Captain Marvel ★★½

"This whole time I've been fighting with one hand tied behind my back. What happens when I'm finally set free".

If anything, the DCEU can always say they had the first modern female led movie. With Captain Marvel, Marvel studios has finally decided it is time to release their own female led solo movie. Whether planned or not, their latest film introduces Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) as the titular Captain Marvel for the primary reason of facing Thanos in the highly anticipated, Avengers: Endgame. I do consider myself to be a comicbook reader and fan, but I was never interested in Captain Marvel, whether it be the male or female iteration. I've just always found the character to be overpowered and rather dull. Seeing the trailer for this movie did absolutely nothing but make my eyes question the vfx and script of the movie. So If not evident by now, I did not enter the movie with any hype or excitement. I actually walked in expecting it to be rather formulaic, cheesy, having dated vfx, and a forced 90s reliance. By no means do I endorse or advocate for walking into movies expecting them to be subpar, but for my own taste, my assumptions weren't completely wrong.


Unfortunately for Captain Marvel, the amnesia trope affected the plot and character charisma severely. A lot of the story and revelations ride on the amnesiac trope obviously, but they constantly distracted from my entertainment because it was so thinly established that you could tell what a majority if not all of the twists would be. I will give respect to a rather unique way that the movie utilised a flashback sequence through diegetic technology, paired with some expected yet bearable exposition. And while I typically do enjoy non-linear storytelling, it just didn't work for this. As much as it wanted to avoid coming off as yet another basic origins story, the hoops and fancy distractions just made it all the more formulaic and bogged down what could have given Carol much more development and emotion. Instead of bouncing around and trying to make a mystery out of an already obvious twist, I do think a linear telling from her childhood till her eventual USAF test crash would have made for a much more rounded and sympathetic character. Seeing Carol struggle hurdle after hurdle, and overcoming her obstacles would have given a heightened sense of achievement and victory by the end, but instead a lot of her character is force-fed through flashback and supporting character exposition. Without spoiling anything, I just wasn't fully convinced by the end that her final form was earned, which is something I truly feel many of the other MCU entries can at least do. In example, you absolutely feel for the development that Thor has from the end of Ragnarok to the end of Infinity War, just as you can feel for just about each and every Guardian in their two heartfelt volumes. I'm not sure if this is on the sort of miscast Larson, or the direction/script. I think more in the latter, with a script that has the Herculean task of throwing CM in right before Endgame. Had the film been released a few years earlier, it would have probably benefitted from not coming off rushed narratively. Frankly, the movie offers almost two Larson performances, one being her deliberately angsty Kree brash smart-ass, back talking, cocky rebel, and the other as the more aloof, rigid, yet emotional open Carol Danvers. The prior was easily the more entertaining version of her, and it played much more effectively with the protégé affection she has with Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), and the comedic buddy cop relation with Nick Fury (Sam Jackson). Brie is at her best when she's giving us the snarky side, rolling her eyes, sucker punching grannies, grinning into combat, and photon blasting everything. Alone she's not that entertaining, but with that partner to play off of, it's pure joy. I can't wait for her and Thor (and eventually Star-Lord) to meet-up. But with some back-and-forth development of her character, she can easily go from comical to bland from one scene to another. Luckily, those aforementioned supporting characters are there when things might get a little dull. 


Now let's talk about the elephant in the room, the very forced 90s nostalgia. And arguably where all the budget was spent...the music licensing. It was prevalent in the trailer the second you saw the Nine Inch Nails (NIN) t-shirt, that this would be a 90s movie. And to my surprise, I don't actually recall if they even use a single NIN song. If they did, it must have been playing off a background diegetic radio. I was absolutely fine with that absence, because in all actuality NIN only became a big thing later in the 90s, around 1999. It would have been more realistic to have Carol sporting a Nirvana or Beastie Boys shirt. And while it would have made for some comical moments, having the movie set in 1995 does not allow for any Brittany Spears or the onslaught of boybands that explode to fame in the late 90s (Backstreet Boys and NSYNC). For your consideration, I present some appropriately year released and theme/tone maleable options: Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun", Beastie Boys' "Sabotage", Green Day's "Basket Case", Haddaway's "What is Love", Ace of Base's "The Sign", or Corona's "Rythym of the Night". Even Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Higher Ground" and "Suck my Kiss" would be fitting. Most shockingly were the exclusions of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" and Sir Mix-a-lot's "Baby Got Back". Possibly a reach, but it would have been hilarious to have the shapeshifting Talos (Mendelssohn) have a scene set to Radiohead's "Creep". Now I brought up the soundtrack choices and 90s theme because they were heavy handed at multiple instances. No scene gets more ridiculous than two instances when the use of Nirvana's "Come as You Are" and No Doubt's "Just a Girl" play to reinforce a particular on the nose message. It's an issue when the music is doing ALL the talking for your film and character.  I'm all for memes and goofs, but I don't think I've cringed as hard in a movie for quite some time. I get that music amplifies emotion and gets across a message with ease, but there is such things as tasteful subtleties, which apparently did not cross what seemed go be a writers room of 10 different minds. Clueless, Trainspotting, Cruel Intentions, and 10 Things I Hate About You all featured a more even handed soundtrack for the 90s. I do think that Captain Marvel had some writing room differences, and the largest assumption being that someone was really pushing the whole grunge look and necessity for reaching that 90s alternative outsider demographic, while the others were focused on making an entertaining and self-contained tale like Ant-Man. In result, the movie switches around just like Captain Marvel bounces from her Kree identity, Vers, to her past Carol Danvers.

I did have more fun than I expected, and the special effects were nowhere near the atrocity that the trailer marketed. And while I enjoyed the vfx for the weapons, particularly Minerva's (Chan) sniper rifle, the fights were awful. The action is unfortunately still as bad as the trailer, and ther reliance of shakey cam and closeup made for quite the tasteless and disorienting fight sequences. Where the sometimes shakey but more handheld cam didn't bother me as much was in one chase sequence. I'm fairly certain I'm the first to bring this up, but I was really thinking of the infamous Point Break chase scene at one instance, and that was a pretty nice 90s recall for me. Ben Davies was the cinematographer, and it's no surprise that he managed to handle the space act of the movie with relative ease, seeing how he's also done Guardians of the Galaxy and Dr. Strange. While this won't be in my top 10 MCU movies, I did like it a little bit more than I expected to, just a little.


BYOT: that Stan Lee tribute had me in my feels.


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