The second outing for the MCU after the calamity of Infinity War once again takes place before the snap, as Marvel continues to leave us hanging. Rather than picking up a broom and addressing all the dust in the room, we take a romp back to the 90’s complete with grunge, NIN shirts, and angst on every street corner with a Blockbuster across the street. It is in this simpler time which we find Carol Danvers and Nick Fury on their adventure to help Danvers remember her past and also to track down some lady. Oh, and there is also an impending invasion from an alien civilization, but that doesn’t really matter
It took until their 21st film in the series, but Marvel finally have a female lead in Captain Marvel, an all powerful super-god who is going to vaporize Thanos with lazer beams, Goku-style. She is already one of the most powerful beings in the MCU, rivaling Thor, Thanos and any other cosmic entity out there right now. Early on in the film, she is part of Kree attack squad who fight to quell any Skrull movements into Kree territory. The Skrull are shapeshifter who infiltrate a planet before eventually taking it over- sort of. Danvers is captured after an early ambush by the Skrull which eventually leads to her escaping, landing on Earth and unintentionally uncovering part of her past which she had forgotten. Her discovery of her past as an Earthling also reveals the true nature of the Kree-Skrull conflict, which then leads to one of the first real issues with the film.
Spoilers from here on out.
It turns out, that the Skrull are actually the victims of this conflict, as the Kree seek to keep them suppressed as the Skrull simply try to find a new home world for themselves. The lady she was searching for was a Kree scientist living on Earth who sought to help the Skrull and end the war via their escape from the Kree. This twist in the story changes the role of antagonist. Throughout the first two acts of the film, that role is filled by the Skrull general, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). However, once the revelation is made, that role switches to, I guess Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). I say, “I guess” as Law’s character never really feels like a real antagonist; instead he is just kind of a dick-head. Even Ronan the Accuser, the antagonist in Guardians of the Galaxy, joins Yon-Rogg in being more a dick-head than a true antagonist.
This is especially disappointing after marvel had finally seemed to get villains right, as three of their past five films have had great villains, and the other two had good, if underutilized villains. This also leads to steaks of Captain Marvel never feeling very high; by the time the final confrontation with Yon-Rogg has arrived, he is just kind of a dude who has been in the film, and eve seems to behave like it. Once you finally throw in the fact that, by this point, Captain Marvel is able to steam-roll through a small fleet of space ships, it leaves the film without a satisfying conclusion.
Captain Marvel is not just Marvel’s first female lead, but also its first hero with a Mohawk. Though less heralded, it is just as important.
Though the lack of build-up and resolution makes the film feel a little flat, that trend line is still pretty good. The characters are enjoyable, particularly Brie Larson as the titular character, and of course Samuel L Jackson, who is a consummate professional. Due to its placement in the timeline, there are not a lot of other opportunities to mingle with other characters other than a look at a youthful and varnished Agent Coulson. Even the characters who hot-potato around the role of antagonist are all enjoyable, if not hefty enough to properly fulfill their purpose.
One of the defining factors of this film lies in its setting, and to that end, the most noticeable aspect of that is in the music. The soundtrack plays like a greatest hits compilation of the decade, though that is not a good thing. Most of, if not all of the songs are fairly obvious and on the nose in regards to their placement within the film. ‘’I’m Just a girl,” “Come as you are,” and others play as the most obvious counterparts to their scenes. Though never quite getting to the point of being embarrassing, the lack of subtlety detracts from the film. Nailing the popular music to place within a film is not easy; it takes a deft hand to be able to find the right song which is recognizable and applicable, yet not too obvious or cliché. One has to look no further than Marvel’s own Guardians of the Galaxy to find an example of a film that nails it. Often, it comes down to the skill of the filmmaker to be able to find the right songs, and the ones used here just missed the mark due to often being the obvious choice.
Overall, Captain Marvel succeeds where every other Marvel film has in providing a fun experience that is satisfying for the most part. Though it falls short of their more recent standard, it should do nothing to detract from the excitement leading into Endgame, as well as accomplishing its purpose of introducing a key character to the future of the entire MCU.