Image: Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson in Captain Marvel © Property of Marvel Studios [Source: IMDB]
Hot off of the tease in the last Infinity War movie but equally accessible for someone who has not seen a single Marvel movie to date. Comes the story of Carol Danvers the latest human possessing superpowers caught between a galactic conflict to prove why she and the studio are worthy of Marvel.
Director: Anna Boden. Ryan Fleck. Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Clark Gregg [12A]
Captain Marvel is a little out of familiar water for Marvel. Not only is it their first female-led film but it’s also a strange moment where they are coming away from the story they have continuously run on to call back to fill in a gap they missed. And sadly it shows that when Marvel out in unfamiliar territory without great talent they fall flat on their faces and brings to mind the superhero movies of the very early 2000s.
Captain Marvel definitely has that feeling of a film out of time, and not just because the film is set in the 90s. But because Marvel uses generic storytelling and dated techniques to deliver an exhausting picture. Firstly is the generic story, a pick and mix of elements from other superhero stories with just a touch of origin tale make this utterly uninteresting. It’s something that could have been told in thirty minutes and don’t get me started on the first half of the movie that is one huge exposition dump about an alien species that is simply put, boring. The writing lacks any wit or charm and instead just goes through the beats of what the intro should be doing, show that the species is warrior based and she has a domineering mentor above her, show she is still weak and has a power she has had to control. I’d have thought a film like Guardians of the Galaxy might have shown Marvel how they can reinvent the origin movie.
But that’s not to say that Guardians was not on their mind. There is a clear attempt in tone to capture some of the spirit of Guardians of the Galaxy, dare I suggest a little bit of tone of Captain America, just maybe a little from Thor with a dash of Iron Man, a sprinkle of Ant-Man and a frosting of Spider-Man. Directionally there has been an effort to incorporate elements from all of these franchise parts and it just, doesn’t, mesh. I, of course, don’t know which directors handled what parts but the second half of the film does pick up some and when Captain Marvel is on earth with Fury and they are going around presumably Area 51, it’s engaging. In fact, it made me really interested in seeing a dedicated Nick Fury movie. Or just this movie but more grounded, Marvel wanted to pull away from the galactic scope of Infinity War – then they should have with an earth-based conflict that could heighten the scope of Thanos’s deviation rather than trivialize it.
This is all goes to cement that Marvel had no confidence in their new heroine and instead tried to mimic elements of other films. I’d suggest that putting two directors behind the film is the icing on the cake of showing their lack of confidence. But I came to the conclusion that there’s a case to be made that Marvel likes to put two directors behind films to blur the lines of auteur theory and instead of attributing the auteur title to the director, in their case it can be the studio. Which they’ve done successfully over the course of their cinematic universe. Sadly though in this reviewers opinion this hurts some of their pictures, Captain Marvel is one such case. It lacks originality, confidence, the signature wit, charisma and interesting story and dialogue. It’s one of Marvel’s blandest films to date.
Still, however, there remains a charming presence throughout. This can all be attributed to Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson who are superb at bringing these characters to life, ensuring our connections to them. Larson, to note, is superb as Captain Marvel and brings a very grounded hero into the mix by not seeming so larger than life, despite the odd mix of directing in which she can sometimes come across as part robot (looking at you end credits sequence).