Paging Captain Marvel: Captain Marvel Movie Review (Spoiler-free)

Like many people, I’m sure, I’ve been buried with advertisements and tons of social media commentary about Captain Marvel.   Some people are gushing because “squee female hero” and others are screaming it’ll be horrible and the advertisements make it look dumb.

Political commentary by talking heads and actors aside… well, it’s a Marvel movie, so I figured I’d want to see it anyway… despite all the hype, advertisements, and stupid crap people are saying about the movie.

And I’m glad I did.  It’s first and foremost, a Marvel movie.  It follows the same formula of their origin story movies and it does it fairly well.  Despite what hype might say, it’s not all that groundbreaking.  The CGI is great, the action is solid, the humor is there to highlight and accentuate, but isn’t the main theme of the movie.  It’s a movie about a hero finding herself.

It’s also one of the strongest heroes we’ve seen so far, with the power equivalent to (or maybe even exceeding) DC’s Superman.  There’s challenges that come with telling a story of a hero that powerful, and by and large, the writers pull it off.  We get to see Captain Marvel being strong and smashing stuff, but also trying to figure things out and learn who she really is.  We also get to see normal (or at least, merely mortal) humans taking on aliens who are far out of their league and it was pretty refreshing.  There’s lots of scenes in a variety of these movies of awesome heroes taking on superhuman threats and looking cool while doing it, there’s far fewer of regular people standing up to those threats with nothing more than bravery and their own cleverness.  They did a good job with that in this one.

There were a few twists and turns with the story, many of them are foreshadowed heavily enough that you can sort of see them coming, but there’s a couple things done for humor that are pretty well set up.  For as awesomely powerful Marvel is, I wish they showed her struggling with controlling her power a bit more, especially around us fragile humans.

The setting is mostly believable, though they laid some things on a bit thick.  I think the messaging was a little too ham-handed in parts, I’m not sure if that was the way certain villains were portrayed or just that they didn’t take the time to explain more of the background.  The ending was a bit rushed, too, but I’m not sure how the movie could have ended much differently given the setup.

It’s not my favorite Marvel movie, but it’s got it’s moments and there are a couple of great scenes.  Could it stand on its own?  Now that I couldn’t say.  Captain Marvel doesn’t have the same emotional grab to as broad an audience as other Marvel characters.  Iron Man started the franchise with a complex character with numerous flaws, a talented, brilliant, selfish, arrogant man who had lots of room to grow.  He was a character with his own inner demons to face and a story of arrogance and personal failures that basically drove the plot of the movies all the way up through the first Avengers.

Captain Marvel has power, but I don’t think she has that same resonance… or maybe I’m just not the target audience for that resonance.  She’s strong, she’s confident, but she’s too perfect.  She doesn’t have those flaws that mere humans can see as reflections of their own.  Her moments of awesome in the movie were cool… but there was never a moment where I felt I really resonated with the character.  Some of the side characters, absolutely.  There’s a side character who was far more dynamic and whose heroism (for the relatively short screen time she had) was fantastic.  I found myself wanting to see more of her than the main character.

Overall, it was fun.  There was plenty of dramatic tension to the fight scenes.  There were high stakes and the movie answered questions about the universe and opened up a whole new range of other ones.  Oddly enough, they’ve set themselves up for sequels to a prequel without really spoiling too much.  I enjoyed it, despite all the hype.  If you’re on the fence, I recommend seeing it for yourself.  Take what you’ve heard with a grain of salt and just see the movie.

 

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