do this movie justice, since they chose all of the most monotone moments of line delivery to represent this character. She does have some humor and charm. However, I don't think that she's quite as magnetic as some of the other Marvel leading characters, and I'm not fully invested in her as I would have liked. I'm not entirely sure if this is the fault of the director or the actress, and I feel conflicted saying this because I've seen Brie Larson in a few other things, and she's definitely a talented actress. There was something missing. I've seen a couple of reviews saying that she's now officially the most charming person in the MCU and that Tony Stark can step aside; these reviews are clearly pushing an agenda. At the end of the day, her performance isn't burned into my memory quite like Josh Brolin's Thanos was, or perhaps to make a more apples-to-apples comparison, Melissa Benoist's Kara Danvers. I've had some time to think about it, and I think that the one element that was missing was vulnerability, at least in the performance. It was also somewhat there in the directing, particularly during a big moment in the movie when Carol Danvers realizes who she is, and why she's going to "end" the war instead of "fight" it. It was a moment that should have played strongly on the character's internal conflict, and while it was there in writing, the directors breezed through the scene too easily. As I said, her greatest moment of self-revelation should have had some vulnerability and made our hearts break for the character.
That isn't to say that the character is unlikable. She does have a decent story arc, good writing, and isn't a Mary Sue, as some people were speculating. She does earn her powers, does go through growth, does have complexity, have interesting relationships, and she isn't wantonly over-powered. I'm actually surprised at how nerfed her powers were, given the hype I was hearing from some that she's the most powerful person in the MCU, and the MCU's version of Superman. Based off of what I've seen in this movie, she's about as powerful as Thor, but not as powerful as Doctor Strange and Thanos, and definitely not the MCU's Superman.
I go on all of this at such length because, in context, this film is under heavy scrutiny over whether or not the character is a Mary Sue. Ultimately, my verdict is that she isn't, not the way she's written. I don't foresee there being too many Youtube videos criticizing this movie's in the same way that Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi was. However, if you thought that you might have a problem with Brie Larson herself, then you just might walk out from viewing this with it unchanged.
The highlight of this movie is 90's Samuel L. Jackson. He's easily the best part, and looking at other reviews, people are consistently coming to this same conclusion. You don't notice the de-aging in the slightest. People have also been saying that the cat from the trailers also stole the show, and the breakout star, but I don't necessarily agree. As nice as the cat was, I don't really think that it's one of the best parts of the film. For me, that was Stan Lee, although I already said that. To name something other than him and Samuel Jackson, I did like Ben Mendelsohn.
Overall, it was a standard Marvel movie. In my personal estimation, a little bit better than the trailers. There's a chance that you might think that it's the best one to date. Everyone seems to say that about the most recent Marvel movie. They said it about Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War., back to back. I don't see it that way. To me, this is closer to Ant Man and the Wasp, which is just fine. Perhaps the only area in which that is a problem is that the end-credits scene from Avengers: Infinity War hyped this up so much as being something as groundbreaking as Thanos, and this film was meant to build up to be a real game-changer for Avengers: Endgame, but I didn't necessarily find that it has the gravitas for that. I also don't know how invested I am in this character over others that will be appearing in Endgame. With that in mind, don't watch this because of the next Avengers movie, but rather to enjoy the adventure of this story on its own merits. It stands on its own quite well.
Wait...isn't she technically the "First Avenger?" At least by name? Or if we're going to say that Captain America was the first on the basis that he was around before her, would then Thor technically be the first Avenger?