With vague memories of a previous life as an Air Force pilot, Carol Danvers is also known as Vers, an intergalactic warrior in service to the Kree’s Starforce who is being pursued by Skrulls, a shape-shifting alien race and the earliest of Marvel’s alien races. Set in 1995, Captain Marvel, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, is both a prequel to Marvel’s Avengers and also the lead-in to that franchise’s upcoming conclusion, Endgame.
Touted as Marvel’s first female superhero to lead her own film, Carol Danvers wasn’t even the first woman to hold the title. But with little to no character development besides Brie Larson’s blank expression, in light of a hemorrhage of mid ’90s nostalgia, there could’ve been so much more at play than sequential redundant chase scenes.
The rubber band snaps between alien ships and earthbound Star Trek: The Voyage Home dialog about slow-loading CD-ROMs and laser tag, all while No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” provides the backbeat to a beatdown!
There have been five or six origins for characters named Captain Marvel. In the 1940s, Fawcett Publications introduced “The World’s Mightiest Mortal,” aka “The Big Red Cheese,” featuring the orphaned Billy Batson who uttered the word SHAZAM! to become his adult counterpart, Captain Marvel. DC Comics sued them out of business, thus ending the golden age of comic books. In the ’60s, Marvel Comics saw potential in ownership of the name, and to keep their copyright intact introduced a green helmeted Kree spy Captain Mar-Vell in 1968 (who appears in the film, played by Annette Bening). He died of cancer but inspired a female hero named Ms. Marvel (who was Carol Danvers and would later rechristen herself as Warbird). Confused? Just wait… Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) is a pilot friend of Danvers in the movie who has a daughter named Monica Rambeau (played in the movie by two sisters, Akira and Azari Akbar) who later became the first female hero to be called Captain Marvel in the 1980s!
And you can’t seem to tell who’s who without a score card as both Korath the Persuer (Djimon Hounsou) and Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), last seen in Guardians of the Galaxy, make a return in Captain Marvel.
Part of the problem here is a lackluster attempt to make everything hinge on Brie Larson as some iconic female character (no, that’s Wonder Woman) and present her story as a backdrop to some massive intergalactic battle that defines tomorrow’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. But if that was the case, then the opening scene should’ve had The Vision claiming to have been killed by…cows!
What resulted is a movie of missed opportunities.
There’s no foreshadowing of the Marvel Universe to come other than a pre-S.H.I.E.L.D. Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) pondering what designation he should use for his pet project. There should’ve been references made to the world without Marvel heroes. What I would’ve given to see in the background the slithering image of Fin Fang Foom!
Captain Marvel isn’t a bad movie. It’s just a throwback to the way comic book movies were made prior to Iron Man, where special effects made up for watered down, hard-to-follow plotlines.
Just think what could’ve been had Marvel Studios shelved the entire Carol Danvers story and focused its film entirely on Monica and Goose! “Shazam!”