‘Captain Marvel’ (2019) Movie Review (Spoiler-free)

Amidst troll reviews, Captain Marvel is finally released, garnering somewhat favorable ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic. As Marvel’s first attempt to portray a lead female superhero on-screen, and directly leading to Avenger’s End Game, the movie has a lot of expectations from its audience.

Back in the 90’s

Here’s a brief synopsis of the movie:

Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is caught up in an intergalactic war between the Kree against the sinister Skrulls. She has no memory of her past, and struggles to know her real identity.

With the help of returning and new characters alike, Carol is set on an adventure to uncover the secrets of her past.

Captain Marvel taking place in the past was a good decision for two reasons. First, it makes it easy to introduce Carol in a universe where there are already established superheroes, such as Ant-Man (1980’s) and Captain America (1940’s).

Second, it offers a chance to flesh out and develop the backstory of existing characters like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). In this way, character development is possible without being too disruptive of the established lore.

Newcomer Danvers

Before the release, impressions around Brie Larson’s acting was met with criticism. Particularly in how she presents herself in the titular role. Nevertheless, what was shown in the trailer is not what you think when it comes to the actual release.

Her dedication to the character itself is accurate. However, it sometimes falls flat in certain scenes. In one scene they might tell you how “expressive” she is, only to leave you confused on how you should react.

When it comes to moments where she interacts with other characters, it doesn’t convey much other than telling you “you should feel sad / happy”. This particular criticism is often prominent in other Marvel movies, and are often accompanied by cheesy lines. While humor is part of the movies, they don’t always land.

There are genuine moments, no doubt about it, such as Carol’s relationship dynamic with Fury. Outside of that, moments appear where the dialogue does not fit her outward expression.

Empowerment done right

You would think that because of the concept as a first female superhero protagonist in the big screen, Captain Marvel would have fallen into a cliche for women’s empowerment. Fortunately, it manages to hold its own without beating its audience into submission about feminism.

Captain Marvel is not given praise just because she is literally a powerful woman. She is instead treated just like anyone else: as a person.

Similar to how when you think about Captain America or Iron Man, the first thing you wouldn’t think of is their gender, but rather superheroes who do good for the sake of humanity.

How great it is to see a depiction of a woman in a superhero film that does not resort to emphasizing her gender but her humanity instead, a step toward the right direction for movies to emulate.

CG Eye-candy

Marvel Studios is no stranger when it comes to de-ageing its actors. Actors Michael Douglas and Robert Downey Jr. were made younger, from Ant-Man and Iron Man, respectively.

Perhaps the best thing that stood out was the visual tomfoolery the studio did to recreate Jackson’s younger face. If they weren’t used to the technology before, they probably are now as they definitely nailed the look.

As shown below, his face in the 1995 movie Die Hard 3, is a accurately portrayed by the CGI version of a younger Nick Fury in Captain Marvel.

Samuel L. Jackson face comparison
Die Hard 3 (Left) | Captain Marvel (Right)
Courtesy of Reddit User /u/ponodud

Given that it is set in the 90’s, the set pieces are given importance. You can see music, fashion, architecture, and technology itself shown the way it was before: internet shops are just beginning to pop up, and phone booths are still available.

These details are appreciated to make you believe that these characters are living in the past. It is one of the small parts of Captain Marvel that makes it enjoyable.

Back to the Future

How do you close the gap between a film and the twenty other movies that preceded it? Where was Captain Marvel when you have global catastrophes almost 30 years later? What happened to Nick Fury’s eye? Why does she only appear now?

These questions were in everyone’s mind when the first trailer was released. Suffice to say, Captain Marvel plays it safe in a way that it does not make the timeline confusing, but as a result leads to disappointing outcomes in certain areas. Complicated questions were often answered in too simple of an answer to justify their effect.

I can’t say too much without spoiling the story. Much of the ride is not knowing what is happening as much as Carol does, but the ending ties up any loose ends. While it may not be satisfying, it accomplishes its job at the end of the day.

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