Captain Marvel maybe an intergalactic superhero but her biggest problem is still her inability to keep her emotions in check. From childhood car races to extravagant superhero clashes as a grown-up woman, she is told, “You’re too emotional.” The irony is that her face tells you otherwise. Brie Larson as Captain Marvel is measured and tactfully in control of her expressions, as perhaps a superhero should be. But the film keeps insisting otherwise, in a not-so-subtle attempt at making a feminist statement. And you keep wondering, “Am I missing something?”
That bewilderment grows as the film progresses and ticks all the mandatory boxes of a merchandise-fuelled, amusement park-themed franchise installment. You witness the film passing off Women’s Day WhatsApp forward-esque message of empowerment under the guise of backstories and in an attempt to place Captain Marvel in the larger scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
- Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
- Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law
- Storyline: Caught in an intergalactic war, Carol Danvers becomes Captain Marvel
The thrill of Captain Marvel, for the most part, appears to be working your way backwards. The joy is supposedly in spotting all those nuggets of information that add up to what we know about the MCU and its inhabitants so far. Or worse, waiting till end credits roll to find (more) hints for Avengers: Endgame , which releases in a matter of a couple of months.
There is little to no effort at experimentation or breaking free from the tried-and-tested superhero film model of filmmaking. There is no novelty in the world-building of MCU either — unless the last Marvel film you saw was half a decade ago. The joy then lies in the quieter moments, as the film enters C-53 aka Earth (aka Los Angeles) in 1995 and details a time when computers had just about entered human lives.
It’s amusing to see green aliens made with high-tech visuals use obsolete computer systems and CD drives. Larson, a subtle and sharp actor, shines in these moments and so does an orange cat, Goose. The importance of Captain Marvel in the series is also to provide a window into Nicholas Fury, (Samuel L. Jackson), a character shrouded in mystery. But the obvious digital patchwork done on Jackson to make him look younger and his witty one-liners are more effective and enjoyable than his backstory.
Beyond the portfolio of a superhero, the film makes a tepid attempt at addressing imperialism and refugee crisis, even if it is in a parallel universe. But the motive of evil remains the good old thirst for power — no nuance there. It’s quite amusing to see a cookie-cutter narrative address colonisation when the Marvel franchise itself has, for over a decade, dominated the Hollywood ecosystem.