Review by Tony B Kim
3 years ago, I remember being in the cavernous cave of Hall H, waiting for the traditional epic conclusion of Saturday's programming with the Marvel panel. As anticipated, it did not disappoint as we watched sneak peeks on Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Thor Ragnorak. As the epic day concluded, the cast of all of the upcoming movies came out for a giant group selfie. To our surprise, Brie Larson was quickly announced as the new Captain Marvel. Those in attendance went bananas and I remember the room a buzz as many took to their phones to google 'Brie Larson' and Captain Marvel. This weekend, the long wait is over and we finally celebrate a new era for Marvel.
I'l get straight to it; I loved this film. It certainly isn't perfect but I felt it told this origin story in a unique way- which is no small task being over twenty films into the MCU. Overall, it was positive, emotional and a totally fun adventure. the unconventional storytelling was intriguing and really found the 'time jumping' an interesting window into Carol Danvers past. Brie Larson really excelled as Vers, aka: Carol Danvers. Unless you live inside the belly of a flerken, you've probably heard about the toxic 'fanboy' reaction to Brie Larson and her feminists ideals for this Marvel character. While I'm not female, I am Asian and can relate to the oppression and discrimination that is prevalent in culture. What I loved about this film was the broader narrative of this story. It's not just about Danvers discovering who she is but it's about who she needs to fight for. In her journey of self discovery, the villianized Skrulls turned out to be a scattered group of refugees longing for a home. These immigrants were marginalized and Captain Marvel was faced with the choice of turning on her own comrades or standing up for those that couldn't stand for themselves. This is the essence of being a hero. It means turning hate into love and sometimes, sacrificing your life for others that are not like you. We need a message like this.
Back to other elements I liked from the film. De-aged Sam Jackson was amazing. A little scary in fact since it was impossible to see any signs of the 70 year old actor. If this was Nick Fury's first introduction into the MCU, I am convinced no one would be the wiser. The 'buddy cop' adventure was filled with chemistry from this unlikely duo and I could have watched an entire Netflix series with just them in a Chrysler road tripping across America. It was also great to see Agent Coulson back in action. While brief (and a little less convincing) it reminded me how much I missed him in the MCU and wished they would bring him back in.
The film finds another gear when Danvers is reunited with her BFF Maria Rambeau. While a little rushed, the strength of their friendship is undeniable- and long over due when you consider it's been over a decade into the MCU and we are just now seeing a female friendship of this caliber. I'm really glad that in the midst of a packed third act, she got a chance to show off her piloting and combat skills. Ben Mendelsohn was a surprise for me. I love him as an actor but didn't expect him to deliver such a sympathetic character in Talos. Mendelsohn is someone you love to hate but he successfully subverted expectations by the end. Goose the cat was awesome. Almost a little overplayed but yet another surprising addition to this story.
In general, I am not a big fan of amnesia based stories. They tend to be a contrived and convenient plot device which are rarely satisfying. While not as bothersome to me as usual, I do feel their were some similar frustrations with this one. Memory loss stories mainly work when the audience is just as in the dark and the main character. So when the truth unfolds, the emotional impact hits with a greater weight. But in Captain Marvel, the audience already knew who Carol Danvers was for most of the film. It wasn't a major issue for me but the payoff wasn't as powerful as it should have been.
The transition to the current MCU was perfect. While I knew this was a 90s film, I didn't really view it as a 'prequel' to Avengers. So I quietly squealed with delight when we learn that Carol Danvers served as an inspiration for the World's Mightiest Heroes. No doubt that some might have issue with this since Captain America was dubbed 'The First Avenger' but I found it smart and rewarding.
In general, Captain Marvel accomplished what it needed to. Introduced a new origin story in a creative and compelling way while wanting me to see how her role will impact the MCU in Avengers Endgame. I would probably rank this around slot 6 for my overall favorite Marvel films. I would love to hear your thoughts on what you loved and what you thought could be better. Leave a comment below!
You can follow Tony on Twitter @Crazy4ComicCon
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