🎟 🍿 SPOILER-FREE IMPRESSIONS of™ - CAPTAIN MARVEL!
• Directed by Anna Boden, and Ryan Fleck
Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, and Jude Law.
Okay... After all the hype, the trailers, and the ultra-silly online fussing, it was time to see the actual FILM, and take it on its own merits. All the negative buzz doesn't look to be hurting the opening weekend box office too much. Where things go from here we shall soon see.
I enjoyed it. I also think it could have been a lot better, considering the Marvel movie pedigree. True, not all of the entries have been homeruns, and I rank this one as a solid double. A double seems apropos since the directing team is yet another duo. However, this tandem is not in the same league as the Russo Bros.... yet.
As most folks know, I tend to call 'em like I see 'em, to extend the baseball analogy. I grew up loving the male version of the Captain Mar-Vell character as illustrated most notably by artists Jim Starlin, Gil Kane, and Allen Milgrom. But as much as I might have wished to instead see that version up on the big screen, I never insisted on it to the point of even entertaining the notion of skipping this film simply because they decided to go with the Carol Danvers version. I mean, really? Someone astutely pointed out that if the version of Captain Marvel that so many fans were whining for had been supported back in the day, the successful sales of that comic book would have kept it afloat. Instead, Marvel wound up trying different iterations, male, to female, to black female, all to inevitable failure. So, where were those fans then that they should rightfully make demands now? The fact that Marvel/Disney is bold enough to take a chance on a third-string character that failed repeatedly back in the day is nothing if not to their credit. So, kudos to them. And, to the whiners? Suck it up, and just go have a good time. Personally, I can't conceive of an all-out war with Thanos on the big screen without some version of Captain Marvel involved. And here she is at last. In the interest of opening up the playing field to more female characters, and more characters of color, I can embrace a dose of inclusion under the right conditions. This may not be the ideal, but I'm cool with it. And I definitely don't feel threatened by a powerful female character given the spotlight. The genre could use more diversity in order to reflect this modern era, and less of the era in which most of these superheroes were created. If it's done well, then all the better.
I think the script needed some tweaks. The bulk of what we get here consists of an array of clichés and tropes which cannot surprise. It's a better Green Lantern story, but that's not saying much. They do offer a nice twist in the third act, and everything manages to fit snugly into the established MCU. I appreciated the sensitive heart at the center of this story, and it's there that we get to see Larson step up her game in glimpses. But for the most part, she is required to rein it in, largely because of her character's clouded past, the struggle of a woman in a very macho corner of a man's world, as well as her role as a soldier in an extraterrestrial military. All of these factors serve to make the actor's performance a bit cold, wooden. But I can forgive this on her first outing, as she works to find and grow into the character. Gal Gadot possesses an inherent innocence which enhances her charm, and which meshed so well with the innocence of her Wonder Woman character. Brie Larson, on the other hand, appears to be a mix of sardonic sass, peppered with a no-nonsense attitude. She can still be playful, and she has a quick laugh, but she's been around the block a few times, so to speak. No, she isn't as dour as some have pegged her based on the trailers. She's NOT. Indeed, there are splashes of humor present, as is typical of these movies. Those gags that are derived naturally are what I prefer, the "fish out of water" stuff. But, of course, they couldn't resist going for too much, in my opinion. I also don't like the lack of scope and impact, where such incredible occurrences fail to register on the world around, as if no one else noticed, or as if they somehow entered MEN IN BLACK territory and forgot to tell us.
Mendelsohn has some very good moments. Jackson is-- well-- Jackson. I like that Lee Pace and Djimon Hounsou are present to lend some valuable continuity. Bening shines-- literally. Akira Akbar is a delight as young Monica Rambeau. Yes, there are Easter eggs aplenty scattered throughout this film. The tribute to the late Stan Lee is appropriately touching. My audience applauded enthusiastically. Rest in peace, Stan "The Man."
So, going forward, this movie nicely dovetails into AVENGERS: ENDGAME right down to the modified pager used by Nick Fury. Based on this adventure's climax, Captain Marvel does justify Fury's faith in her. While several questions go unanswered as to how exactly Captain Marvel managed to become who she is, and even more, how she became the powerhouse she is by the end of the movie, she is definitely one formidable beast. Larson mastered her superhero stance, and her super slow-mo power strut for sure. I'm not crystal clear on what power level she belongs, but I'd place her well above Iron Man, and perhaps in the vicinity of Thor. Yeah, this woman's a bad-ass.
And so, though this movie is a bit wobbly, I still see it as a welcome addition to the Marvel Movie Freight Train. Mediocre, but an entertaining interlude between the Avengers epic two-parter. By the way, stay seated for key middle and post-credits fun. But you all should know that by now.
And, as always, Your Mileage May Vary!