Since production began on Marvel’s first female-led superhero film, there have been agonising comments over whether the film would succeed or fail. Not unlike the murmurs when DC announced Wonder Woman. After watching the film, there’s no agenda that it is trying to push that no other superhero film has done before, which makes it somewhat unoriginal. Captain Marvel as a character fails to connect thanks in large part to a weak opening act, introducing her as a bland character and its not until she arrives on Earth, that the film really starts to become more enjoyable.
Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is introduced in a moment of combat with her training partner played by Jude Law, as they exchange exposition and witty banter, dropping audience right in the middle of things, which proves a little disorientating and does the characters no favours. Captain Marvel’s alter ego Carol Danvers has joined the ‘Star Force’ working with the inhabitants of planet Kree's war against the shapeshifting alien race – the Skrulls. Matter are complicated fruther once the Skrulls capture Carol and attempt to scan her memories, uncovering a hidden past life she had on Earth.
Once Carol lands on Earth in the 1990s (through a Blockbuster store) she meets Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), in the first of many throwbacks to the first phase of the Avengers films. It’s a wide-reaching reunion film of sorts, including Ronan the Accuser and the Tesseract, providing the film with more depth and history. Of course the breakout star is the cat Goose, named after the character Nick “Goose” Bradshaw from Top Gun.
The Top Gun reference becomes clearer as it is revealed that Carol was a pilot on Earth, working with a prototype engine, which is what the Skrull are after. As her mission and personal life become more intertwined the stakes are raised, offering further interesting twists and turns. Ben Mendelsohn puts in a great performance as the Skrull leader Talos, underneath layers of green prosthetics is an expressive and relatable character. Samuel L Jackson also seemingly enjoying the ride; the obvious chemistry with him Larson authenticates their relationship,
The comedy in the film is mostly effective, specifically jokes centered around the 90s, but not all of the successfully landing, mis-matching the tone of the film as it moves towards its climax. While the action is entertaining, the smaller physical fights are far more engaging than the scenes where Captain Marvel blows things up with her energy blasts. Watching it in an IMAX theatre, brings the action to life, with the brighter visuals and razor sharp imagery, especially the special effects heavy scenes, such as a de-aged Samuel L Jackson is incredibly convincing, the cgi processing is completely unnoticeable.
Captain Marvel goes to great lengths to honour the comic books its based on, as well as tie itself to the expanded universe however the film ends up weaker than the sum of its parts. Individually, the references to previous Marvel movies are great, but together the film fails to gel until the second act. The first act seeks to confuse audiences about Carol's situation as much she is, but in doing so results in making her more difficult to understand and connect with. Setting up Avengers: End Game, Captain Marvel feels like a pit-stop before the main event.
Captain Marvel is out now.
Words by Sunny Ramgolam @SunnyRamgolam.
Follow Candid Magazine on Instagram here.