The success the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had cannot be understated; from its seemingly ignoble beginnings in 2008’s Iron Man to this year’s conclusive Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios introduced, honed and perfected the concept of a cinematic universe while breaking several box office records along the way. Not every entry in its (as of this writing) 22-film discography is a treasured, acclaimed one, but the series’ third phase — it’s current one — has consistently produced entertaining films like Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War. It is this high benchmark that in part make this year’s Captain Marvel a disappointment.  


Captain Marvel, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, is a respectably entertaining if flawed origin story starring Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, whose birth name is Carol Danvers. We, however, first meet her as Vers, an amnesiac Kree soldier under the charge of commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). The Kree are engaged in an intergalactic war against the shapeshifting Skrulls. Carol is inadvertently sent to Earth, where she gradually learns of her former life there and discovers she’s unwittingly been fighting for the villains. Captain Marvel is a prequel set in the 90s, that era’s iconography is highlighted and used as a frequent source of jokes.

While the heroine unfortunately couldn’t attain the heights reached by the MCU’s best movies, it does channel the quality seen in its first phase’s output. Yon-Rogg bears a middling presence throughout the film, largely because his relationship with Carol is inadequately explored. Likewise, Carol discovering the Kree she fought alongside and considered friends were using her should’ve been a momentously devastating event, and it’s something she overcomes in a three-minute scene. Yon-Rogg and the Kree’s Supreme Intelligence (Annette Bening) frequently informed Carol how emotional is, telling her it’s a flaw to overcome. However, the film betrays this; this alleged weakness only exists in exposited dialogue and the few times Carol does exhibit sadness or anger are for wholly valid reasons. Carol’s journey to discover and overcome herself is a fascinating one on paper (and the Blu-ray’s meaty special features emphasized this as a core conceit to the film), so it’s a disappointment how shallowly it was handled.

Nevertheless, Larson gave an excellent performance with the material given, with her rapport with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) being the movie’s strongest scenes. Lashana Lynch also gives a strong, emotional performance as Maria Rambeau, one of Carol’s former colleagues and best friend. All three elevated the film considerably, and I will be there to see any further adventures their characters find themselves in.

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