We’re five weeks away from the much “Endgame,” the anticipated Avengers follow-up to last year’s “Infinity War.” So much hype and emphasis has been put on the importance of what Captain Marvel, a new character to the film universe, will bring to the sequel. But will it pay off?
We’re already a couple of weeks into the character’s introduction with her own origin piece in theaters. Marvel box office numbers are consistently foolproof, but the general consensus has been “just okay” for a while. And, while I haven’t been complaining about superhero fatigue as much as some people, I have been bordering on disinterest with the whole sub-genre for a while. Captain Marvel mostly proves what every naysayer has been tossing around for years: Marvel movies are just too safe and pedestrian, and they don’t take any real chances.
“Captain Marvel” stars Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson from “Short Term 12” (2013) and “Room” (2015) as the title character, who is super powerful, strong, and from a galaxy far away. As far as origin films go, it’s pretty basic. We spend the first act seeing Starforce soldier Vers (Larson) being trained by her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) for the intergalactic war that’s going down. She also has various flashbacks to a previous battle that included her former superior Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening). Second act has Vers crashing into a late 1990s-era Earth, where she discovers that she had amnesia six years earlier and is actually the human US Air Force pilot Carol Danvers. There’s also some comic relief and the type of supporting characters we’ve seen in all the other phase one MCU films released from 2008-2011.
Because the 1990s are now appealing to modern middle schoolers and high schoolers, much like the 1960s were to students in the actual ’90s, there are a lot of pop culture references shoe-horned in during the Earth scenes. It’s a little awkward (take the girl power anthems by Garbage, No Doubt, and Hole that play during action sequences, for instance), but as eye roll inducing as it could be. What is annoying in “Captain Marvel,” however, is the regular use of de-aging CGI on actors to make them look like their younger selves, which is what the SFX team did to Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg. No matter how advanced CGI becomes, those young faces still don’t look genuine to me.
Now let me say what does work: Larson, even with as little development as she’s given, proves she’s still a memorable actress, and there is a pet cat that is adorable, but that could be the inner cat lady in me talking. “Captain Marvel” is called Ms. Marvel no more, but her first film could’ve benefited from more risks taken from film-making duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who are generally pretty good.
I want blockbusters with female stars to be common and accepted. I want the day to come when it’s not a huge deal for women to have success. That won’t happen any time soon if studios continue producing the bare minimum and expect them to make profit (and they usually do because the options are so limited, unfortunately). Now we wait to see if Vers/Carol/Marvel can successfully fair better in “Endgame” or suffer from too high expectations.