‘Captain Marvel’ Review: Latest Marvel Origin Story Soars!

A Student Reviews The Latest Marvel Blockbuster

Captain Marvel promotional poster courtesy of Marvel

Captain Marvel promotional poster courtesy of Marvel

Logan Gaertner, Contributor

Going in to Captain Marvel, I was a bit apprehensive as to whether or not I was going to enjoy it. I hadn’t been a huge fan of any of the trailers or marketing, and the manufactured controversy surrounding it just made the whole ordeal feel unnecessarily toxic. Nevertheless, I was intrigued about the character Captain Marvel because I frankly knew very little about her, and that was exciting to me. So I sat down in the theater not quite knowing what to expect…

And I am more than happy with the end result!

Brie Larson gives a very understated, yet completely real performance as Carol Danvers, who by the way has quickly become one of my absolute favorite characters in this seemingly unstoppable Marvel franchise. I was not super familiar with her work as an actress (outside of her small role in Scott Pilgrim vs The World), until I watched Lenny Abrahamson’s Room for the first time, and she COMPLETELY blew me away in that movie, and made me super excited to see what she did with this kind of material. The way Larson plays the role here reminded me of how Ryan Gosling played Neil Armstrong in Damien Chazelle’s First Man. Underrated, nuanced, completely stoic, but also never losing sight of the humanity that comes within their respective characters. I also could not disagree more with those that say Larson is miscast; I think no one could have played the role better than she does here. It’s one of the better lead performances in any relatively recent comic book movies.

And it’s not just Larson’s performance that’s great; the other major standouts to me were, well, pretty much all of the other members of the ensemble cast! Samuel L. Jackson plays a much younger, less cynical Nick Fury (the de-aging effects didn’t even phase me once during the entire viewing experience), and he does so magnificently well! His chemistry with Larson’s Carol is a relationship dynamic I didn’t know I needed, and it was a wonder to behold. Jude Law is pretty good as Star Force leader, Yon Rogg, but Ben freaking Mendelsohn once again proves why he’s one of the best character actors working in Hollywood right now. His skrull leader, Talos, is one of the most compelling characters in the movie and he is conveyed perfectly through Mendelsohn, and I honestly forgot that it was him underneath the neat looking green alien face and pointy ears after a while. However, my favorite supporting performance in the movie came from Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau. My two favorite scenes in the whole film contain incredibly empowering and authentic moments that come from her and her interactions with Carol (don’t worry, no spoilers), and those scenes are what made me go from believing “this is pretty good”, to “Holy crap this is kind of great!”. Not to mention, the little girl that plays Maria’s daughter in the film (Akira Akbar) is delightful!

The structure was another aspect of Captain Marvel that I found to be very refreshing, as opposed to being a relatively straightforward origin story a la Doctor Strange (I like Doctor Strange, but it’s structure is not particularly inspired). The usage of non-linear storytelling was pulled off in a way that helps to make this story stand out from all the rest. The cutting back and forth between a vague memory and the present day was very well conveyed and resulted in a number of other satisfying moments.

I’m not super familiar with Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck as filmmakers, but their direction did shine through pretty well throughout the movie’s entirety. The writing is worth high praise, both for being sincere, sharp, and not without wit (that signature Marvel humor successfully stays intact). The cinematography from Ben Davis is also pretty unique compared to other entries in the genre as of late, and the visual effects and production design are spectacular! I also really dug the musical score from Pinar Toprak, which has a pretty great main theme, some awesome 90s and space synth, and some great melodies and motifs that I thought worked great!

Speaking of the 90s, Captain Marvel does a marvelous job of keeping consistent with the time period it takes place in. The overall aesthetic of Earth looks very 90s, and the soundtrack helps to reflect the feeling of that iconic decade as well. It was also nice that none of the callbacks to not just the 90s era of pop culture, but also to other MCU movies didn’t feel gratuitous. They all made sense within the context of everything pre established.

But my absolute favorite things about this movie are the quieter moments where characters are just conversing, and it almost feels like an indie rather than a blockbuster, and I found that to be really refreshing. Captain Marvel is also a lot more heartfelt, sincere, and emotionally resonant than I ever would have expected. I saw someone claim that this movie has the same level of sincerity as Superman (1978), and I would agree with that statement wholeheartedly. Even some of the better superhero movies lose sight of a beating heart at its center, but thankfully Captain Marvel does not suffer from that issue at all.

Now, the movie of course is not perfect (just like every film in existence). The plotting is sporadically convoluted, but only sporadically. The action sequences could have been cut together and framed better than they were, but there are still some really neat set pieces (one involving ceiling lights switching on and off in a government record room), and the movie takes a good fifteen minutes or so to find its footing, but once it does, it takes off and soars until the credits roll at the end. See! Even in the not so amazing elements, there are still some great things to be found!

Captain Marvel is a god-tier (lowercase g) MCU movie, a great superhero origin movie, and just a great movie in general. It has the sincerity and earned emotion of an indie drama, the spunk and sass of a beloved comedy, and it has the fun and entertainment value of a great big blockbuster. Most importantly though, it holds the message that tells everyone to not let crappy people suppress their feelings and to not let crappy people tell them who they are, and that is a powerful takeaway that anybody and everybody could learn from in more ways than just one.

We’re in the Endgame now…