Captain Marvel is the MCU’s highly anticipated first female solo film. Lately, female-led and minority-led films have become more desirable in light of the successes of Wonder Woman (2017) and Black Panther (2018). And, with a huge number of women on staff, the film avoids a lot of trappings that female-led films tend to fall into.
That being said, Disney obviously wasn’t too concerned with that. All of the previews before the movie either had a female or minority lead/storyline, save for Shazam! which opens April 5th. This is a terrible choice as it establishes that the movie is meant for women/minorities rather than “mainstream”. These previews were not what you’ll see before Avengers: Endgame, which opens April 26.
Already there have been concerns with Captain Marvel opening so close to Avengers: Endgame. Last year, Black Panther premiered in February, but Captain Marvel is almost a full month later (Infinity War opened April 27). She’s being hyped as bringing a new level of strength and power to the MCU, but there are concerns she will be overwhelmed by Endgame, even if she is set to play a large part in it. (Not that we’ve seen her in any of the trailers.)
That she brings a new level of strength is not an exaggeration. The movie is different from previous MCU and other superhero origin films, which although refreshing, felt a little slow to me and left me chomping at the bit for baby Fury (who does lose his eye in this movie). Directors/Writers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (with additional writers Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Nicole Perlman, and Meg LeFauve) do some creative storytelling both in writing and visually. The use of CGI is appropriate and well done, especially the de-aging of Clark Gregg and Samuel L. Jackson (with the 1995 setting, I definitely felt some Pulp Fiction (1994) moments).
This movie had me very excited going in and I’m still very excited. Captain Marvel depicts a strong woman as something to be expected, not an exception, and continuously shows her to be more than a match for her male counterparts. Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers has some definite Buffy (1997-2003) moments, approaching almost every fight with a smirk and a witty comment, though she does not have a male romantic lead to distract her. The humor is what you’d expect for MCU, but no less funny, with a soundtrack to rival Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). It’s primarily female artists chosen with a very clear nod to the early 90s.
Without giving too much away, Captain Marvel had some surprising twists and authentically sincere moments. What’s really fun is seeing how/why things are the way they are in the MCU. There are some creative changes to the character’s original backstory, but it works, although there are also some moments and inconsistencies that make you wonder if the original script/cut was different than what’s presented. In addition to seeing 90s Shield (though no appearance from founder Peggy Carter) and getting a closer look at the Kree Empire, Captain Marvel also introduces the alien race, the Skrulls, who are shapeshifters, and slips in a young Monica Rambeau, who also takes up the Captain Marvel mantle in the comics.
Basically, this is a movie you need to see! For many reasons! First, because it was something fun and refreshing. Second, because of the female lead. Third, because of the number of women attached creatively to the project. While DCEU hasn’t been afraid to bring in female directors (and capitalize on female leads), Marvel/Disney still seems wary. While I doubt Captain Marvel will be nominated for Best Picture like Black Panther was (although I could see it in some of the other categories), I think it has the potential to be just as powerful for the industry.
The last thing I want to mention is how important it is to stay for the mid and end credit scenes. Both are relevant to the Infinity War/Endgame plot line and definite must-sees. Also, be prepared for a heartwarming tribute to Stan Lee, who filmed his cameo before his death in November.
This review is written the morning after I saw a “midnight” showing (7 pm on Thursday, thank you– some of us have to be up at 6 am), so I’ve only watched it once, but am eager to see it again. I typically try to watch a creative property multiple times before writing a review, so this is perhaps not as in depth as I might go on specific aspects. Regardless, Captain Marvel does bring something new and different to a well-established universe, both in terms of content and in terms of film as an art.