By Bradley Lane
Captain Marvel marks the 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In such a long-running series, Marvel must work hard to constantly improve and update the look and feel of its films. Unfortunately, Captain Marvel seems like a step backwards after last year’s sprawling Superhero epic, Avengers: Infinity War. Infinity War’s greatest achievement lies within its script. The script had to balance every single character’s specific arcs with the larger story told throughout, which means the script must have been watertight. Which makes Captain Marvel even more disappointing because its script is an absolute mess.
Captain Marvel follows the story of Vers, an alien soldier fighting against the tyranny of the Skrulls. The Skrulls are an alien race able to disguise themselves as any life form making them almost impossible to detect as they infiltrate and destroy entire planets’ civilizations. Through a chance happenstance, Vers becomes stranded on Earth during the mid-1990s. Through her time on Earth, she begins to question her allegiances, motivations and even her own identity.
Captain Marvel’s script struggles with dialogue, character development and especially story cohesion. The dialogue in Captain Marvel is clunky. Often conversations seemed forced and awkwardly worded. However, the banter between Nick Fury and Vers is an exception and is a pleasure to watch them verbally spar with one another. Their interactions feel like a 90s buddy cop flick, which serves to add to the 90s nostalgia the film aims to convey.
Regrettably, the film struggles to carve out who exactly Captain Marvel is as a character. She’s witty and fun, but in the writer’s quest to make as strong a character as possible they neglected to make her flawed in any meaningful ways. The relatability to a hero is within their flaws and how they work through them, not their heroics alone. This leaves Captain Marvel feeling less like a full character and more like a caricature. This does not aid the fact that the film also struggles to keep all the parts of its story under control. I appreciate the ambition of the filmmakers to attempt to shift audience perspective later in the film, but its lack of subtlety and slew of allegorical messaging gets lost and muddy among flimsy metaphor and unrelated story ideas.
It isn’t all bad though; despite this, Captain Marvel remains entertaining through some action sequences and excellent production design. In stark contrast to the fake feeling, green screen created alien worlds, the 1990s setting on Earth feels fully realized and is used in both humorous and inventive ways. The cast’s performances were also a strong point despite being handicapped by the lackluster script. Brie Larson, Ben Mendleson and Samuel L. Jackson all commit wholeheartedly to their roles and it shows in the final product.
Captain Marvel is yet another only passable entry to the MCU, which is even more disappointing considering with a better script it could have been something worth marveling.