Captain Marvel Review: An Empowering But Average MCU Flick

Captain Marvel Review
Captain Marvel is the 21st MCU film in the Infinity Saga.

Captain Marvel is MCU’s 21st film in the Infinity Saga. It was released in 2019 and marks the penultimate entry before the culmination of the infinity saga with Avengers: Endgame. The film is based on the Marvel Comics character Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel. The film is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. While Boden, Fleck, Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve, and Geneva Robertson-Dworet have penned the screenplay. Captain Marvel went on to cross the coveted $1 billion mark at the box office. It is one of the most successful MCU films, raking in a hefty profit of over $400 million. Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson star in the leading roles while Jude Law plays the antagonist. The film also stars Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashan Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, and Clark Gregg. The story takes place before the Avengers were a thing.

Captain Marvel follows Carol Danvers as she transforms from a headstrong US Air force pilot to a superhero. The film also introduces the Skrulls in their first appearance in the MCU canon. There’s a galactic war going on between the alien civilizations Krees and the Skrulls. Danvers loses her memory and gains unparalleled powers during an accident while being caught between the ongoing war. The story of the film has borrowed elements from the 1971 Marvel comics run titled “Kree-Skrull War” by Roy Thomas. The film came out just a month before Avengers: Endgame and still grossed over a billion dollars at the box office. It also became the first female-led superhero movie to cross $1 billion in grosses. The huge box office also led to it becoming the 23rd highest-grossing film of all time. Releasing on March 8, 2019, the film received praise for the cast’s performances.

Captain Marvel Cast and Release Date
Jude Law plays Yon-Rogg, a mentor to Vers (Danvers) and the antagonist of the film.

Captain Marvel — Synopsis and Plot Details

The film starts in 1995, we’re introduced to the alone race of Kree. We meet the Starforce member Vers (Brie Larson) on the Kree Empire’s capital planet of Hala. She is suffering from recurring nightmares about an older woman and she also has amnesia. Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) is her commander and mentor. We then see a training montage where Yon trains Vers to have control of her abilities. Vers then goes to the Supreme Intelligence — an artificial intelligence that rules over the Kree. The Supreme Intelligence advises Vers to not let her emotions get the best of her. Later on, Vers goes on a mission that involves rescuing an undercover operative. The operative was infiltrating a group of Skrulls who are the enemies of the Skrulls. However, during the rescue mission, Vers ends up getting captured by the Skrull commander Talos.

While in captivation, the Skrulls try to probe inside her mind to try and extract intel about her. The probe into her memories reveals that she’s from Earth. Afterward, Vers manages to escape and eventually crashes into Earth, in Los Angeles. This is when we meet our favorite SHIELD agents Nick Fury and Phil Coulson. They are alerted of Vers’ crash landing and go to investigate. However, their investigations are thwarted by a Skrull attack. A chase ensues between the Skrulls Vers with Nick Fury and Phil Coulson also chasing. During their chase, Vers can recover a crystal. She finds out that the crystal contains her memories that yeh Skrulls extracted from her mind back then. Meanwhile, Fury kills a Skrull that was masquerading as Phil Coulson.

Captain Marvel cast and characters
Skrulls arriving on Earth. Captain Marvel (2019).

Talos and Meeting Rambeau

Talos is masquerading behind the disguise of Fury’s boss Keller. He directs Fury to work with Vers and follow her movements and what she’s doing. Vers peeks into her extracted memories. Then she and Fury head off to the Project Pegasus installation at a US Air Force base. There, they discover that Vers was a pilot that has been presumed to be dead since 1989. The cause of her presumed death was an experimental light-speed engine test. The engine was designed by Dr. Wendy, the woman Vers always has in her nightmares. When Fury informs SHIELD about their location, Talos disguised as Keller and a team head out to the location. However, Fury realizes that Keller is Talos in disguise. He then helps Vers escape in a cargo jet with Lawson’s cat Goose stowing along.

Fury and Vers then fly off to Louisiana, where the former pilot Maria Rambeau lives. She’s the last person that saw Vers before her “death”. There, Carol learns about her real identity when Rambeau and her daughter Monica reveal that she’s Carol Danvers. They also tell her how she was like family to them. Talos then arrives at the house but he’s unarmed. He tells them that Skrulls are refugees and are searching for a new home. He also reveals that Lawson was a Kree scientist named Mar-Vel who was helping them rehabilitate and evade the Kree. Talos then pulls out a recording he recovered from Lawson’s jet. He then asks Danvers to remember the blast that presumedly killed her. Danvers remembers the crash and it all comes back to her. She remembers how Yon-Rogg killed Lawson before she could destroy the engine to keep it away from the Kree.

Captain Marvel Characters
Carol Danvers with her friend Monica Rambeau at the Air Force base.

Remembering the Past and Becoming Captain Marvel

Danvers also remembers how she then went on to destroy the engine herself. She managed to destroy the engine, with the explosion emanating a powerful surge of energy. The energy causes Danvers to gain powers but also results in her memory loss. Danvers, Fury, Talos, and Rambeau then head off to find Lawson’s laboratory and successfully locate it. The laboratory is orbiting the Earth and, as they find out, houses Skrull refugees, including Talos’ family. The lab also houses the Tesseract, the power source, and an infinity stone. However, the Starforce arrives and captures Danvers. They connect her to the Supreme Intelligence. Danvers then removes the Kree implant they had placed inside her to suppress her powers. With the removed implant, Danvers reaches her full potential. The battle ensues and Fury saves Goose the cat, who he later discovers is an alien called Flerken.

Goose then swallows the Tesseract and claws at Fury’s left eye, scratching it. We find out that this what gave him his eye patch. Meanwhile, Danvers decimates a Kree bomber, forcing Ronan the Accuser to retreat. Ronan, as we know, appears in 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy. And then back in Earth, Danvers fights Yon-Rogg and easily beats him. She then sends him back to Hala, telling him to warn the Supreme Intelligence. After that, she flies off to help Skrulls find a new abode. She leaves Fury with a pager so that he can contact her in case of an emergency. Meanwhile, Fury comes up with the idea for an initiative for heroes like Danvers to come together to defend Earth. He names the initiative after Carol’s Air Force call sign, “Avenger”.

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Captain Marvel is an Average MCU Entry with Empowering Themes

Captain Marvel is certainly not a bad film. But it also doesn’t do anything special or out of the ordinary. It mostly folllws the tried and tested MCU formula for an origin movie. All that we watch has already been done before. From the direction to the story to tropes — it feels generic and very safe. There’s rarely a moment of ingenuity, none that I can recall now. Brie’s acting has received accolades from the critic but it didn’t do it for me. It feels flat and her performance keeps giving a conflicted vibe. I don’t know if Brie wants to go for a stoic expression, with stern and strong poise, or a cheerful one that follows the usual Marvel character.

Captain Marvel Real Name
Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers aka the empowering Captain Marvel.

The film grossed over a billion dollars at the box-office worldwide. And even if you don’t like the film, you can understand its appeal and its massive success. It’s the first ever female-led superhero film. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where the earlier phases have been dominated by male superheroes, it was a refreshing change. It also carries a considerable amount of cultural significance, giving girls all over a character they can look up to and resonate with. Watching Captain Marvel punch through ships and decimating villains is not only hype but also empowering to a lot of people. Other than that, however, it’s a pretty by-the-books, standard MCU film.

My rating for Captain Marvel is 2 out of 5.

You can currently stream Captain Marvel on Disney+ Hotstar.