I was late to the party for this one in that I didn’t get to see it in the theater but I just watched it a few times On Demand and I had some thoughts so I figured why not share them here? I’d heard differing opinions on it; some people I talked to absolutely loved it and some didn’t. It was also a target for the YouTube brigade and got user review bombed on Rotten Tomatoes by a bunch of angry dudes, for reasons only they would understand and accept. One day those guys will give up, I hope. For all their efforts they couldn’t derail the film’s success, as it brought in a staggering billion plus at the box office, making it the eighth film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to do so and the fourth in two years.
Set in the 90s, it served to introduce the newest onscreen member of the Avengers crew in Carol Danvers and explain to us all how she became who she is. (Setting it in the past also alleviated any crossover entanglement issues with all the Thanos business going on in the present). We also got to see a younger Nick Fury, early in his career at Shield, as he teamed up with Carol to uncover who among the shape shifting aliens the Skrulls (led by Ben Mendleson’s Talos) is hiding among us and thwart a pending invasion. With Avengers: Endgame approaching the movie needed to acquaint us with a new character and give her a story so that Avengers: Endgame wouldn’t have to spend a bunch of time explaining who she is.
The story is a mix of present happenings and flashback scenes as Carol’s lost memories begin to come back to her through a series of triggers as she learns who she really is and what happened to her with the help of Fury, her best friend Maria Rambeau, Maria’s daughter Monica, and ultimately Talos. From there it’s time to save some people in need and realize her true abilities as she realizes that the Kree, who took her away and repressed her memories to make her a soldier for them, aren’t who they’ve told her they were all this time.
Finally, another origin story/solo film that doesn’t revolve around a charming but jerky and/or buffoonish dude or assumption of a destined throne. We’re talking 12 out of the 18 non-Avengers MCU films here (3 Iron Man and Thor films, 2 Guardians films, 2 Ant-man films, Black Panther, and Dr. Strange). Carol Danvers is an Air Force pilot who is just being a trailblazer in her little corner of the world and doesn’t need to broken, humbled or whatever to realize the importance of the people around her. Thank God!
There were several flat out heartwarming moments throughout, from all of Carol’s interactions with Monica to the Skrull family reunion after we’ve found out the truth about them, to Carol’s conversation with Talos after learning that truth for herself. Mendelson as Talos, Latasha Lynch as Maria and Akira Akbar were great casting choices as Talos, Maria, and Monica lift up every scene they’re in.
Samuel L Jackson does great as always and even puts a different spin on Fury than what we’ve seen to date. Not yet the hardened, cynical, but also duplicitous ass kicker that we’ve gotten to know Fury is a bit more lighthearted here, as is shown through all his interactions with Goose the cat during the film. Here Fury is still a believer in the good that can come through organizations like Shield and it’s a stark contrast to present day.
Jude Law does a good job as Yon Rogg, leader of Carol’s Starforce unit while she’s part of the Kree military. Rogg is unwavering in his zeal even as the true nature of he and Carol’s mentor/student relationship is uncovered. And lastly there’s Goose and Stan Lee in one of his final cameos in the MCU.
Then there’s the music, chock full of 90s goodness. Even the songs that don’t really seem to fit the story were great reminders of the times and added to the film in the right way. I mean who cares if TLC’s Waterfalls has any relevance to the story here?
And oh yeah they had a battle scene in space. That’s always good for points from me.
If you are a stickler for continuity you may take issue with how Nick Fury’s previous claim (in the first Avengers film) that Thor’s arrival let Earth know we weren’t alone was rendered null and void by the very existence of this film. Similar to the name drop of Stephen Strange in Captain America: Winter Soldier it seems like a line from an earlier film was put in without much consideration of what would be happening a few years later. And the explanation I got from Twitter, that Fury lies about everything because he’s a spy so no big deal, just doesn’t do it for me.
Other than that the only real issue I had was that they got a little heavy handed in making it clear that the biggest obstacles in Carol’s journey were placed by men. Not that art wasn’t imitating life but one of Carol’s male fellow pilots has one of the worst lines ever in ‘that’s why they call it the COCK-pit’. Yeah, that’s way super cringey there along the other guy who’s only line was to tell Carol to smile for him. Yeah, you can have made the exact same points with different lines, writing team.
Other than that, no real issues.
There’s a whole lot of source material deviation here. If you’re a stickler for that then I’m guessing you weren’t too happy with what you got. I am totally inconsistent when it comes to that – sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t care, sometimes I don’t like it. Just know that there was no way they’d fit the entire story of Mar-Vell, Monica Rambeau and the Kree-Skrull war from the comics into a two hour movie. The way they did it allows to revisit the war and Monica’s character in the future so there’s a good chance we’ll see something closer to what you were used to on those fronts soon.
But if that stuff and the way they handled it was a deal breaker for you I’m not here to fight you. It’s enough that I understand where you’re coming from. I’m not that steeped in Captain Marvel lore so in this case it doesn’t bother me, whereas something like making Batgirl Alfred’s niece instead of Commissioner Gordon’s daughter is enough to drive me up the wall (thanks for nothing Joel Schumacher).
I really enjoyed this one, enough to go buy the DVD after three on demand viewings. It’s a very easy watch, doesn’t force what humorous moments in, has great work by all the cast members, and puts some nice twists on some things that I’d gotten to see as repetitive in some of the MCU films. And while some of that was simply having a woman in the lead role there were other things at play, too.
The best think I can say about this one is that it reignited the interest I have in the MCU going forward. I’d started to waver over the past couple of years because I was ready for Thanos to get here already and it felt like they were putting out movies just to put people and Infinity stones on the board for Infinity War and Endgame. But while this one obviously was to put Captain Marvel on the board too it felt like a good offering as a standalone in it’s own right.
Final score on my grading scale: 5/6 (Very Good)