It took 21 movies and nearly eleven years, but Marvel has finally included a female-led superhero film in their epic MCU saga. Is it a revelatory moment? Is it a piece of man-bashing extreme feminism? Is it what female Marvel fans have been craving? Is it what internet trolls have been prognosticating? Is it amazing? Is it awful?
Captain Marvel is, one could say, Marvel Studio’s answer to DC’s crown jewel of Wonder Woman. If we’re to compare the two, however, Marvel comes up woefully short this time. While Wonder Woman created a badass female hero that exhibited a range of positive qualities that tied into her identity as a woman, Captain Marvel creates a badass female hero…and…pretty much stops right there. Yes there’s “girl power” on display in droves, and yes Brie Larson‘s Carol Danvers has a great moment or two or even three, but she never gets to fully step into the role of a three dimensional character. The movie strives for greatness, and makes coming up short all the more obvious.
It shouldn’t even need to be addressed, but no, it’s also not a man-hating piece of propaganda. Sure it was made with a female audience in mind first, but that doesn’t mean it alienates the rest of us, or is somehow anti-men. It’s just steered in a slightly different way than most comic book action movies. So settle down.
Now I started out with the negative, but that’s not to say this is a bad movie, not in the least. I thought it was fantastic fun. It’s just that in pushing higher, further, faster, it sputtered out three quarters of the way there and ends up being a good solid Marvel flick, but nothing like the defining moment in cinema it strives to be. Larson, who has proven her acting chops time and again gives this her all, as does Lashana Lynch who doesn’t seem to realize she’s in a movie about space warriors fighting a war with shape shifting space elves. Chomping down on all this delightful scenery, however, is Ben Mendelsohn, who, as the principal antagonist, is a delight. He brings levity as well as (ironically) humanity to the story as the leader of the shape-shifting Skrulls that Danvers is at war with.
Overall, this film ends up somewhere in the upper middle of the road for Marvel movies. It does not accomplish the greatness it sets out to (I know I already said that twice), but it is a fast-paced fun ride that introduces a promising new hero that will hopefully be better utilized in future films. It also brings a sense of cohesion to the MCU that you didn’t even realize was missing, but puts a lot of puzzle pieces into their final places.
The technical aspect of this movie cannot be overlooked either. Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg both appear in this film as their already established characters of Nick Fury and Agent Coulson. Jackson, in particular, is nearly as much of a lead as Larson herself. With this film taking place back in the 90’s, however, some movie magic needed to be applied. It seems that Disney has all but perfected their de-aging technology, because the younger versions of these actors looked flawless on screen. I don’t know that anyone would look at them and think that something is amiss. So thankfully this aspect of the film did not become a distracting gimmick and was just a part of the story.
The story, you already know, even if you don’t. Person deals with super powers and a sense of identity. Person has to do battle with someone in a personal way. We all move closer to the “final” showdown headed to theaters next month, and Stan Lee (R.I.P) makes an applause worthy cameo. Despite following the formula of pretty much every one of these films, it is different enough and entertaining enough that it’s more than worth the watch. I just wish it was as great as it could have been.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“Captain Marvel is kickass.”
My rating: Four out of five hats