Going in I was completely unfamiliar with the background of this character which I am led to understand is the single most powerful in Marvel’s super-canon. That’s a heavy burden to lay on a single movie. The power cosmic is difficult to wrap a story around because it requires a solid foundation and a firm explanation for the uninitiated. Part of the issue with Captain Marvel is that it has so much to unpack, so many characters, factions, backstories and powers to explain that the movie’s first half feels like work.
First is the intergalactic war with the shape-shifting Skrulls and the human-looking Kree. The Kree are under the command of something called The Supreme Intelligence (Annette Bening) which I think is a biological collective consciousness that takes the form of the person that you admire the most – this had to be explained to me later. Anyway, Supe rounds up a squad of specialists – each have a particular set of skills. Vers (Oscar winner Brie Larson) is the muscle. Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan) is the sniper. The brain is Yonn-Rogg (Jude Law). And Korath (Djimon Hounsou) is also muscle and a character that we met in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Their assignment (I think) was to save a planet of ruins but then they are forced to take a detour to a planet called C-53 – described as “a real s—hole.” That, of course, is Earth where Vers finds herself crashing into the middle of Blockbuster Video – circa 1995, you see. So now, Captain Marvel is an origin story. Vers hooks up with a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, of course) pre-eye patch and pre-chrome dome whose newly-formed private agency hasn’t quite found its purpose yet.
Much of the story I can’t really describe because then this review would become a short novel. It’s a weird double-flip reverse origin story of how S.H.I.E.L.D. was invented and how Vers came to be known as Captain Marvel. I can say that there are large portions of the movie that I really enjoyed, however . . . I find myself in the position of being the outlaw. While Captain Marvel is a movie steeped in fun girl-power, once again, it is a movie that struggles to get to the point. I sat squirming for the first hour as the movie struggled to find its feet but I can say that I was dazzled by the third act. If that doesn’t sound like a middling review, I don’t know what does.
★★1/2 (of four)