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Marvel knows their system, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Captain Marvel is the newest film from the powerhouse franchise, and it happens to be the first to be led by a female hero. While it has many merits to it, there are still the trademark Marvel tropes that keep it from being that extra level of extraordinary that it could have been.
This will be a spoiler review, so I’ll give a brief synopsis. Captain Marvel, or Carol, to use her real name, is a Kree soldier with special proton-blasting powers. She's been under the command of Jude Law’s character. I don’t remember his name, so he’ll just be Jude Law. On a mission to fight the Kree race’s enemy, the Skrull, Carol is captured and manages to escape to Earth. She finds out that she is really a human who was captured by the Kree when an accident gave her the fantastic powers she has, and is actually a human. The Kree are actually the bad guys looking to bring a full on genocide against the Skrull. Carol has to fight her former squad mates to save Earth and the Skrull species.
It’s incredibly more complicated than that. This is part of my issue with the movie. I loved the 90s setting on Earth, and I enjoyed the revelation that the Kree were bad, even if it was a little obvious. I was still a little lost with the energy that gave Carol her powers. It looked like the Kree put a microchip on her neck to hold her back, but told her that the device was actually where the power came from. It was never really explained.
To talk about Carol though, I loved her. Brie Larson rarely disappoints me. She was so fun and always had a presence when she was on screen. Some of my favorite parts were when she discovered how strong she really was and would laugh while she was fighting. I loved watching her explore her power. Another thing was the way they integrated the idea of a women’s strength into her character. Sometimes, it was a bit on the nose. There seemed to be perfect scenarios to show how men put women down. They felt almost staged. They mostly made up for it with how they handled it at the end. When Carol really uncovers her strength, they take all the times when she was told, “No, you can’t do that,” and show her getting up from all of her falls. They don’t have any dialogue over it, but instead show her getting up and staring down whoever told her she wasn’t good enough. The sentiment is important, but I love seeing it instead of having it told to me. I got chills.
Similarly, once Carol destroys the entirety of the Kree attack ships in Earth's orbit, she just flies in front of Ronan, (a fun Easter Egg villain from Guardians of the Galaxy), and gives him a smirk and a head tilt. She brings her fists together and unleashes a blast of light that looked awesome on screen. It's the best, "Come at me, bro" moment ever. Ronan wisely declines the challenge. I like how she didn’t have to say anything to assert herself. She rarely had to speak to show her strength, and I woke up the morning after seeing this movie walking around trying to be like Carol. For me, that counts as a win. Go Brie Larson!
On the subject of speaking, this does bring up a bit of a problem that Marvel heroes tend to have. They’re all snarky and sarcastic. This isn’t a bad thing, but when everyone feels like an extension of Tony Stark, I start to get tired of it. Doctor Strange is Iron Man with magic. Ant Man is mini Iron Man. Falcon and War Machine are also super sarcastic. Even Captain America and Black Widow have gotten more sarcastic as the movies go on. I’m totally over it. The reason Thor and Black Panther stand out to me is that they have a different brand of humor. Thor’s humor comes from his lack of understanding of Earth and overall obliviousness. Black Panther has a no nonsense attitude, so when he says a one liner, it’s hilarious. He isn't quipping all the time. So many Marvel heroes feel the same. Carol isn’t quite as sarcastic. She comes off as pretty genuine most of the time. However, her snarky attitude was present enough that I felt like it wasn’t anything new or exciting.
One thing that was exciting was the supporting cast too. Samuel L. Jackson was wonderful. He has Nick Fury down to a science. He’s serious but funny. The scenes with Goose were hilarious. Who knew Nick Fury was so adorable with cats? To talk about Goose the cat, I think he was the best part for me. I loved that cat! He was so unassuming until he suddenly can sprout tentacles from his mouth and eat anything. It was funny in the moment, and I thought he was the cutest little munchkin
Another favorite character for me was Maria. Maria was awesome because she filled the role that would’ve been given to a love interest. She was the grounding character that brought Carol back to herself and reaffirmed her mission to do the right thing. She was caring and could make a joke. She worked well with all the characters she interacted with, and she was useful in saving the day. I like the friendship shown between her and Carol. It felt real and it showed how important it is to have loyal and kind friends by your side.
Now let me talk about Jude Law, because he fits in to Marvel’s other common problem: the villains. Recently, we’ve had Killmonger and Thanos. They’re dynamic and are already two of the top villains Marvel has put to screen. Law’s character is Yon-Rogg (I finally Googled it), and the potential for him to be great was there. It’s criminal to me because he’s such a great actor. I love him whenever I see him. This role was no exception. He did great with what he was given, but that’s just it. He wasn’t given too much to work with. It chalks up to his muddy motivation. We just know that the Kree want to destroy the Skrull because the latter wouldn’t give in to the Kree’s rule. That’s the basis of the war, but Yon-Rogg can be more complex. At first it seems like he cares about Carol, but then that goes out the window for the most part when we find out he’s the one who abducted her. We never quite know if he genuinely cares for her or if he’s manipulative. He has a moment where he says that he used his blood to transfuse into Carol’s body. The way he said it made it sound like he felt a real connection to her. He never really tries to kill her, but he’s suddenly cold toward her. I would’ve loved to see more of his thoughts. He could’ve been so dimensional if I just knew what motivated him and how he felt toward Carol. However, I will still put him above most Marvel villains with how interesting he was and could have been.
Overall, this was a pretty good movie by craft standards. There were fun camera angles and movements, and great looking special effects. When Carol was flying at the end was what really got me excited. I was practically squirming in my seat because I felt like I wanted to fly. The music was nothing too special in terms of the score. The blast from the past songs from the nineties were awesome. Shout out to "Chasing Waterfalls." They used No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” for one of the final fight scenes and I was living for it. My personal favorite was the credit song choice. They used Hole’s “Celebrity Skin.” When that guitar riff started, I was ready to sing the whole song (and I almost did).
The first post credit scene was also fun. The remaining Avengers post-Thanos-snap found Fury’s pager to call Carol. Carol shows up and asks where Fury is. It’s simple and to the point, but it makes Endgame feel closer than ever. Also it might be the last time we see a bearded Captain America, which makes me want to cry. Keep your beard, Steve!
If there was one thing that got under my skin and wouldn’t leave, it’s that damn Tesseract. Yes, the power that Carol has comes from the pesky blue cube that raises more questions than it answers. To recap, the Tesseract was sunk at the bottom of the ocean after Captain America: The First Avenger before being recovered by SHIELD. Which begs the question, how did the Air Force doctor with no connection to SHIELD get it and hurl it into space? And then we’re supposed to believe Fury has been in possession of it for almost two decades without doing anything with it until the first Thor movie? Then there’s the matter of Fury not knowing basics about how the Tesseract when he’s clearly seen how it powers things in Captain Marvel. Long story short: I hate the Tesseract. It just makes the MCU confusing. These continuity errors annoy me because it shows how much is being made up as they go on. They were lucky Spider-man was integrated as if he was always there. It’s a little different with Carol. Why was the snap the only time Fury paged her? He didn’t page her for Loki? For Ultron? Those qualify as emergencies, and she would’ve ended those battles immediately. For Carol, it doesn’t feel like she’s always been in the MCU.
I had fun watching Captain Marvel. Will I go see it again in theaters? No, but I’ll watch it when it comes out on DVD... Ok, I might see it again if I have people who really want to go with me to see it. It was just enough hype to get us ready for Endgame coming in just over a month. It’ll probably do very well at the box office and with critics. Hopefully Marvel will keep up their good work and keep people interested as the end of an era is right around the corner. Carol Danvers is a great hero to start with.