“Higher, Faster, Stronger” and SPOILERS AHEAD
It’s the tagline to the Kelly Sue DeConnick run of Captain Marvel and its strewn about the marketing for the film, but for this reviewer, I don’t think we ever quite reach those words. It’s a film where we’re meeting a character that could very well shape the future of the MCU and with that, a lot of expectations going into just what to expect. Will Carol be powerful enough to stop Thanos? Where has she been for the past 20 years? Why didn’t Fury page her when The Chitauri came down in The Avengers or Ultron took over? I asked myself these questions before the start of the movie, hoping to get some answers. I did, but they weren’t necessarily the ones I wanted.
From the start of the film we get a nice tribute to Stan Lee in the Marvel title sequence. It was beautifully done and sad. Really hit home just how much of an influence he was to our lives as comic book fans. I loved it, teared up a little, but was also very happy to see what was going to happen next. The film started off really well for me. It was on an alien planet featuring aliens doing some cool spy stuff. Very much reminiscent of the ‘Carol Corps’ or even the ‘Green Lantern Corps’ if you’re on that side of the fence. We were introduced to Vers (pronounced Veers) aka Carol Danvers aka Brie Larson. A woman whose plagued by visions that she can’t explained. We also get to meet Yon Rogg whose played by Jude Law. They are student and teacher and I felt their chemistry was good. You are also introduced to the rest of their team including Dijmon Hounsou who we’ve seen as Korath in Guardians of the Galaxy. Again, the team dynamic is fine as they go on a mission to recover a stolen coworker from The Skrulls.
Okay, lets get into those guys a bit. In the comics The Skrulls are mostly baddies who can replicate themselves to look like anybody. This leads them into literally becoming some of our heroes and friendly neighborhood SHIELD agents and generally running amok on Earth much to the chagrin of The Avengers. This time around they are portrayed as a friendly species only looking to find a home and be rid of the meddling Kree. I hate to say it because its my own personal opinion, but I hated this route. Sure, down the road we may see something that causes them to do a Skrull Invasion; but at this time, they are just friendly and misunderstood and I was disappointed. Despite the fact that Ben Mendelsohn was amazing as ever in his portrayal of Talos.
With The Skrulls as the good guys and The Kree being bad because they want to stop them, its Carol in the middle trying to piece together the fragments of her mind and figure out which side she should be on. Her visions show Marvell aka Annette Bening and her in front of an burning ship being attacked by a Skrull. Come to find out that her vision is wrong, its actually Yon Rogg who is attacking them in order for Marvell not to get The Tesseract to the Skrulls to help them use light speed to find a planet to escape The Kree. Does this make any sense to you? It didn’t to me and ultimately I didn’t really care. No offense to The Skrull but we know what the Tesseract is ultimately used for as an Infinity Stone and giving light speed to some aliens seems like a waste of its powers. All that being said, when Vers shoots the engine housing the Tesseract she takes the blast into her body and it imbues her with its powers. On top of that, Yon Rogg gives her his blood, making her half-Kree…for some reason. I don’t get why he would do that to keep her alive and then train her to be a Kree soldier? Why not just shoot her in the head and be done with it if he’s so evil? OR let her actually use the powers when going out on missions because you know she’s super powerful?
I could go down that path for a while, so lets move on. Brie Larson is a fantastic actor but quite honestly I think she wasn’t given much to go off of in the film. I blame the directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Larson was very flat the majority of the movie. I know they said they took from the DeConnick comics, but in those she’s very quick witted and snarky and just oozes a power and confidence. In this film, Larson was very one-note and really only shined when she was around Samuel L. Jacksons Nick Fury. The two of them doing their ‘Buddy Cop’ thing had some shining moments, but overall, it just stayed pretty level. The action sequences were FINE. No outstanding moments where I was really drawn in, save the Star Wars-esque ship encounter in the end; but that didn’t even have Larson in it. Her interaction with her best friend in the film Maria aka Lashana Lynch, were also FINE. They didn’t have an amazing chemistry in my opinion. Nothing really got to a point where the audience was cheering or reacting wildly. Some chuckles here and there, mostly for Goose, but otherwise everyone just kinda rode the gentle waves til the end.
The cameo from Stan Lee reading the Mallrats script was genius. It was great to see Clark Gregg back as Coulson. The 90s aesthetic was okay but didn’t transport me back to that time period. Other than some computer internet jokes, it coulda taken place in the 80s. Lee Pace returning as Ronan the Accuser was underutilized. Overall, it was a Phase 1 film with 2019 graphics, with a fantastic lead actress not given enough material to really shine. I was simply whelmed by the movie and I’m hoping The Russo Brothers really get to show off what the character can do in Avengers Endgame. As far as the cultural impact and significance of this film for women, it will not have the same effect that Black Panther or Into the Spider-Verse did with people of color. All people should be empowered, especially women, but I personally felt that Wonder Woman did a better job at showing that grace and confidence that females possess. Plus, with the exception of WW’s 3rd act, the script is just better overall.
We shall see how this character shapes the future of the MCU. Its likely that Captain America won’t make it out of Endgame and that she’s the NEW Captain in town. Let’s just just hope that she’s more like her comic book counterpart and can rise Higher, Faster, Stronger to take on the role.