“Captain Marvel” Lacks Substance


Ada Carter

Captain Marvel was released on March 8th, 2019.

Andrew Mello, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Falcon rating: 3/5


Captain Marvel, the latest entry in the continuing Marvel Cinematic Universe, delivers on about everything you would expect. There’s a hero, splashy costumes, and plenty of action to go around. But despite checking every box, Captain Marvel lacks something at its core, never fulfilling on any of its best aspects.

Suddenly awaking on the alien planet Hala, superpowered Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) has no memory how or why she got there. Working for the galactic Kree as a special agent of sorts, Danvers eventually finds herself kidnapped by the sworn enemies of the Kree: the shapeshifting Skrulls, who attempt to search her mind for the location of a secret weapon. Upon her escape, Danvers finds herself on the front lines of a war between the two alien species, while still digging up her past on Earth. As an alien, she attracts the attention of Special Agent Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who assists in her search for the truth.

The film works best in the scenes between Danvers and Fury. In these scenes, the story quickly becomes a buddy cop adventure with witty banter and very believable chemistry, with both strong-headed personalities butting against each other with quiet, mutual respect. Despite having such a natural duo to head the story, the film separates the two leads, both less than the sum of their parts.

Captain Marvel lacks something at its core, never fulfilling on any of its best aspects.”

While the scenes of interaction between Fury and Danvers are easily the best in the film, the rest can feel lackluster at times and dull at its worst. Much of the action between superpowered characters looks closer to a toy aisle at Target, with about as much impact. The problem with such powerful demonstrations from Danvers is that there’s never a single opponent to match her in strength. She either swats away or lasers every foe she meets, so I found myself tuning out because you always know in your mind that losing isn’t even possible for her.

Despite being mostly formulaic, Captain Marvel clearly shows some attempt to shake up the stale concept of a faceless army of goons. While abrupt, a later break from the formula just before the final act brought me back into the story and gave new context to previously lacking scenes. Though it couldn’t excuse some of the previous hour, the choice intentionally felt quite topical and surprisingly political. Despite the intrigue of this twist, however, it never seemed like the film benefitted from withholding that information, as no sense of tension was maintained. The decision to only unveil the truth towards the end just reinforced a feeling of confusion for a majority of the running time, with the audience feeling a greater state of amnesia than Danvers ever does.

My greatest criticism of Captain Marvel and many other modern blockbusters is the indefinite nature of the story. There’s no real conclusion at the end because the sequel bait has to be strong enough to kickstart a new franchise. The film isn’t made to be a satisfying story because it can’t conclude the story until movie number four. No matter how enjoyable it was seeing a superhero movie in the vein of Tango & Cash, there just isn’t a complete story to be found here. There’s no real word for the feeling I had walking out of Captain Marvel, but the physical reaction was something akin to a shrug.


This piece also appears in our April 2019 print edition.