Captain Marvel, co-written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck is a pretty unremarkable experience. It doesn’t really do anything that’s particularly memorable. The character of Carol Danvers is barely developed and I’m at a loss to find a reason to care about her or be excited about her inclusion in Avengers: Endgame. With Captain Marvel, it’s just a pretty bland, by the numbers Marvel movie that sure… made me laugh a couple of times and there were elements to its plot structure that I liked, but for the most part it’s a fairly forgettable film that I’m struggling to find the enthusiasm to write about. Anyway, let’s dive into the particulars of the movie and see why it didn’t really capture my excitement.
Captain Marvel / Carol Danvers – played by Brie Larson – finds herself crashing to Earth after a covert mission went wrong. Now she must uncover the truth of both her past and the location of the hyperdrive technology that could bring the Kree, Skrull war to an and.
I want to start off by stressing the point – before I fully dive into my review and offer what are primarily negative opinions about the film (guess I’m just another Marvel hater) – Captain Marvel isn’t a bad film. Sure, it isn’t even close to being one of the best – this film would never make it into my top ten, but like the majority of Marvel films, there is still a polish and a quality to it that puts it ahead of most of the competition. I was never bored by this film and it was always making the effort to entertain me… it’s just that when you stand it next to some of the previous stellar offerings from Marvel, it’s just not able to make much of an impact, nor do anything particularity inventive or memorable.
For me, what is this film’s biggest failing is that it doesn’t successfully create an anticipation or excitement within me to see more of this character and it also does a pretty bad job of actually developing her into a character that I could clearly recognise from her well-defined characteristics and emboldened qualities within the larger MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).
When I look at the character that is Carol Danvers in the beginning of the film, and then who she somewhat transforms into by the end, I see no clear arc. There was no overall journey for the character that ever felt like she evolved into a character with depth or a story that goes on to set-up potentially exciting, engaging tales that will grab the attention of audiences going forward. In the beginning, Carol Danvers is another wise-cracking, smirking character who’s always got the perfect witty back-hander to defuse the other persons words and walk away with a smug grin on her face – she’s another Tony Stark, she’s another Peter Quill, she’s another Stephen Strange… the list goes on.
Carol Danvers felt like any other witty-banter fuelled character that now dominate the landscape of the MCU and honestly, I found that pretty disappointing. There was an opportunity to have her standout (seeing as she is one of the most powerful characters we’ve ever come across in the MCU) and what she is in this film is a character we’ve already got too many of – except when the film wants her to be an emotional robot and for some reason has her expressionless dialogue bring a few scenes crashing to a halt. Seriously, the script does some odd things with the character, and I only hope that the Russo’s and the writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely can work their magic and find the true voice and direction of the character (something all four are more than successful at doing at this point).
I hope they do that, because it’s very clear that the team behind this film didn’t really know who they wanted Carol Danvers to be. From one scene to the next, you could get a version of Danvers that was completely different from the last. There was never a consistent through line of who she was and what characteristics defined her. It played a severe [art in making my engagement with her difficult and it also played a part in totally hampering the development of the character.
What also didn’t help the development or handling of Carol Danvers was the structure of the plot she existed within. On the one hand, I appreciated that it didn’t follow the usual Marvel origin formula where we see our main character go from a broken individual with the potential to do, then get caught up in a traumatic event that sees them gaining their powers (and after a training montage) begin to become the hero they were destined to become. Captain Marvel thankfully doesn’t follow that structure, but unfortunately the structure it does construct around Carol Danvers isn’t much better.
You see, because of how the plot plays out and the specific twists it needs to lay the ground work for, Carol Danvers as a character remains mostly stagnant throughout the film. There’s very little meaningful development of the character and by the middle of the third act – usually when the hero is close to understanding who they are and what they’re capable of – Carol Danvers was someone who I didn’t feel I actually knew. At no point in my time watching Captain Marvel did I ever feel like I got a proper glimpse into who Carol Danvers is. She never became a character I was excited to have been on a journey with, and by the end of the film when she’s having her big hero moment, I didn’t feel that everything that had led up to that point had gone into earning those big moments. For me, Carol Danvers was still a mystery, she was still just the witty-remark filled soldier who I was wanting to learn more about, but this time the film was wrapping up and getting ready to roll the credits.
And it’s all because the film from top to bottom just doesn’t do a good enough job at constructing and maintaining a fully realised development of its character or a plot that spurs that development on, while also keeping you invested in the personal struggle of Danvers and the larger story that fuels the film. A story by the way that is pretty predictable and that when the big twist is revealed, is one that any comic book fan would have seen coming and most audiences who’ve seen a film before could see from a few miles away. That doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting when it happens, it’s just that the intense focus the film puts on it and the journey to get to it, is what ultimately damages the rest of the film’s narrative threads.
With Captain Marvel; overall, I found it to be an… okay experience. If you were to ask me what’s the one moment in particular that stands out to me, I would genuinely struggle to pick something, as nothing really ever stood out to me and since seeing the film, most of it has struggled to stick around in my head. The action is pretty forgettable and not very exciting to watch. Visually, the film never has a wow moment – I’ve already more than broke down why the Carol Danvers and the plot did nothing to inspire memories in my head – perhaps the only element of this film I never stopped enjoying was Nick Fury and Samuel L. Jackson’s performance of him.
More than anything, Captain Marvel ends up being the Nick Fury origin film/show. He has the majority of the best lines, he has the funniest scenes and he was always a joy to watch. In fact, it was the buddy-cop like scenes that he had with Carol Danvers that were some of the best. Both the characters and the actors had such a great dynamic and they played off of one another so well. If I were to pick one thing that I know I enjoyed it would be Fury and what he does to elevate what is mostly a bland, forgettable film – so I suppose that would be the one memorable thing I could take from the film.
In the end, Captain Marvel simply exists to set-up a character for a far bigger and far more exciting film. Captain Marvel gives some context for who she is going into Avengers: Endgame – though that context isn’t exactly the most interesting of establishment – and it’s yet another waste of two talented writers/directors who despite their charming and heartfelt films in the past, are unable to make any creative impact on a film where their creative vision is nowhere to be seen. What you have, is a middle tier Marvel films that when people do their rankings in the lead-up to Endgame, probably won’t appear high on their lists.
Here’s the part where I usually recommend or don’t recommend a film, but let’s be honest, this is a Marvel movie. Most people reading this have already seen the film or are planning to see it, thus my recommendation is pointless and ultimately this is just me rambling into the void, but oh well, it’s what I do. So yeah, I hope you enjoyed the film.
If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on Captain Marvel, then may I suggest checking out my podcast – ‘The Meandering Movie Podcast’ – where we did an in-depth review of it. You can find it on iTunes (https://apple.co/2FUkAhU) Soundcloud (https://bit.ly/2S4sMm6) and Castbox (https://bit.ly/2N7Z6zA). Thanks for stopping by and reading my review, it really means a lot to me! I hope to see you return and I hope you enjoy the podcast (I’m really proud of it). Thank you one more time and have a wonderful day!