Disclaimer: The following review has spoilers
Captain Marvel is the most recent film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Captain Marvel was directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and produced by Kevin Feige, who oversees the continuity of the entire MCU.
At as the movie opens, the audience is introduced to a character named “Vers,” a warrior for the alien race known as the Kree. She is captured by the enemy race, the Skrulls, but escapes to Earth, landing in the year 1995. There, she meets a two-eyed Nick Fury, and learns that she was once a human pilot for the United States Air Force named Carol Danvers, and that she gained her unusual powers in a plane crash. She also learns that she had been fighting on the wrong side of the war, and turns on the Kree to give assistance to the Skrulls.
The film was released amid controversy surrounding its star, Brie Larson, who plays the titular character (though the name “Captain Marvel” is never actually given to the character Carol Danvers during the film). The outspoken women’s-rights activist claimed that Captain Marvel was going to be a “big feminist movie,” which upset a good portion of its potential audience, especially many devout Marvel fans. Before it was even released, the film received a tidal wave of negative reviews on the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, causing the site to consider changing its audience review process to ensure credibility.
This situation spurred uncertainty that the film would live up to Marvel movie expectation. However, this film succeeded in putting most of these fears to rest. There is no doubt that this film will be enjoyed by the general public. The average viewer will see it as nothing more than a cool superhero origin story.
However, those who are heavily invested in the MCU won’t have their expectations blown out of the water. Though Captain Marvel is an enjoyable movie, it doesn’t do anything new. It serves to introduce a character that will be important later, but the stakes were generally low. The movie feels like those released during the MCU’s “phase one”, when all the familiar players were introduced in their own smaller-scale solo films.
This doesn’t make Captain Marvel a bad movie. It simply means that it was burdened with some unreasonably high and wildly varied expectations from diehard Marvel fans that it just could not meet.
If it weren’t held to such high scrutiny, this film would easily be seen as simply fun and enjoyable. Carol Danvers is a solid character and the plot is interesting. There were plenty of moments of genuine emotion and comedy. The film kept a very good pace, keeping the audience interested and attentive throughout. Though the computer-generated animation wasn’t perfect, the imagery was often stunning and colorful, which is a refreshing change from other recent MCU films.
There was fear that the film would be overly focused on feminist messages. The marketing of the film only served to confirm this, as it threw around language suggesting the bravery and physical strength of the character, which perpetuated this fear. Somewhat surprisingly, this was not very pervasive. Danvers is undoubtedly the strongest and most intelligent character in the film. Aside from some snide comments directed towards her by men in her flashbacks, Danvers doesn’t seem to face any obstacles out of mere virtue of being a woman. She is told several times to control her emotions, but the same has been said to many MCU protagonists before her, as lack of emotional control has proven to be a weakness in these films.
These messages can and should be overlooked, as it is important to appreciate a movie for what it accomplishes beyond them. Though it isn’t outstanding within the highly acclaimed MCU, Captain Marvel is a solidly enjoyable film, and might even seem great–without comparison to its predecessors.