‘Captain Marvel’: Good but not great

Written by Ryan Sheehan

“Captain Marvel” has a very interesting plot. However, to avoid spoilers, this opening synopsis will be kept vague.

Set as a prequel to the rest of the MCU movies, the film is based off a Marvel Comics character who was never very popular. Captain Marvel, played by Brie Larson, is a Kree warrior, a powerful alien race that has been established in previous Marvel films. Her latest mission against the Skrull leads her to planet Earth.

Taking place in the 1990s, Captain Marvel tries to investigate a mystery and comes across S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury. Younger and still having both eyes, the movie becomes kind of a buddy cop comedy as Captain Marvel and Fury try to work together.

Due to the ‘90s setting, this movie is very similar to “Ready Player One” as both have a strong focus on pop culture nostalgia. In “Captain Marvel,” plenty of references are made. But there is a difference between “Captain Marvel” and “Ready Player One.” “Ready Player One’s” use of pop culture was painful, constantly beating you over the head with it. Looking back on it, there wasn’t much to the movie. Take away the pop culture and what do you have? Just a mediocre movie. But for “Captain Marvel,” that isn’t the case. Its use of pop culture doesn’t feel forced or annoying.

After leaving the theater, I was talking to a friend of mine. I asked him why the references worked in this movie and not in “Ready Player One?” Basically, he said, “Captain Marvel” didn’t seem to focus on pop culture. Thinking back to it, what he said was right. Sure, there are a bunch of references, maybe too many, but the focus of the film doesn’t stay on that.

Even though Nick Fury is practically a different person in this movie, it works in the end. It’s interesting to see him here as a wise-cracking, light-hearted low-level agent. Implying that he became a more cynical spymaster later in life, though Fury did keep a bit of his sense of humor.

There is no doubt that “Captain Marvel” adds backstory to the MCU that was never in mind when the early movies were made. “Captain Marvel” does retcon some things, which is when established facts in a fictional series are changed or ignored. Of course, Marvel Comics has been known to retcon facts on occasion. Most of the changes work, while some feel dumb. Like the story of how Nick Fury loses his eye. It’s dumb, but it also works when you think about it.

The changes may not be necessary and they do seem to contradict certain things from the first MCU films, but they aren’t bad changes. In fact, the changes made with the Kree and the Skrull from their comic book counterparts was a nice addition. If anything, the changes help make the Marvel Cinematic Universe feel a little more like a universe.

Captain Marvel is the heart of this movie. What really sells her character is her personality. Although she can feel a little inconsistent at times, Captain Marvel is a solid character. No matter what the situation is, she is sarcastic, good-humored and dead serious when the time comes for it.

She’ somewhat like John McClane from the “Die Hard” series. As McClane would do, despite all the crazy stuff going on around her, Captain Marvel still acts like Captain Marvel. She never suddenly acts funny out of nowhere, giving us forced comedic relief. She acts like who she is.

It’s worth mentioning that the Skrull are good characters as well.

Like the Russos did with “Civil War” and “Infinity War,” directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck know their audience and know how to mislead their expectations. “Captain Marvel” is clever on how it messes with you, and in a good way.

“Captain Marvel” does have some missteps. It can feel inconsistent, has a few weak scenes, the feminist message can be annoying at times because how obvious it is and there’s probably a plothole or two. It is a good movie. It’s just not one of the best from the MCU. It’s a solid entry, that is able for the most part balance several genres, being part space fantasy, action and buddy cop comedy.

As the spinoff “Solo” was for the Star Wars Franchise, “Captain Marvel” is an entertaining movie, but, to be honest, it’s not a movie you have to watch as a fan of MCU. So before “Avengers: Endgame” rolls out, don’t feel you have to watch “Captain Marvel.” Though, I would recommend it.

7.5/10

PS: I’ve been pumped to see “Endgame” for the past few months.