Marvel’s Captain Marvel review – An enjoyable origin movie

Posted on 13 March 2019
By Andrew Siddall
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As Marvel Studios gears up to bring their first era of movies to an end with the highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame, we are introduced to a new character, set to become one of the most powerful live-action superheroes in recent years, Captain Marvel.

Not to be confused with the DC Comics character, the 21st instalment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) follows the amnesiac extra-terrestrial Carol Danvers caught in the middle of a war between two alien species, who begins to unlock memories of her past life as a U.S. Air Force pilot with help from Nick Fury.

Scott Pilgrim and Room actress, Brie Larson, makes her Marvel debut as the titular character with memory issues. Brie does a fairly good job in the role, with her talent coming through in the smaller moments. It’s a good introduction to the character with an interesting backstory, but there isn’t a lot of character progression or emotional stakes that help to bring out her relatable side. Hopefully in the future we will see more of this.

Making his return to the MCU is Samuel L. Jackson as a younger Nick Fury who gets to share the limelight for the first time. It’s great getting to see more of Fury and seeing what he was like before becoming the director of SHIELD. Samuel L. Jackson is great, once again, and has some of the best lines in the entire film.

An unrecognisable Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One) makes an appearance as Talos, the leader of a band of shape-shifting aliens known as the Skrulls. He continues Marvel’s streak of strong characters and serves as a highlight of the movie.

There’s a handful of other characters who have an impact on the story such as Jude Law and Annette Bening as Yon-Rogg and the Supreme Intelligence, but they don’t get a lot of time to shine next to Lashana Lynch’s Maria Rambeau and Goose the Cat who get some great moments alongside the leads.

It’s also nice to see characters from previous movies returning, such as Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, with Djimon Hounsou’s Korath and Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser from Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).

With this being the first MCU movie to be released following the passing of comic book legend Stan Lee, the pressure was on for a fitting tribute to the co-creator, fortunately Marvel pay their respects in a genuinely touching way that is sure to leave no dry eyes.

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, with a story from Boden, Fleck, Meg LeFauve, Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Nicole Perlman, Captain Marvel follows Carol Danvers (aka Verse) as she uncovers her past whilst trying to stop an invasion of Earth.

It’s a fairly straight forward story that sticks closely to the ‘Marvel formula’ and manages to avoid too many comparisons with DC’s Green Lantern, which works well for this film, but stops it from taking any big risks. There’s some good surprises that separate it from many of the other films but don’t really add anything new.

Acting as a prequel to Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers (2012), the movie takes place in 1995, the age of Blockbuster Video and slow computers. It’s an interesting time to have the movie take place and brings something different to the table, allowing it to emulate the movies of the time, such as Starship Troopers, Total Recall and T2: Judgement Day, which provide some good blasts of nostalgia.

It’s become a staple in Marvel Studios films to have a mixture of action and comedy, and Captain Marvel is no different, with there being a good amount of gags to liven the mood. For the most part, the comedy hits its mark, with some clever 90’s references, although many of Carol’s quips don’t land. The sense of humour never goes too far and doesn’t take anything away from the more serious moments, which has been a problem in some MCU movies.

The action is spectacular and handled brilliantly. A few early fist-fights are shot a little messy, but when Carol’s powers are unleased the action really picks up. There hasn’t been many powerful superheroes in the MCU, with the exception of Thor and Doctor Strange, which makes this feel different and shows something we haven’t seen before, with Carol able to take on entire fleets of spaceships by herself.

This is only enhanced by the incredible effects that help to build the world around Carol and even manages to make her ‘binary form’ look pretty awesome and really pop onscreen. It’s also great to see the Skrulls shapeshift in a satisfyingly believable way.

It is great to see practical make-up being used to bring many of the alien species to life, with the designs and patterns providing an interesting and colourful aesthetic.

The soundtrack was created by Pinar Toprak, who marks the first female composer for a live-action superhero movie. The score is pretty solid and at times truly stirring with a great use of synthesisers to emphasise the sci-fi and 90’s elements. It isn’t as memorable as it could have been, lacking any real iconic moments, but it fits the tone and visuals really well.

And with this movie set in the 90’s, there’s a great selection of songs to liven the scenes, much in the same vein as Guardians of the Galaxy. The choices are great overall, but one or two feel out of place when they are used.

As is the case with most superhero movies, the story has plenty of room for expansion with sequels and spin-off movies, but the attention has now turned to the character’s appearance in Avengers: Endgame (2019), and based on this movie, she will surely be a welcomed presence on the team and a key player against the Mad Titan, Thanos.

Overall, Captain Marvel is a fun movie with a breezy pace and some good characters. While not a marvellous outing, this is a good introduction to a character that will guide the Marvel Universe forward in Phase 4 and beyond.

Purple Revolver rating: 3.5/5. An fun blast from the past.