For a long while, comic book movies were centered around men; male superheroes learning to use their powers, grizzled dudes dealing with the responsibilities of being a hero, etc. But in 2016 Wonder Woman struck a core that Hollywood was seemingly unaware of: Trying something new, with finesse, precision, and passion is more than enough to get people excited and turn up in numbers. Captain Marvel is not a direct response to Wonder Woman, nor should it be given any cynicism over the fact that they were second to DC; it is as refreshing and novel to see a female super heroine-led blockbuster now, as it was back in 2016—just not as enjoyable. Despite all of the joy and entertainment that is found in Captain Marvel, it is a shame that it feels like another Marvel movie; in fairness, every Marvel release feels roughly the same to me, but their gimmicks ultimately make them better and distinct from each other, but Captain Marvel’s gimmicks fail to do so and leaves that unfulfilling generic after taste that most Thor movies have (with Ragnarok being an obvious exception).
That’s not to suggest that Captain Marvel is bad or unworthy of your time; Marvel movies may come fast, but they are still unrivalled in what they offer, and Captain Marvel is no exception. It is explosively fun, surprisingly funny, and manages to pull a few heart strings along the way; there are great set-pieces, great character-driven moments, a few memorable moments (like a bittersweet cameo and a nod to the inspiration for the color choices of Captain Marvel’s suit), lots of great performances (and an excellent purrformance!), and the most expensive looking CGI. Despite all of that, it is a movie about the protagonist discovering who they are and what they are made off; not exactly the most novel story, but it is brilliantly executed with an exceptional Brie Larson giving a great “superhero” performance, as well as a great dramatic and comedic performance. She nails all of the “cool, action gal” scenes, but she makes the narrative and her character relatable and emotionally rewarding to follow, which gives the cliché moments of the story more weight than I expected. Jude Law is also brilliant in this movie, because of how well he handles the difficulty of his character and his role in the movie. The movie is again, an entry in the MCU that anyone can jump into and follow the story told without any issues, but is given ample reason to go back to the previous movies and see what transpired there, so they can catch up; I don’t follow the lore of the MCU, but I had no issues with understanding or following the movie, besides not really knowing what the MacGuffin is or what it does, which is apparently pretty well known to other people who follow the lore.
My biggest problems with the movie are the problems that I usually have with Marvel movies; the first and final acts are not as strong as they could have been, the poor villain of the movie, and the gimmicks not working for me. Captain Marvel’s opening is a confusing mess which I hated sitting through; it is a fast back and forth of exposition, awkward introductions to characters and themes, and flashbacks (or flashforwards because at the time I couldn’t tell) that don’t really make any sense to the viewer. Once the movie moves forward and out of the first act, the real fun of the movie begins, but that is where the gimmicks show up; it is set in 1995, so lots of 90s nostalgia, and the Skrolls (the enemy alien force) are shapeshifting aliens that can transform into anything they see. For me, any kind of nostalgia is only a bonus and not a main feature of the movie, and while it is handled pretty well in Captain Marvel, it wasn’t really attractive or important to me; however, the Skrolls interesting feature is barely used to good effect: Sometimes it leads to cool moments, but most of the time it leads to uninteresting or baffling scenes that once I thought about them didn’t really make sense or weren’t that satisfying or exciting as they could have been. Finally, without getting into spoilers, the villain of the movie is poor (once again) and the ending climaxes a few times with only one feeling proper, which feels a bit poor as far as endings, go.
However, I’m very happy with my experience of Captain Marvel; like Wonder Woman before it, it does not make the fact that it is a super heroine-led movie become its gimmick. Instead, it focuses on the characters and their personalities, making a compelling movie about heroes, rather than a movie about females being better. In all honesty, I never expected Captain Marvel to be a movie that blew me away; it’s not my kind of movie, and that’s fine. But it is well executed and it is brilliantly fun to watch, and while it wasn’t as exciting for me as Wonder Woman was, it is still a welcome break from most of the male-centered blockbusters of lately, and a genuinely good movie that does not try to pander to certain sections of the population (or provoke a response from others). I might not remember it in a few months, but I had a blast for two hours, which is at the very least what I want from Marvel movies, and what I consistently get; it does not reach the highs of Thor: Ragnarok, or the surprise of the Avengers: Infinity Wars, but it doesn’t really have to, in order to be a good movie worth seeing.