Film Review: Captain Marvel

Well Marvel have finally gone and done it – they’ve made a movie where the main character is a female superhero. It has been funny to sit back and listen to the words coming out of Hollywood as people act like it has never been done before. It seems like characters like Buffy, Lara Croft, Evelyn Salt and even Wonder Woman have been completely forgotten about. Then you have the naysayers who have the movie failing before it even opens (or before they have even had a chance to watch it). Let’s just sit back for a moment and forget those two arguments and let’s look at Captain Marvel objectively and for what it really is – a superhero movie.

As it turns out Captain Marvel is pretty much two origins stories in one. On one hand you have a Star Force member named Vers (Brie Larson – Room, Kong: Skull Island) who has been trained by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law – The Grand Budapest Hotel, Closer) to become a ferocious warrior in their battle against the Skrulls. When an incident occurs though she finds out that her identity might not be what she thinks it is and soon finds herself on Earth trying to piece together who she is while the military come after this brand new visitor from space.

At the same time we see Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson – Pulp Fiction, The Hateful Eight) a former spy turned S.H.I.E.L.D Agent who is sent to investigate this ‘space creature.’ After realising that Vers (who is really Carol Danvers) is actually trying to protect Earth he decides to go against the wishes of his boss, Keller (Ben Mendelsohn – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Ready Player One), and help Carol piece together her life.

In a way Captain Marvel is to the Marvel universe what Rogue One is to the Star Wars universe – yes it ties into the general Thanos storyline but when it comes to tone and characterisation it is vastly different to the other movies we have recently seen. The tone of Captain Marvel is so far different to that awful comedy we see in Thor: Rangnarok that they could literally be from different planets. Carol is not a flashy super-hero like Iron-Man nor does she show her toughness off to the world like Thor. In some ways she is reserved and very confused young woman searching for her identity while her belief of the world around her is turned completely upside that, and like any good Oscar-winning actress that is how Brie Larson plays the role. While some might be disappointed that her character is that way it certainly enhances the more thought-provoking side of the film.

As a screenwriting/directing team Anna Boden/Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Sugar) are smart enough filmmakers to know  when to shift the tone of this movie. The film ranges from moments of true suspense and drama while some comedy seems in from time-to-time revolving around Goose the very special cat. The comedy is up-and-down, at times it works and at other times it feels like a bit of a cop-out as a way to end a scene. As a film Captain Marvel works better when it comes down to its action sequences – there are some good hand-to-hand fight sequences (including a belter between Jackson and Mendelsohn) and thankfully there is no great, big Earth threatening action sequence with cities exploding – that has been done to death by Marvel over the years.

In a lot of ways the tone and locations of Captain Marvel mirror that of Green Lantern and I don’t mean that as a bad thing. For me Green Lantern is one of the most under-rated comic-book movies of all time. The complex story and sophisticated characters did scare off the average popcorn eating cinema patron but at the same time it was embraced by serious comic book lovers. In time it is easy to see that the same will happen to Captain Marvel.

As previously mentioned Brie Larson brings her normal intense style of acting to the role and more than handles herself when it comes to the action sequences. The result is a performance where she is able to bring her dramatic A-Game to the fore with some of the more touching scenes involving her identity discovery while going toe-to-toe with her action sequences alongside people such as Jude Law. She is well supported by the likes of Ben Mendelsohn (who I can’t mention why his performance is so unique given it would give away a spoiler), Samuel L. Jackson who brilliantly plays a version of himself thirty years in the past and Jude Law who once again shows why he is one of the most underrated actors who needs Hollywood to sit up and take notice of him once more.

Captain Marvel doesn’t sit nice and tightly in the Marvel mould. Its use of more intense drama, smaller-yet-noneless-impressive action sequences and bold use of visions and flashbacks is very foreign to what we have come to expect from Marvel and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While the lack of Earth-shattering explosions and flashy characters may disappoint some this film may well show audiences that it is okay to have a thought-provoking superhero movie that makes good use of its soundtrack and puts extra pressure on the performances of its actors outside of stunts. This is a quality comic book movie that seems to be pushing new boundaries for Marvel.

Written by Dave Griffiths

Dave has worked as a music & film journalist for over 20 years now. Aside from Heavy he does radio and various podcasts as well. He is the proud owner of Metal Cat.

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