‘Captain Marvel’ Review: Marvel’s Ambitious Origin Film Soars High

It’s felt like forever since Marvel Studios first announced that Carol Danvers was set to make her big screen debut back in 2014. But that wait is finally over. Captain Marvel, which is the twenty-second entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is hitting theaters this weekend and if tracking is any indication, it’s going to be another win for Marvel Studios. But does the studio’s first female-led superhero film starring Brie Larson soar high or crash into the ground? Well, got a spoiler-free review for you. Let’s go.

Before we dive into the actual review, here’s a little backstory for those who might be a tad unfamiliar with the character. Initially, Carol Danvers appeared in Marvel Comics in the 1960s as an acquaintance of Doctor Walter Lawson who was the human alias of the original Captain Marvel. Following an accident where she is exposed to Kree technology, she gains powers and later resurfaces as the character Ms. Marvel. And obviously a lot happened after that but we’re going to flash forward to 2012. In July 2012, Carol Danvers assumed the mantle of Captain Marvel in a new series which was written by Kelly Sue DeConnick with art by Dexter Soy. That’s where the Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck film drew heavy inspiration from. While it does change that story up a bit, fans of that run are likely going to be extremely happy walking out of this film.

Despite some very minor issues, Captain Marvel is an absolute blast from start to finish. It’s action-packed and also a lot funnier than I expected it to be. One issue some might have though is that Captain Marvel isn’t exactly told in a completely linear method. It’s a method that both works and doesn’t, so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. While I can commend the ambition on display here, I can’t deny that the directing is a bit wobbly at times. If you’re expecting a normally structured “hero’s journey” style origin story, I’m going to tell you that isn’t what you’re getting here. But once you’ve seen the film as a whole, you kind of understand why they went the route that they did. There are a lot of surprises and the method that they chose to tell the film’s story in allows a number of them to remain hidden until they need to be revealed. There’s a lot of things I definitely did not see coming and was glad to be completely wrong about a number of things that I expected to see walking into this one.

As for the film’s stars? Brie Larson is the boss of space. After having seen Captain Marvel, there’s no one else I can imagine as Carol Danvers. She nails everything about the character and knocks the performance out the park. The chemistry between Brie Larson and co-stars Samuel L. Jackson and Lashana Lynch is electric. I’m genuinely hoping that we see them explore the “buddy cop” relationship between Danvers and Fury further in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe because that’s something I left wanting more of. But the film’s major scene stealers? Goose the Cat and Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos. For different reasons that I feel like I shouldn’t dive into because I don’t want to give anything away. I’ll simply say that Talos is by no means the usual villain type that Mendelsohn plays and might leave you very surprised. The character is one of the things I was very wrong about but Mendelsohn crushes it and seemed to have so much fun playing the character that you can tell.

Another of the film’s strengths comes from Pinar Toprak’s score, which has a very synthy sound and really fits the cosmic vibe of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But on the other hand, the film’s soundtrack could be a bit of a weakness. I expected that Captain Marvel would have a fair share of ’90s tracks on its soundtrack but it might have one or two too many which kind of sucked me out at times. There are a few moments where I’d have appreciated more of Toprak’s score instead of a couple of the tracks that were being used. Maybe I’m just upset because there wasn’t any Third Eye Blind on the soundtrack. Guess I’m going to have to rent a couple of billboards and ask Kevin Feige and company about that one. However, the soundtrack being the element of the film that I’m most mixed about isn’t that huge of a deal when it’s all said done.

Overall? Despite a few very minor issues which I stated above, Brie Larson’s first cinematic solo outing as Captain Marvel is an incredibly ambitious Marvel Studios origin film that is funny, action-packed and full of heart. It’s weird in all the right ways and has something for everyone from the most casual of Marvel fans to the die-hards and might require multiple viewings to really soak everything in. Know that I personally can not wait to see Captain Marvel again and more of Brie Larson as Carol Danvers in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Throw on your best ’90s attire, grab some popcorn and strap in. Higher. Further. Faster. More.

Rating: 8.5/10

The Superhero Movies Of 2018, Ranked From Worst To Best

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Superhero Cinema 2018 Black Panther Avengers Thanos The Incredibles Aquaman2018 has gone by too fast. It seems like yesterday when the beginning of the new year was upon us, and the advent of having so many superhero movies hitting theaters seemed like a dream come true for every fanboy and fangirl. It's also funny to look back and remember that although we ended up with a whopping nine major theatrical superhero movies, we almost had eleven. Sadly, Fox delayed both Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants to 2019 instead.

Even with those two films delayed, 2018 was still a massive year not just at the box office, but for the continued advancement of the genre on a number of levels. Whether it was through the cultural significance of a film like Black Panther or the exciting animated adventures of Incredibles 2 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, there was no shortage of exciting superhero stories told on the big screen this year.

Here are the theatrical superhero films of 2018, ranked from worst to best. You can start the gallery by clicking "Next."

9. Venom Venom Tom Hardy Eddie Brock Marvel Sony

Yeah, Venom is an interesting film to say the least. Many have doubted Sony and their plans to create their own universe centered on Spider-Man villains that is said to be "adjacent" to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially after what happened with their proposed plans for a shared universe set within the canon of Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man films.

