MOVIE REVIEW – CAPTAIN MARVEL
Ideally, the art of film is storytelling via a visual medium. And telling a story is highly dependent on the tools at hand. What shouldn’t be forgotten is from whom the story comes from – and why. He or she who tells the story does so based on their experience in life and will, undoubtedly, imbue the tale with bits and pieces from their own life. Thus, we arrive at why Captain Marvel is an essential piece in the MCU’s history.
I hadn’t been particularly excited to watch this installment as I didn’t know much about the character. I feared it would end up being like Ant-Man and The Wasp – a highly unnecessary sequel that works better as a Saturday afternoon movie. Nevertheless, I got myself a date and went to watch it at Century Cinemax, Garden City. They have a great offer on Wednesday’s where for 600 bob ($6 for the rest of y’all) you get a ticket, popcorn and soda/water thrown in. The screening was for the IMAX screen which is something I would highly recommend for those who love spectacle.
At its heart, Captain Marvel is a familiar story. A hero (heroine in our case) caught up in a crisis has to revisit her past to find the strength to overcome what lies ahead. You have seen this trope in just about every origin story that Marvel has done. The difference here is, firstly, it has awkwardly been dropped at a somewhat well-known hero at a spot in their timeline. More importantly, it has introduced their first woman-led solo feature – more than ten years after the MCU began. And with that, a whole barrage of emotions accompanied this instalment. We’ll get to that in a bit. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect.
Carol Danvers or Veers (pronounced Vee-az) is an amnesiac, distinguished Kree warrior who has trouble controlling her extraordinary gifts. Her commanding officer, the delightfully charming Yon Rogg (Jude Law) mentors and trains Veers in the art of war and continually reminds her that her emotions are her biggest drawback. While on a mission to recover an informant, she is captured by Skrulls (The Kree’s enemies) but manages to escape and land on planet C53 – good ‘ol Earth in the year 1995.
Here she runs into a digitally de-aged Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson). Together they try piece what happened to her while evading Skrulls and uncovering a much bigger mystery. What works here immediately is the dynamic between Fury and Danvers. Instead of the omniscient, seasoned spy master we are used to, we get to see a younger, relaxed Shield agent who still has both eyes (How he got his infamous eye-patch is rather…unexpected).
Danvers is the one calling the shots this time thrusting Fury into a whole other world, literally and figuratively. Ben Mendelsohn (Talos) also eschews his usual baddie role with surprising poignancy and sharp comedic wit. Rounding up the cast is Danvers’ childhood bestie, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) as well as other familiar faces you’ve seen before like Korath (Djimon Hounsou) and Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). Sadly, their roles are undercooked which is a recurring theme of the film.
Part of Danvers’ fractured flashbacks include scenes with her verbally abusive father which are quickly forgotten. It would have been nice to flesh out this part of the narrative. True to the Marvel playbook though, I suspect it will be explored in the sequel. This strategy unfortunately always seems to rob a good story of its autonomy for the sake of being part of a bigger machine. It really is the bane (hehe) of the MCU.
However, there is plenty of good that Captain Marvell (or Ma*vell*) has to offer. The fear that apparently feminist SJW themes would be jammed down our throats is quickly assuaged. The struggles that Danvers go through are relatable by just about anyone who had to overcome hurdles to get to where they are. And when she does finally come into her own, boy, is it triumphant. The image of her charging at the baddies in the third act to annihilate them did give me goose bumps. It also confirmed just how powerful she is and why Nick Fury SOS’d her at the end of Infinity War.
Captain Marvel is a good film that is entirely consistent with the Marvel aesthetic (for better or worse), but more importantly, it’s a great introduction to Carol Danvers. How we hadn’t gotten a female-led film (despite the badass Black Widow being around too) all this time is puzzling. But Marvel finally did it. It isn’t great, but it does answer some questions that have been floating around ever since Iron Man lit up our screens back in 2008. Also, Goose the cat is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.