"Captain Marvel" Review

I can’t think of another movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that is releasing with both high anticipation and with hyperbolic controversy like Captain Marvel. But this is what happens when you promote your movie as part of a “feminist movement” and you have people misconstrue actress Brie Larson’s criticism towards a male dominated press junket. But amidst all the controversies casting a pall on the release of this movie, how is the movie itself?

Captain Marvel is a traditional origin story in the mold of the Phase 1 slate of the MCU. Taking a few cues from the original Iron Man and the original Thor, Captain Marvel is a surprisingly lean, low key affair despite its mostly intergalactic background. After a third slate of movies in the MCU that have seen Marvel Studios experiment a little bit with the way they have done their movies, it is both refreshing and a little jarring seeing a movie follow on the old mold from almost a decade ago. If anything, the big selling point of the film is that this is the first film headlined by a female protagonist, and for the most part it succeeds on that front, even though there’s something else I believe it’s a bigger selling point for longtime MCU fans.

Trust me. She definitely has more expressions than this one.

Controversies aside from this being a “feminist movement” statement, Captain Marvel is carried through with aplomb by a very charismatic performance by Brie Larson. Larson’s character Carol Danvers may have seem wooden and aloof in the marketing materials (specially the jokes of her perpetual RBF), but the movie gives her plenty of range to show sympathy, empathy, sarcasm and a mostly commanding screen presence. These elements come alive once the movie hits the Earth setting, and despite a few rough spots here and there, Carol Danvers proves she can stand on her own against the MCU’s more established personalities; an exciting proposition to see play out in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.

Despite Larson headlining the main event, Captain Marvel’s supporting cast also impresses. Captain Marvel is probably one of the better showcases for Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. Playing a less hard-edged version of his character, Nick Fury on this film is one of the best sources of humor (specially the SLJ kind), and learning some of his agent and family backstory (as well as what leads to him getting the eye patch) can be a treat to longtime MCU fans.

The Carol Danvers/Nick Fury duo provides the film's most effective gags.

If anything, probably the biggest selling point of Captain Marvel is how it can successfully play on the MCU’s history and provide longtime fans with a tinge of nostalgia with some of the things referenced and showcased here (coupled with 90’s nostalgia for some of us 90’s kids). Nick Fury’s background notwithstanding, it was a special treat getting to see a younger version of Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson again in an official MCU movie, even in a limited capacity. Yes, Agent Coulson has still played an extensive part in Marvel’s Agents of Shield for the last couple of years after his “death” in the original Avengers, but for the people that were not aware or didn’t watch the show, this is Coulson’s first movie appearance since 2012, which can tug the nostalgia heartstrings.

Nice to see you again Coulson.

Less effective but still of note is the appearance of Lee Pace’s Kree overlord Ronan the Accuser from the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. Even though he was the weakest link in the first Guardians film, Captain Marvel at least provides him with with some much needed context to make him a more fully realized character in the context of the universe; especially as the Kree/Skrull war potentially provides the backdrop for future sequels to this film. If anything, knowing who ends up being the main antagonist of this film, Jude Law’s Yon-Rogg, is one of Ronan’s main agents, just adds an extra dimension to the movie. Not to mention even minor appearance of someone like Djimon Hounsou’s Korath from the beginning of the first Guardians film just underlines what a great job the MCU has done at organic universe world building.

The Skrull/Kree war is the best addition to the MCU mythos from this film.

Nostalgia heart tugging can only get you so far if the movie itself isn’t up to snuff. While a good movie for the most part, a couple nagging points keeps Captain Marvel from rising above just being a middle-of-the-road MCU film. The pacing at times can be erratic in how quickly it blasts through some exposition, only for the pacing to then slide down to a slog in a couple key moments. While humor has always been an established MCU staple these days (and boy is it effective once Goose the cat comes into play), there are a couple of moments that tend to undercut the weight and gravitas of some scenes. While the MCU has had a better villain run with the last couple movies than its done in the past, Captain Marvel succeeds more in subverting who you think the villain is, rather than making the real villain someone that truly stands out. Ultimately, the more lowkey nature of the film and its release placement ensures that Captain Marvel plays more like a filler origin story that sets up her appearance in Avengers: Endgame in a way you could have inferred just by the post-credit scene of Avengers: Infinity War.

Prepare to fall in love with Goose. "Hey kitty, kitty!"

The MCU has had a pretty solid, consistent run for a long time now and I’d even argue they haven’t had a real stinker since they came close with Thor: The Dark World back in 2013. It is unfortunate the controversy surrounding the release of Captain Marvel will make many to want to paint this as a complete failure, when the reality is that it is a good movie in its own right. It’s definitely an important lesson on how not to alienate your audience prior to release, because it overshadows the fact that, while being a female-led movie, it’s not shoving down agendas like some of the remarks may make you believe. Definitely not in the top tier of the MCU, but not in the lower tier either. If you have been a fan of these movies before, the references to the past will be enough for you to have a good time.

Good thing there is still one in Oregon.


Written by Alejandro Segovia.

All opinions expressed are exclusive to the writer and do not represent the entirety of Stat X Media.

Pictures taken from the film's IMDB site.

Movie Scoring rubric:

★ : 1 point  ☆ : 0.5 points

★★★★★: Essential. Excellent movies. Close to flawless. Transcends any minor flaws it may have. 
   ★★★★: Great/Highly recommended. Great movies. Some flaws worth mentioning, but nothing to worry about.
      ★★★: Okay/Recommended. Good movies. Contains things worth watching & experiencing, but flaws can hinder the experience.
         ★★: Caution/Questionable. Mediocre movies. The flaws start to significantly hinder anything good the movie has.
             ★: Avoid. Bad movies with nothing redeemable about them (some enjoyment as "so bad its good). Preferably don't waste your time.


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