Brie Larson leads the entertaining, if familiar, ’90s-set superhero flick
March 11, 2019
The end of “Avengers: Infinity War” was a downer and, to some, quite a shock. I heard of audience members staring in disbelief at the screen well past the credits. Tears streamed down viewers’ faces when Peter Parker reached and said, “Mr. Stark…I don’t feel so good.” But we were left with one glimmer of hope. Well, one glimmer if you don’t count the several announced films we knew were coming out. Anyway, that one glimmer was simply a symbol on a pager left by Nick Fury. Now, “Captain Marvel” has arrived to set up the hero that Fury trusts with saving the universe. It’s not quite as memorable as “Infinity War” or a handful of other Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but it still delivers an entertaining origin story and the perfect appetizer before the delicious main course that “Avengers: Endgame” will hopefully be.
Vers (Brie Larson) is a Kree soldier who is trying to help her race finally destroy the Skrull menace that constantly threatens to destroy them. While out on a mission, Skrulls ambush Vers and her soldiers. Vers gets split off from the group and crash lands on Earth in the year “the ’90s” along with a handful of Skrull. Her path to purge Skrulls from Earth, with the help of one Nicholas Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), leads her on a major journey of self-discovery. She unearths secrets about her identity, her past and the Kree on her way to unlocking her full potential and ending the war between Kree and Skrull.
The movie takes on a sort of buddy cop movie feel as Fury and Vers traverse across America. The two have solid on-screen chemistry, helping to bring that trademark Marvel Cinematic Universe humor. Vers comes in with the cocky, quip-heavy attitude, and though they aren’t the best quips out there, they usually get the job done. The younger Fury is a little less grizzled than his older self and often shines in moments when the lighter side of him pops out, especially in interactions with Goose the cat. I’m not joking when I say Goose is a pivotal character in the story, not just in terms of the plot, but also in delivering many of the biggest laughs. We also get the final Stan Lee cameo.
However, in the way “Thor: Ragnorock” felt a little extra funny because it had a different style of humor than other Marvel Cinematic Universe films, “Captain Marvel” seems much more along the beaten path, so some jokes were perhaps not as funny as they once were.
The story, similarly, hits plenty of familiar notes. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has seen its fair share of origin stories by now and this one doesn’t do a whole lot to differentiate itself, but let’s not act like Marvel has ever been a pioneer in storytelling. At this point in the lengthy saga, it’s more about what “Captain Marvel” does differently than what is the same.
Most of it is the same.
One unique aspect that “Captain Marvel” tries to leverage to its advantage is its placement in the 1990s. The film gives a peek into the origins of S.H.I.E.L.D as well as some other important elements that come up later in the timeline. Those that enjoy tying each film together chronologically will have a field day. Others may enjoy simply a smile of recognition and think, “Oh yeah, that’s that thing.” While I’ll admit the references where not my favorite moments, I’m thankful things didn’t get as ridiculous as Han getting his last name in “Solo” (but they got really close one time). The film also throws in a few “Hey, remember the ’90s?” moments, which get a groan out of me, but they aren’t too invasive and are there for those who need a nostalgia hit.
The other unique aspect is the film’s hero, who becomes the first woman to be the titular character in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film – because apparently 19 films was the point where executives felt like it was starting to get a little weird not having a lead character of the sex that makes up roughly half the planet. Unfortunately, aside from that, the film gives her little to stand out. She has a similar cocky, semi-self-righteous attitude as about, 75 percent of the existing heroes and there was never an action moment that made me go “Woah, she really IS the most powerful hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe” as she has been billed as. That’s not to say she isn’t powerful, as she wreaks some major havoc. And that cocky attitude is still really entertaining. It’s just, you know, familiar.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole is a pretty known quantity at this point. It has a few game-changers, but most of them are similar in terms of content and quality. I don’t think this is one of the game-changers, but part of what makes the Marvel Cinematic Universe great is that even the non-game-changers can be incredibly entertaining films like this. But knowing the film that follows this and the prominent role Captain Marvel plays in it, part of me can’t help but feel as though this is merely a prologue to the cinematic event of the decade.