On March 8, “Captain Marvel,” the last solo film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s third phase of movies, premiered. Marvel’s phase three is set to end once “Avengers: Endgame” releases on April 26. “Captain Marvel”introduced us to a hero that may take center stage in phase four of the MCU, the charismatic Kree soldier Carol Danvers.
It was a good MCU movie, though it wasn’t on par with the other more recent movies such as “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Black Panther.”
Here are two things that shine about “Captain Marvel” and two things that could have been better.
Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury steals the show
You remember that time Samuel L. Jackson phoned in a role?
Yeah, me neither.
Jackson was born to play Nick Fury — Marvel Comics’ “Ultimate” universe based Fury’s appearance off Jackson before the movies even came out — and his mainstage role in “Captain Marvel” showcases the character, perhaps, better than any other MCU movie. This Fury is not the battle-hardened man we first saw in “Iron Man,” but Jackson still shows his signature dry wit and charm that made Marvel fans fall in love with him.
The digital de-aging of Jackson for the movie was phenomenal. Jackson looked as if he was just done shooting Pulp Fiction, and he never had an “uncanny valley” look some de-aging processes suffer from.
The plot twist was a nice subversion of traditional Marvel tropes
In the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to the Skrull, an alien race that can shapeshift into any form it desires. They are immediately portrayed as the villains of the movie, and with one of them played by actor Ben Mendelsohn, who is notorious for playing villains, the audience is inclined to believe it.
Despite this, though, it turns out that the Skrull are actually being terrorized by the race that adopted Carol Danvers, the Kree: We see some Skrull civilians hidden away with their families and fearing for their future during the climax.
It’s a fresh plot twist and gives us an insight into how Danvers was manipulated to believe she was a hero when it was revealed this was not the case.
Now, for the bad:
The first act is a drag
You’re kind of thrown into Captain Marvel at the start, and it is hard to understand what is really happening.
We see that Carol Danvers is suffering from nightmares about a mysterious woman, but the audience has no idea why. This plot device is almost immediately interrupted by Danvers and her gang undergoing a mission to extract an undercover operative held by the Skrulls.
It all goes by very fast, and there is quite a bit that can only be understood by the most die-hard Marvel fans. The memory bit, along with the Kree’s AI leader in the Supreme Intelligence, are left largely unexplained until much later, and we are introduced to some Kree characters who are left behind almost immediately after Carol gets to Earth. The moment she lands in that Blockbuster, the movie really starts to find its stride.
Brie Larson’s performance was a bit iffy
Brie Larson’s Danvers is set to be a mainstay in the upcoming phase of the MCU, and if her performance in this movie is an indication of what’s to come, it might be a rocky tenure.
Larson is at her best when she is witty and wisecracking, especially when she is playing off of Jackson’s Fury. She seems very natural when she brings out Danvers’ cocky and fun side, and she is a joy to watch when she is in her element.
In Carol’s serious moments, though, such as when she discovers the truth about her past on Earth and when she confronts the Kree commander who trains her, she falls largely flat. The moments where she is supposed to find purpose in her life and do the right thing are rather uninspiring, largely because Larson fails to move the audience.
Hopefully, we will see her explore the serious and gritty aspects of Danvers’ character much better next month in “Endgame.”