Captain Marvel

In Cinemas Now

Oscar winner Brie Larson is Captain Marvel in Marvel's first female-fronted superhero movie, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Mississippi Grind). Samuel L. Jackson co-stars as 90s-era Nick Fury, along with Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg and Jude Law. 

Set in the 1990s in a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the film follows Carol Danvers (Larson) as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes. While a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth, Danvers finds herself and a small group of allies at the centre of the maelstrom.

There’s a hell of a lot of pressure on Captain Marvel’s shoulders ahead of the release of Avengers: Endgame next month. Not only did co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck need to introduce the MCU’s most powerful and crucially important hero, but they had to do so in the shadow of a film that will pick up after the death of half the universe. In exploring Captain Marvel’s origins with a mysterious, slightly non-linear narrative; following a space war to mid-90s Earth (a "sh-thole" in an alien's timely description); and having a perfectly-cast Brie Larson as its self-possessed and cheeky hero known initially as Vers, the results excel in keeping us riveted—for better or worse—on the film at hand, at least until its closing moments.

Getting “or worse” out of the way, the time period Captain Marvel takes place in is hammered home incessantly with an over-the-top number of cultural, wardrobe and technological references and sight gags. Most serve as jokes, and the majority of these land, but when paired with a soundtrack that (not always unwelcomely) features the likes of Elastica, Garbage and No Doubt frequently blaring, it’s hard to escape the feeling of “ok, we get it!” And, disappointingly, one action sequence towards the end of the film features music so on-the-nose that Captain Marvel could have shared a music supervisor with Suicide Squad (whereas you get the sense the overall idea is to shift as many soundtrack units as Guardians of the Galaxy).

Then again, there are so many different ways the film earns goodwill. As an origin story of sorts for Nick Fury, we get to see Samuel L. Jackson in possibly the first truly successful example of digital de-ageing (sorry, Temuera Morrison), and the team-up between Fury and Vers is perhaps the strongest of many enjoyable relationships depicted for the title character throughout the film. Almost as strong as Fury’s relationship with the crowd-pleasing cat Goose (who—while never mistreated—is the source of a couple of gags reliant on CGI that suggests there wasn’t much budget left after spaceships, superheroics and Jackson’s face). Speaking of faces, Ben Mendelsohn does scene-stealingly great comic and dramatic work through the facial prosthetics and makeup transforming him into a Skrull, with his Australian accent alone responsible for a bunch of laughs.

It’s Brie Larson’s film, though, and she revels in the opportunities afforded by writers and directors to depict a female hero that’s not a dude fantasy/emotionless killing machine—which seem to be the traditional female action staples. A butt-kicker with agency and EQ, and now convincingly the most powerful hero in the MCU, Captain Marvel’s introduction succeeds to the level where her point-proving triumph over the enemy and a sudden reappearance towards the end of the film will make you want to cheer, relegating most of the film’s more uneven moments to footnotes.

Variety (USA)

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They have brought off something exciting, embracing the Marvel house style and, within that, crafting a tale with enough tricks and moods and sleight-of-hand layers to keep us honestly absorbed.

Total Film (UK)

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A satisfying standalone launch for Marvel’s latest superhero combines sci-fi action with ’90s nostalgia. Overcoming minor stumbles, it ultimately soars.

Telegraph (UK)

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This is the first in a while that I’ve found myself immediately hungry to revisit.

Empire (UK)

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As a Nick Fury buddy comedy, it’s fun. As a feminist fable it’s essential. This takes a while to really get going, but when Carol Danvers takes off she is unstoppable.

Guardian (UK)

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An entertaining new part of the saga.

Time Out New York

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Brie Larson isn't given enough to do in a Marvel movie that marinates in '90s nostalgia but doesn't quite rise to the occasion of its own significance.

NZ Herald (Dominic Corry)

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Nicely balancing the Earth-bound elements with epic cosmic action, Captain Marvel is yet another winner from the house of M.

Stuff.co.nz (Graeme Tuckett)

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With the inevitable bombast and posturing of Avengers: Endgame to come, this is a great way to remember just how much fun a comic-book movie could and should still be.
PercyM

PercyM

user


Mostly marvellous.

You will Marvel at it's heartfelt characters, feel-good tale and (most of its) visuals and action sequences...as soon as she fires up.


Not quite a marvel

But a solid origin story, with charm and heart. Action directing was average, and would have loved a bit more of a "Top Gun" vibe in the aerial action. But enjoyable, and I'm sure very inspiring for younger viewers.


A good start for Marvel's first female led film.

This film had some surprisingly great comedic moments, and Larson & Jackson's chemistry was lovely to watch. I think any marvel fan will enjoy this but especially females that finally get to see a film centered around a female character .

Also some really great 90's throwbacks/references.


Good but hardly a Marvel

A good, not great, entry into the Marvel Universe. Some decent comedic moments lift what is otherwise a pretty generic origin story. Film-goers will be rewarded with a neat Endgame tie-in. Let's just hope Brie Larson's Captain Marvel can establish herself as something more unique in coming entries.