OK. I’m a big enough man to admit when I’m wrong.
“Captain Marvel” is the 21st installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first film to feature Brie Larson as the titular hero. Samuel L. Jackson also stars as a younger version of his Nick Fury character (that’s to the wonders of de-aging technology), along with Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg and Jude Law; Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck direct.
So there has been a lot of talk surrounding this film for the past year and — because it’s 2019 and nothing makes sense anymore — most of the talk is dumb and holds no weight. Larson and co-director Boden have been on record multiple times stating that this is a feminist film, and that made large groups of Twitter trolls spam the comments sections online. Conversely, trolls of the polar side attacked anyone who pointed out the objectively bland (and widely criticized) trailers for the film, which were all stale and didn’t do Larson any favors selling the character. I was very vocal with my distaste for the trailers and, like many people, was nervous about the film and character’s place in the MCU, and am happy to report that most all my fears ended up being irrational.
One of the complaints about the trailers and worries toward the film was Larson. She is an Oscar-winning actress who has also shown her ability to be comedic (“21 Jump Street” and “Trainwreck”); however, in the trailers she came off as cold, stoic and unable to smile. I’m not sure if this was an attempt by Marvel to troll fans or what, but Larson’s performance in the film is actually full of smiles, deadpan one-liners and a range of emotion. She has some nice back-and-forth with Jackson and Law, and on more than one occasion is given the chance to get choked up as a woman trying to figure out her mysterious past.
Speaking of Jackson, the 70-year-old is playing a 45-year-old version of himself. Thanks to de-aging technology, similar to what has been done in previous Marvel films but never to this scale (and what we will see done to Robert de Niro and Al Pacino in “The Irishman”), Jackson appears like he did back in his “Jackie Brown” and “Pulp Fiction” days, and his performance (and the facial recreation) are both entertaining. It looks less convincing on Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson (it looks like a CGI character wearing a human mask), but on Jackson you forget you’re not actually watching a 40-year-old Jackson pretty quick.
Aside from Jackson’s de-aging the effects are typical Marvel, with some designs and fights being really well done and polished and others (namely, green screen) appearing clearly fake to the point of distraction. Also, someone needs to tell the people at Marvel how to light a film set. Nearly all their films (save for “Black Panther”) have no true creative camera angles or lighting aspects, with most scenes taking place in an evenly lit space with a grey hue in a shot-reverse-shot. “Black Panther” took risks and took its time; at the end of the day, “Captain Marvel” just feels like a cookie-cutter film out of the MCU oven.
And there is nothing inherently wrong with that. It surprised me in ways I didn’t think it would, and while I hope she doesn’t suddenly become the face of Marvel and save everyone’s lives single-handedly in “Avengers: Endgame,” I enjoyed Larson’s turn as a not-so-well-known superhero. Is it forgettable? Probably. Is it as good, memorable or inspirational as the likes of a “Wonder Woman”? Not for me, at least. But it’s fun, and in a cinematic world where half of life in the universe has been wiped out of existence, maybe a little fun is a good thing.
Critic’s rating: 8 out of 10.