Among the most awaited films of this year (despite some real competition) was Marvel’s latest juggernaut: Captain Marvel. The film is set in the mid 90s, years before the events of the Avengers films or, indeed, and first Iron Man. It follows the story of a Kree warrior referred to as ‘Vers’ (real name Carol Danvers, played by Brie Larson) as she searches for the life she doesn’t remember. Luck of the chance takes her to Earth, a planet she discovers she has a history with. The film stars Larson, Jude Law, and Ben Mendelson. Not only that, but the film also stars a digitally de-aged Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury and a similarly altered Clark Gregg as agent Phil Coulson. This is the last release from Marvel Endgame releases in May.
The build-up to this film didn’t seem all that crazy to me, considering the weight of influence it was rumoured to have on the MCU as a whole. The reviews told a story of averageness, and I’d say they got it right. Captain Marvel is decent, but that’s about it. The first half of the film is actively a little tragic. It’s kind of fortunate that, in an Indian theatre where we have an interval at the midpoint of the film, we can demarcate the halves of the film with reasonable precision, because the difference is huge. The first half of the film comes across kind of bland and bleh (this is the technical term). Iffy writing, bad writing, poor characterisation, and some slightly strange aesthetic choices make for not a terrible first half, but definitely not a good one. One particular example of a memory invasion scene comes to mind. The humour is very good when it lands which could be a lot more often, and the performances were al kind of meh. Jude Law has to try hard to make his character interesting, and of course being Jude Law he pulls it out of the bag somehow despite not exactly being helped by the writers. The concepts are introduced poorly, and it generally doesn’t feel like a Marvel film. That’s the first half.
The second half couldn’t be more different. Entertaining, pace-y, and much more exciting, the film kicks into gear around the time that Fury and Vers team up with intention. The humour starts landing, the characterisation gets richer and more interesting, and the plot picks up a lot. Something the film does really exceptionally well is build tension. Moments that aren’t inherently tense become so through some strong set-building (to anyone who’s seen the film, the lights in the archive hall are a great example) and camera work. Brie Larson comes into herself. Early in the film she just seems like an empty shirt in a lot of ways, like she was trying hard to come across interesting. Thanks to a huge spike in the quality of the writing and a fantastic relationship with her long-lost best friend, Carol Danvers ends the film as a charismatic, likeable, and deeply powerful character. There’s an extent to which she’s too powerful, that little bit where she casually blows up an entire fleet of ships being a great example of that. I don’t personally mind, if OP-ness is a problem then let’s take a quick look at Thor. My issue comes more in the area of how her powers suddenly change. There’s a moment in the film, reminiscent of Rey in The Force Awakens, where she suddenly becomes absurdly powerful. They do link it to something by way of the technology that inhibited her powers, but it felt a little contrived.
Ben Mendelson is the best part of this film. Like, far and away. Having accrued a reputation for being that ‘stock villain’ actor, Mendelson shines as the best actor and best character on screen in this film. There’s emotional depth about him than the rest of the film combined, and it’s a sight to see. All in all, the character work is fine. Danvers could have had more depth to her, but it’s debatable as to whether the fault lies with Larson or the writers and quite frankly it’s not in a bad place. She’s a strongly likeable character without a doubt, and that’s realistically all they could’ve wanted out of this film. The film in general? It’s good, not great. I’d say it’s only slightly below the average from a Marvel film, let’s settle on average to account for the best Stan Lee cameo in the franchise. Captain Marvel is a decent film, that falls slightly short on expectation as far as I was concerned. However, Carol Danvers’ introduction bodes very well for the impending release of Endgame.
– Aman Datta
Aman’s Score – 68/100 Aryamaan’s Score –