Directed by: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Written by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch
The perception of men and women in the workplace is vastly different. When a man displays aggressive behavior in getting what he wants, they would be seen as driven while if a woman shows the same attitude, she would be labeled cutthroat. If a man gets riled up about something, it shows passion, while if a woman does the same, they would be labeled as emotional. This film takes a look at this idea of women having to suppress their identity for the sake of men all within a bland and tired Marvel origin story film.
Vers (Brie Larson) completes tasks and missions as part of a Kree squadron, who receive training from Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Vers’s group obtain orders to take out a group of infiltrating Skrulls and in the process, she gets apprehended by these creatures. She escapes their grasp and lands on planet Earth where she learns that she has more of a past on this planet than she previously thought.
As with any movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it all fits into a larger scheme and as the film takes place before the events of most of the other installments, it lacks any real stakes. Fear becomes nonexistent we know these characters will appear in the next movie in the saga. However, that does not take away from the enjoyment that they could provide, especially when trying to have a message. Captain Marvel attempts to focus on a woman realizing her potential and breaking loose from the restrictions of the system around her. It tracks through the progression of Vers, later known as Carol Danvers, and her interactions with her trainer, Yon-Rogg. He constantly tells her to control her emotions and lacking that control will be her downfall. Something women have to battle every day and the same plight of this superpowered hero. When the film focuses on this personal journey, it succeeds.
Unfortunately, the film still has to play in the sandbox of the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and therefore requires connectivity with a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). Their inclusion in the film serves as Carol’s introduction to Earth, which she would later have to protect. These two characters become so distracting so they have been digitally de-aged due to the film being set in the 1990s. The effects on Samuel L. Jackson are impressive but de-aging cannot make every aspect of an older actor younger. While Nick Fury looked like a young agent, the way he ran and fought very much appeared as an older man. In my opinion, they could have simply cast someone younger to portray Nick Fury and it would have worked fine. If it was good enough for Robert De Niro to play a younger Don Corleone in The Godfather Part II, then I am sure it would have been fine for Nick Fury.
While not being given the best material, Brie Larson does some good work in this film by being able to play an extremely confident woman that always feels like she can handle the obstacles laid in front of her. It’s quite funny to see critiques of this character centered on how her being obnoxious, which were not levied towards Tony Stark and Doctor Strange in their origin stories. Carol Danvers knows what she can accomplish and does so before unlocking her maximum potential.
A pleasant surprise in the film came with the always tremendous Ben Mendelsohn as a Skrull. His voice can be picked out of a crowd and he becomes the funniest part of the film. A character that has been tasked with portraying basic middle management villains has the opportunity to have role with more to chew on and he knocks it out of the park. Besides that, all of the other actors were just fine. Jude Law didn’t have much to do and he put in a decent performance for the material. Annette Bening also played a simple role, but she excels with any script given to her, but I’m sure that she will cash in the Marvel check and go back to making more meaningful films.
Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck helmed this film as another set of directors plucked from the independent cinema scene to helm one of these large blockbusters. Unfortunately, as for many of these directors, they have to play by the rules and their voices become muted by the explosions they needed to inject into the story. Not near their excellent work in Half Nelson but they put together a fine film with a fully realized central message.
For the most part, I enjoyed Captain Marvel because visually it had some flare to it. The battle sequences came together with clarity as the audience could see the action instead of it being a muddled mess. While Carol’s possessed undefined powers, the movie shows that you would not want to pick a fight with her by any means. Brie Larson continues her ascent to becoming a household name, great actors get a nice paycheck, and Marvel has another billion-dollar movie under their belt.