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TAS Reviews: Captain Marvel (Spoiler Free)

TAS Reviews: Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel is a big deal. The interconnected nature of the MCU makes essentially every movie necessary viewing, but there's a lot going for Captain Marvel that sets it above the rest in terms of interest. For one, it's the first ever female-led movie in the MCU. Second, characters inhibiting the MCU such as Nick Fury, Phil Coulson and Ronan The Accuser would be making appearances. Third of all, it's the final MCU film before Endgame. And last, but not least, Captain Marvel is being poised by many as the next flagship character of the of the MCU and leader of the Avengers, and Kevin Fiege has made it clear on several occasions that Carol would play a significant role in Endgame.

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Going into Captain Marvel, the most important thing for me was that they got the character right. Granted, I would love a great movie, but so long as they made me care for and love spending time with Carol, I would be satisfied. The rest would just be icing on the cake. With that in mind: did they succeed in making me care about Carol? Is Captain Marvel a great film? Is it a bad one? Did they manage to create yet another compelling origin story 21 movies in?

Thankfully, Marvel succeeded in crafting yet another solid protagonist in Carol Danvers. I don't know how they make it look so effortless, but from the moment Carol appeared on screen, I was drawn to her. I was drawn to Brie Larson's charisma, I was drawn to her determination, which is often her strength, but oftentimes a crutch, and most importantly, I wanted to spend more time in her. The film is centered a lot on Carol not being entirely sure who she is, and gradually uncovering more about her origin and putting together the pieces of the puzzle. For that type of story to work, we needed to be invested in this character. We needed to be interested in her origins. And I'm confident to say that Marvel succeeded in flying colours, and it results in a story-arc that feels personal and adds a layer of mystery that isn't commonplace in the MCU. Carol's arc in this movie, and how she grows in terms of demeanour and motivation, is in my opinion, amongst the most powerful in the MCU.

There are a couple of twists and reveals throughout the movie, and each twist feels in service to the plot and characters as opposed to cheap thrills. Because the nature of these twists are often in relation to Carol's origins, we get to experience the surprises with her, creating a beautiful display of empathy from the audience to the protagonist. Whereas thrusting audiences into a movie with a protagonist who has no idea who they are could've been alienating, it only brings us closer to her.

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In addition, this movie is elevated by a strong supporting cast. I mentioned that a big selling point of this movie was seeing Samuel L. Jackson as a younger Fury, and Jackson delivers in every step of the way. It would've been so easy for him to step into the role once again, play the same ole' character we all know and love, and call it a day, but instead, he managed to create a version of Nick Fury that is true to the spirit of the one we've grown to love, but instil him with mannerisms and traits that create a three-dimensional portrait of a Fury who is much younger and a lot more idealistic. Everyone from Jude Law's Yon-Rogg, to Ben Mendelsohn's Talos, and Lashana Lynch's Maria, gave solid performances, but above all, what made these characters and actors stand-out, is how each played a significant role in enriching the world and characters with depth. I mentioned the focal point of the movie is Carol's growth, and it's her relationship with each individual character that defines her growth throughout the narrative.

With all there is to praise in Captain Marvel, I also had a lot of issues with this movie. I'm still unsure Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were the best choices to direct this movie, as a lot of the film's issues stem from their lacklustre direction. To put it simply, the most interesting parts of the film are treated with equal level of importance as the less significant parts of the movie, resulting in a film that feels monotonous, and is lacking from the spectacle and wonderment deserving of such a movie.

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The final act of the movie is disappointing. There's a surprising absence of memorable action sequences throughout a majority of the movie, and just I was waiting for the final act to deliver, it stops abruptly. It's within the final act of the movie where two moments take place that explain the origin of two things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and both of them were unsatisfying answers to questions that no one asked. If you're still not sure what I mean, think along the lines of the scene in Solo: A Star Wars Story which gave us the origin of Han Solo's name, even though it ended up being utterly cheesy, and most of us would've been happy to never find out how he got his name.

Last of all, if you go in expecting to get a lot of Ronan The Accuser and Phil Coulson, you will be left disappointed. I didn't care much for Ronan going in, but I was excited to see Coulson, and I was surprised just how little we got of him. I'm not exaggerating when I say he probably had 5 minutes of screentime total, and I can barely remember anything he said. I mentioned that I loved Carol's character, but Brie Larson surprisingly struggled during some emotional moments, which didn't take away from the character in any significant way, but did pull me out of the movie at times.

The MCU has delivered movies that I believe belong in the upper echelon of the genre. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, among others, stand out as some of my favourite superhero movies ever made. Even if you don't love all of these movies with the same enthusiasm that I do, it's hard to argue against the consistency the MCU has delivered on in over a decade. Captain Marvel is yet another testament to the MCU's ability to continue delivering on satisfying movie going experiences, but it is not a testament to their ability to deliver great films. It shows that they can take a cat called Goose and make them a standout character, but we already know Marvel can do that. After all, they turned a cloak into a standout character in Doctor Strange. But after the shock and significance of the dusting in Infinity War, you'd hope for a little more.

It's missing the sense of importance, scale and climax that results in movies like Infinity War or The Winter Soldier. A movie about Captain Marvel, who is supposed to be the most powerful MCU hero and who will play a significant role in Avengers: Endgame, should be as exciting as those movies, but instead, it only feels a little more significant than Ant-Man and The Wasp, but without the commitment to light hearted fun of that movie. It's a solid movie elevated by a charismatic lead, a strong central character arc, and a great supporting cast, but it won't blow you away. Not every movie needs to, but if any movie felt like should've, it was this one. And it didn't. I opened up this review by saying that Captain Marvel is a big deal, and I'll end it by saying it didn't feel like one. It is a good one, though.

Score: 7/10

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