What director Ruben Fleischer brought to audiences is this bizarre, clunky, yet surprisingly entertaining throwback to the early 2000s era of superhero cinema. It has major narrative and technical flaws that keep it from being legitimately a "good" film beyond some moments of ironic brilliance, but Tom Hardy's performance is one of the most entertaining comic book movie performances put on screen in a long time.

8. Ant-Man and the WaspAnt-Man and the Wasp Avengers 4 Marvel

It's pretty hard to follow in the footsteps of such a massive crossover event like Avengers: Infinity War, but the microscopic (yes, pun intended) scale of Ant-Man and the Wasp is a nice lighthearted cleanser after witnessing Thanos' decimation. It falls short of its 2015 predecessor, but director Peyton Reed still brings in some entertaining sequences that are a nice blend of action and comedy.

Both Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly have great chemistry, and the entire climactic chase sequence is pure delight.

7. Deadpool 2Deadpool 2 X-Force Fox

2016's Deadpool was the surprise hit of that year. While many hardcore comic book fans were excited to finally see a proper iteration of the Merc with a Mouth, the industry was particularly surprised by how mainstream audiences embraced Ryan Reynolds as the beloved antihero of the Marvel Universe.

Deadpool 2 continues that trend of self-aware comedy mixed in with the badass action directed by David Leitch. Unfortunately, the film falls into some of the trappings of a "more of the same" type of sequel, but put on a bigger scale. The film certainly could've benefited from a more clever script beyond just making everything bigger than the first. While the film never recaptures that lightning-in-a-bottle that the first film had, it still holds its own with some great character moments and perhaps the best mid-credits scene of all-time.

Plus, the additions of Cable (Josh Brolin) and Domino (Zazie Beetz) add more to the irresistible tone that Deadpool brings to the big screen. Overall, a decent sequel.

6. Teen Titans GO! To the Movies

Teen Titans GO! To The Movies

It's kind of funny that Teen Titans GO! To The Movies is as entertaining as it is. Sure, the film is still targeted towards younger children that tune into the series on Cartoon Network, but the film is a surprisingly clever send-up of both the superhero movie genre as well as a hilarious tribute to the lore of DC Comics seen through the eyes of the Teen Titans themselves.

Also, the fact that the film ends with a stinger that teases the possible return of the original Teen Titans series justifies its existence in more ways than one.

5. Aquaman Aquaman

Aquaman is a much-needed win for the DC Extended Universe. The franchise received its biggest win in 2017 with Wonder Woman but unfortunately hit a massive roadblock with the disappointing Justice League. As it turns out, all the DCEU needed to do to get back in the right direction was to add water and filmmaker James Wan into the mix.

Wan really goes all out with this film. This is a visually stunning adventure film on both land and sea that really leans into the inherently cheesy nature of the character while simultaneously turning Aquaman into perhaps the most badass superhero in the DCEU thus far.

Some may be turned off by how campy Aquaman can get at points, but it's hard not to get swept up into the fun when you have Jason Momoa having the time of his life.

4. Incredibles 2incredibles-2-pixar-disney

It has been 14 years since we were last acquainted with the Incredibles. Thankfully, they haven't missed a beat even after that long, long wait for the most-requested Pixar sequel of all-time.

It's great to see Brad Bird bounce back with this exciting sequel after the earnest, yet disappointing mess that was Tomorrowland. Here, Bird is back on his element as a brilliant storyteller and is adept at further developing these characters.

Seeing the entire family in these hilarious and death-defying circumstances is so enthralling, particularly in the film's climax. Also, everything involving Jack-Jack and Edna Mode are some of the funniest sequences of animation that Pixar has ever done.

3. Avengers: Infinity WarAvengers Infinity War Thanos Marvel Studios

What else is there that needs to be said about this 2018 film? It really is the most ambitious crossover event in cinematic history, and it has sparked an entire year-long conversation about what our surviving heroes will be doing next after all the chaos.

Anthony and Joe Russo accomplished the near-impossible task of balancing out dozens of larger-than-life characters in this kaleidoscope of comic book beauty that leads to some of the most epic battles ever brought to the big screen.

Also, with Avengers: Endgame on the horizon, it's going to be interesting if that film has a moment that tops the pure awesomeness that is the scene in which Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) arrive on the battlefield in Wakanda.

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-VerseSpider-Man Into the Spider-Verse

Who would've thought that an animated Spider-Man movie that features Spider-Noir and Spider-Ham on the big screen would be the best film centered on the webhead since Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2?

Leave it to the minds of Phil Lord and Chris Miller along with the incredible creative team to bring us a true love letter to the character that would make Stan Lee and Steve Ditko proud. Yes, Peter Parker will always be our original Spidey, but this film proves that the best part about being Spider-Man is the fact that he/she can come from anywhere despite their personal background and circumstances.

1. Black PantherBlack Panther Marvel Disney Ryan Coogler

As big as Avengers: Infinity War was, it's harder to find a 2018 movie that has had as big of an impact on the popular culture than Black Panther. But beyond the cultural significance that comes with such a film, Ryan Coogler crafted a powerful, touching story about legacy, family, principles, power and purpose.

It's hard to log onto the internet sometimes because the world is in such a chaotic place. But Black Panther represents the power of storytelling and why seeing more diverse characters and stories on the big screen matters.

Films like Black Panther remind us about the power of cinema. It can unite audiences together despite their differences and can also inspire us to be better people. All those reasons and more are why Black Panther is the best superhero film of 2018.

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Shawn Madden

Shawn Madden

I write stuff. Sometimes.