Captain Marvel is flat and boring because an already typical origins story is held back by MCU tie-ins.
Vers (Brie Larson) is a Starforce member in the Kree Empire’s capital Hala. She suffers from amnesia and recurring nightmares. Nonetheless, she continues to participate as a soldier in Kree’s war with extraterrestrial shapeshifters called Skrulls. While on a mission, she’s captured by Skrull commander Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). Vers escapes and crash lands on Earth. There, she recovers her memory, gains unexpected allies, and discovers who she really is as two-warring alien races make their way to her long-lost home.
The already box-standard origins story is crammed with other origins stories to fill in the blanks for Marvel fans. You have the early years of S.H.I.E.L.D., a younger cat-loving Fury before he lost his eye, where the Tesseract came from, and how the Avenger’s Initiative came about. This is plugged into an action-adventure where Vers goes on a road trip with Fury to find the usual Marvel MacGuffin before a cut-rate villain finds it first.
The action scenes are executed well enough to be above your B-movie sci-fi action film, but pedestrian compared to previous MCU offerings. At some point, a blue-faced Gemma Chan shoots Captain Marvel with a Nerf gun. Even with all these 90’s pop culture references, the film has no personality. The First Avenger had whiz-bang action, Iron Man touched on the military-industrial complex with flair, and Thor had Shakespearean themes. Captain Marvel has a cool cat.
In the end, that’s only what you get – pop culture bits, recycled MCU beats, and a flerken.
The supporting characters – Fury and Talos – had more engaging screen time. Jackson as the unaware agent Fury and Mendelsohn as a wry villain make the proceedings amusing, but they’re not what you’re supposed to be here for. The script doesn’t pay enough attention to the transformation of Vers to Carol Danvers that whatever emotional depth Brie Larson puts into her role becomes superficial.
And what about all that female empowerment it promises? sadly whatever you see in the trailers is all that it can offer. There are great elements here – a female warrior seen as too emotional, villains that could shapeshift, and Top Gun dogfighting. But Marvel has a bigger trilogy to end so they’re just peppered onto a muddled narrative.
Captain Marvel deserved better and the first female-led MCU movie deserved more. Hopefully, with the Avengers ending, the sequel is free to be the Carol Danvers movie it deserves to be. And more Goose.
Captain Marvel is a faux-feminist MCU entry with a typical origins story, lackluster plot, and perfunctory action scenes.