Looks like we’re back on the MCU train. 2018 might have been the most successful year for Marvel, Black Panther received a best picture nomination, Infinity War broke all sorts of box office records and Ant Ma… well, two out of three isn’t bad. But this is 2019, new year, new possibilities. With Avengers: Endgame right around the corner, Marvel is on a mission to tie up any loose ends and introduce the new characters before the release of Avengers: Endgame. Captain Marvel is first on the pedestal and while the film acknowledges early on that this is taking the fun route, the fun itself is created using very old MCU techniques.
Starting with what makes Captain Marvel a fun time is that the visual effects are fantastic, they’re some of the best I’ve seen in an MCU film, even when they’re used for ridiculous sequences. While the kaleidoscope of colour isn’t quite as vibrant as previous films, it still retains that visual awesomeness, especially during the action scenes. But it is when very little action is taking place where the effects shine the brightest, the first example being when Captain Marvel powers up like she’s a Super Saiyan. The powers have this mix of flowing energy and Bunsen burner flame which sounds interesting just with words, but when you see it for yourselves it’s something to behold. Secondly, and easily the most impressive is the unnoticeable way of making a younger Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson). I was completely convinced that what I saw was a young Samuel L Jackson, I wasn’t asking questions or trying to pick apart where it dipped in quality, from the moment the character enters the film, it just works.
In the performance department, there wasn’t a particular performance that you could heavily criticize. Brie Larson who is a talented actress is great. Just from her performance, you can tell that she is eager to fill this role and in scenes with Nick Fury, Captain Marvel becomes this amalgamation of superhero and buddy film, which is a refreshing perspective from other MCU films. Samuel L Jackson needs nothing said about his role as Nick Fury, he just owns it. A big surprise is a performance from Ben Mendelsohn as the shapeshifting Skrull Talos, especially later on in the film when his character becomes more important to the story.
Let’s also address the 90’s nostalgia that is in an abundance in Captain Marvel. Normally I’m quite critical when a film uses nostalgic references, I find it a cheap way of connecting with the audience and most of the time, these focused reveals have no narrative value to them. However, I’ll admit that at least we’ve moved on from the tidal wave of 80’s nostalgia and the film does work the 90’s nostalgia into its comedy. There’s a great scene in which the characters need to listen to an audio file from an integral plot point of the film, but the computer is taking forever to load. Now, this is a great use of 90’s nostalgia, addressing and poking fun at a common occurrence in said era, whilst also solving one of the mysteries of the narrative. However, Captain Marvel crash landing in a Blockbuster store is just nostalgia for the sake of having nostalgia.
When you look back into the past 11 years of MCU films, especially in their directors, you can see a lot of nurtured talent that have come from these film, each bringing their presentation of filmmaking to benefit their respective superheroes, Ryan Coogler brought his urban style to Black Panther, James Gunn did comedic wonders with Guardians of the Galaxy & Taika Watiti revitalized Thor: Ragnarök with great vibrancy. But I find there is a struggle of who get the reigns, the director or the franchise, and unfortunately, I don’t think directors Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck were expressing their filmmaking skills as much as they could have done. It’s another example of unfortunate indie directors on the leash of a big franchise film.
Creatively, on the whole, it feels uninspiring. There’s no push to creating something memorable in the long run which is a real shame. The action scenes whilst visually stunning, they’re not going to be remembered as being out there. The Kree-Skrull War which is a big part of the narrative is introduced to us as though we’re supposed to have seen this before. It may have been briefly mentioned before in the MCU but the key word there is briefly, the context offered to this war is wafer thin and felt very underwhelming due to lack of buildup, it rushed into it hoping that fans will have read the comics or online articles beforehand.
I’m trying to avoid the recent controversy this film has caused because regardless of whether I initially like or dislike the film for whatever reasons, I always walk into a cinema theatre rooting for the film to be good. Honesty is a precious thing and in my honest opinion, I think people are going to be at least entertained by Captain Marvel. You have all round decent performances & spectacular CGI work with an emphasis on de-ageing Samuel L Jackson. It’s just lacking in creativeness with little to make it stand out from the rest of the MCU.
Final Result: 5/10 – Average
Have you seen Captain Marvel? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Triple Frontier