‘Captain Marvel’ is a flawed — but fun — superhero flick


courtesy of IMDb

Trevor Tyle, Life&Arts Editor

It’s only taken 21 films, but Marvel has finally put a female protagonist at the forefront of their latest flick — and a badass one, at that.

The company’s latest offering, “Captain Marvel,” comes just one month before what will surely be their biggest release so far — “Avengers: Endgame” — so it’s safe to say there was a fair amount of pressure for this film to be good. For the most part, it succeeds, though it’s far from a flawless effort.

Set in 1995, the film serves as an introduction to its titular heroine, played by the incomparable Brie Larson. (It’s worth noting that she’s referred to only as Vers, derived from her full name Carol Danvers, throughout the course of the two-hour-long film.) She’s on a journey of self-discovery, of sorts, having lost all memory and having only a vague idea of who she is.

An American fighter pilot-turned-space warrior, we find Carol fighting alongside her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) in a war against the shape-shifting Skrull species at the start of the film. After enduring a mind probe at the hands of Skrull leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), Carol escapes, crash-landing on the planet C-53 — better known to us as Earth. While there, she encounters S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury (a convincing, digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson), who gets wrapped up in her quest to discover her true identity and end the war between her people, the Kree, and the Skrulls.

“Captain Marvel” is far from a perfect film. I’d be lying if I said the first 20 minutes or so aren’t utterly incoherent on the first watch, and as a whole, the film suffers from some major pacing issues. But in spite of its occasional lackluster moments, there’s a lot to love here — including a heartwarming tribute to the late Stan Lee, who passed away earlier this year.

The film’s biggest issue lies in its predictable finale, which can largely be attributed to the fact that Captain Marvel is already expected to be crucial to the outcome of “Endgame.” Much like last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” the stakes aren’t very high — yet — because we already know Marvel has plans for its protagonists in upcoming releases.

While “Captain Marvel” may play it just a smidge safe, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck should be commended for their emphasis on character development and backstory — even if it is clunky at times. Larson should also be lauded for bringing everything she’s got to the titular character, playing her with the perfect combination of wit and grit.

And while I’m certainly not one to pit women against each other, “Captain Marvel” will inevitably be compared to “Wonder Woman,” the first female-fronted film in rival DC Comics’ repertoire. I’ll give DC this — in spite of their many, many fuck-ups, “Wonder Woman” is a damn good film and certainly flows better than “Captain Marvel.” But the latter feels fresher and takes more narrative risks, in spite of its formulaic cushion.

Regardless of which you like better, though, we are lucky to live in a time where there are so many badass females leading the big screen. Unfortunately, I can already see Captain Marvel suffering the same fate “Star Wars” protagonist Rey did — being attacked by an army of butthurt fanboys that complain about her being a “Mary Sue.” Hell, they already targeted the film’s Rotten Tomatoes audience score before it was even released. But in spite of that, it shouldn’t deter you from seeing this film.

“Captain Marvel” is far from the best Marvel film — and hell, that’s a difficult feat to accomplish when you’re following up “Black Panther” and “Infinity War.” It remains to be seen if the titular character will go on to have a legacy like Captain America or Iron Man, but at the end of the day, the character — and her film — offers a lot of heart at a time when we need it most.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars