Captain Marvel reports for duty in the first female-led flick in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Widow might be a little choked that she didn't get the call after all she's been through for the team, but Brie Larson delivers a super strong character for everyone to enjoy… she just might be a little too strong.
Carol Danvers, aka “Captain Marvel," has some big boots to fill. Not because Captain Marvel is a particularly beloved entry in the Marvel pantheon, but because she has to fit in instantly with the current roster of huge personalities occupying the Avengers. A big part of this movie for the audience is just seeing if Brie Larson’s character is going to work in that regard and for me, I think it's a success.
She gets to try her first on screen run with Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, one of the more midsized personalities in the MCU. Seeing the two in a buddy cop relationship is a lot of fun and they have great chemistry together, even if they do get a bit upstaged by a cat in the second act. The two actors have worked together a couple times before and seeing them talk about it in interviews they seem to really enjoy one another on and off the screen, which shows for sure.
Brie Larson is as good as any of the MCU's other leads at giving you a little humour, a little coolness, a little drama and a little action. The one main problem I have with the movie comes with that last bit, though. The action is super fun to watch, as she effortlessly flies around all cool blowing up all the bad guys, but given she can just dispose of them with a point of her hands it causes a dramatic issue.
Now, you could reasonably say the same thing about Iron Man, but the issue comes with the huge step up in the MCU arms race that Carol Danvers embodies. She's just SO strong. Whereas Tony Stark can blow up a tank with a smug grin, he still struggles with the big baddies of the MCU. Captain Marvel doesn't just blow up tanks, she blows up fleets of alien ships. It might tip the power balance going forward in a way that makes true drama and stakes hard to find again in a post-Captain Marvel MCU.
I hope the folks in charge have a plan to deal with this narrative issue but in this movie they didn't seem to worry about it. Given they take the story back to the 90s (set to a radical 90s soundtrack!) and we know everyone's fates long before the credits roll, they don't really worry about any of the “our hero might fail” drama of previous origin stories. They just straight up showcase how incredibly powerful Captain Marvel is. It's very entertaining and tells the origin tale in a winding fashion to keep it engaging, but the hero's success is never in doubt at any point. She flies through her first adventure with barely a scratch.
It’s a bit of a shame to see them tell a story almost devoid of danger after finding a way to give the MCU big stakes in Infinity War, but it almost feels like Marvel Studios might be trying to give fans a false sense of security heading into Endgame…
Luckily we won't have to wait long to see how Captain Marvel fits into the grander scheme of things, as this movie serves as a bit of an appetizer for the big show; Avengers: Endgame which debuts less than two months from now.
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