Captain Marvel is built for one particular demographic, people who don’t know the Marvel source material. If you fall into this group, and know nothing about Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, and only have a passing interest in the MCU movies, then this film is right up your alley.
However, if you happen to fall into the other camp, people who know the original source material, or love the 20 movies that comprise the MCU, then you might leave the theater with a bad taste in your mouth, or, at the very least, shaking your head, wondering how Marvel Studios got it so wrong.
To briefly recap and keeping the spoilers down to minimum.
Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is assigned to a mission for Starforce, an elite group of space bad-asses like the Green Lantern Corp in DCEU. Captain Marvel and her fellow Starforce buddies are tasked with helping to rescue a Kree spy, who has infiltrated a group of Skrulls (shape-shifting aliens), the Kree’s sworn enemy. However, the mission doesn’t go as planned, resulting in her crashing an escape pod on Earth in the 1990’s, which immediately gets the attention of SHIELD agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).The two team up and fun, mayhem and product placements (90’s pop songs like Just A Girl by No Doubt) ensue.
Considering that Marvel Studios has twenty plus movies under its belt, one would think that a movie like Captain Marvel would be polished and ambitious, but sadly that is not the case. Despite its huge budget and extravagant action set pieces, Captain Marvel feels like a MCU phase one movie, i.e., Ironman, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger. The 2 hour plus movie is an uninspired origin story that doesn’t break any new ground, and suffers from a fair amount of glaring plot holes that contradict established events in previous MCU movies.
Moreover, like most phase one movies, Captain Marvel suffers from uneven tonal shifts, pacing issues and poorly written and underdeveloped characters. However, unlike past entries in the MCU, Captain Marvel manages to introduce a villain into the narrative, Talos (Ben Menedelsohn), the leader of the Skrulls, that is both, more interesting and relatable than any other character in the movie. Unfortunately, the character of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel is bland, boring and very uninteresting.
Unlike Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Zoe Saldana, etc, Brie Larson has no gravitas and comes across as a stiff and unlikeable character in her own origin story. She spends most of the movie walking around, fist clenched, beating bad guys down, and blowing things up, but her character is strictly a one dimensional superhero trope that isn’t developed in any meaningful way. Oscar statuette not withstanding, Brie Larson is clearly not the right actor for the role, and no amount of 90’s pop songs accompanying expensive action scenes can't hide that fact.
Last but certainly not least, Brie Larson has boldly proclaimed that Captain Marvel is an unabashed feminist movie, and truth be told … she is telling the truth in all its shiny, and CGI glory.
In the movie, Carol Danvers is constantly being held back by men who tell her she is not good enough, strong enough, capable enough, etc. Girl empowerment is front and center throughout the movie, and it becomes rather annoying and distracting from start to finish.
Obviously, Kevin Feige (President of Marvel Studios) thought it would be a good idea to embrace and endorse a “wokeness” agenda rather than just deliver a good piece of cinematic entertainment. It doesn’t happen too often but even Marvel Studios goes off the reservation and gets it wrong. Captain Marvel, the first MCU movie of 2019, is essentially Marvel Studios answer to the DCEU Wonder Woman movie (2017).
And for the most part, Captain Marvel gets everything wrong that Wonder Woman got right. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was strong and powerful, and yet she was a character that was flawed, and vulnerable. By journeys end, she accepted some hard truths about humanity, good vs. evil, the futility of war and overcame them. In other words, she had a story arch.
Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel has a case of amnesia, and ultimately recovers her memories, but she doesn’t overcome any real human failings or weakness, she doesn’t learn anything other than she is a major bad-ass and not much else. Unlike, Ironman, Captain America, or Thor, her character is completely devoid of growth and remains unlikeable throughout the story.
With the exception of a terrible third act, Wonder Woman was a good DCEU movie that anyone could easily enjoy multiple times. Captain Marvel on the other hand, is a feminist movie looking for a cause, it’s a MCU movie that should be so much bigger and better than Wonder Woman … but its not.