By Michael Carrell
If you were expecting a typical superhero origin story for the debut of Carol Danvers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, prepare to have your expectations subverted. For myself, I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the film going into it. Did I expect a run-of-the-mill origin story? No. Did I expect what I ended up seeing? Definitely not.
Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck did a spectacular job introducing viewers to Captain Marvel. Anna, Ryan, and the rest of the crew behind the film manage to deliver on what I think many would consider the major tent-poles of most Marvel Studios films; high octane action, amazing visuals, and plenty of comedy to go around. Those aspects are all present, which isn’t surprising I mean it’s Marvel Studios it’s pretty much expected by now, but they also deliver a well thought out story with mystery, emotional moments, and empowerment for women. Brie Larson’s character Carol Danvers is continuously told in various ways during the story that she can’t do something because of who she is or because she’s a woman and she proves her doubters wrong at every turn. No lie, I got chills the way certain scenes depicted her getting back up from whatever draw back occurred. The way those scenes were handled and shot were beautifully done.
Speaking of Brie Larson, she delivers. Leading up to the film’s release, it honestly felt like a never ending barrage of people lamenting her acting in the trailers. The common complaints were the lack of emotion she displayed, the lack of smiling, the thought that she was phoning it in, etc. Boy were those folks wrong. Brie effortlessly displays the toughness and the badassery that folks would expect from Carol Danvers while at the same time she’s able to also show a very emotional side to her character during her struggles. She’s a strong female lead that can deliver in any scene, with any co-star. Which she had a pretty strong cast of actors surrounding her with the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Annette Bening, Jude Law, and Ben Mendelsohn to name just a few. Having to share scenes with such a stellar cast could be difficult for a younger star but she holds her own. Plus she nails the comedic timing, firing off quick witty liners back at her costars with ease and displaying the perfect non-verbal looks that help sell the jokes that much more. It’s one thing to say a joke but it’s also about body language and delivery which she gets right most every time.
One performance that honestly caught me off guard a little bit was Ben Mendelsohn’s. I didn’t doubt his acting but I just didn’t think I would love his portrayal of Skrull leader Talos as much as I did. He really steals many of the scenes he’s in. Even through the heavy Skrull makeup he’s able to give that good old Ben Mendelsohn charm and he really seems like he had fun with the role. Another actor who seemed to have fun, Samuel L. Jackson. I think he had a ton of fun giving audiences another side to Nick Fury that we hadn’t seen before. We’ve always seen the character so jaded since he’s been on the scene that it’s really refreshing to get a side of Fury we haven’t seen. It also gives his character more depth by fleshing out some of his backstory. I think audiences will grow to have a greater appreciation for him. Plus the de-aging was done very well, there’s nothing noticeable or out of place about it from what I could tell. The technology continues to get better and better for this type of stuff so expect to see that used more in future films.
Another character de-aged was Clark Gregg’s character Coulson, who returns to the main MCU films for the first time since 2012’s Avengers. The de-aging on him was also done very well and it was really awesome to see him again outside of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but honestly he doesn’t have a ton to do in this film. It’s a little disappointing since we know what he can bring to the table but it’s to a certain extent expected with such a stacked cast. There’s not a lot of time to dish out here and I think Coulson’s character is one who suffers from that. We also see the returns of Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser and Djimon Hounsou’s Korath the Pursuer for the first time since 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s great that both are back as well but I think with them it’s more of a nice MCU lore builder than anything else. They have limited roles here with little to do. Although, Hounsou does have one of the funnier moments of the film.
While I did really enjoy the film’s comedy overall, I do think that some of the comedy falls flat. There’s one joke in particular that happens towards the beginning of act two that really comes off as oddly placed and oddly timed. It honestly took me out of the film for a minute and also I heard Jong say,”that was weird” and well… he’s not wrong. I wouldn’t equate Captain Marvel’s comedy to the level of a Thor: Ragnarok or Guardians of the Galaxy by any means either but it is solid and more on par with one of the Captain America films.
Moving to the setting, the 90’s was such a great choice. It’s pretty cool to revisit old spots like Blockbuster or hear some Nirvana playing in the background. All those design elements really sold the period piece especially for me growing up in the 90’s. The music complements everything very nicely and the music choices were on point for the different scenes whether it was a more quiet scene or a more bombastic action scene. The costume design for the 90’s and all the space adventures are great too. Love how they handle Carol Danvers getting her classic color scheme.
Lastly, the tribute to Stan Lee was so touching and done so well. I can’t wait for everyone to see it because it’s up there for me as one of my favorite moments from watching the film. Oh and I have to mention Goose the cat, can’t forget about Goose! Goose has some of the funniest moments of the film and steals scenes almost as much as Ben Mendelsohn.
I think that’s it for me on this review, I really could keep going because I didn’t even get to Jude Law, Maria Rambeau, Monica Rambeau, or the first depiction of the Kree’s homeworld Hala. There’s just so much to unpack from this film but instead of reading them here check them out on the next issue of Comicast! Both me and Jong will be giving more non-spoiler thoughts on issue 159 of Comicast which should be out later today. Oh and since this is our first non-spoiler review on the site, I’m not sure about a rating system or numbering system of any kind. All I’ll say is go check it out opening weekend or just as soon as you can. This is a film that does a great of appeasing both comic and casual fans alike by knowing how to adapt the source material in an excellent way. I think audiences are going to love it, I know I did.
Higher. Further. Faster.