BEIRUT: With all the hype that’s surrounding Marvel’s first female super hero, it’s truly a shame that any form of proper criticism would be interpreted as sexist, or narrow-minded, especially since this is surely not constructive in any form nor would it lead to fruitful conversations regarding the industry.
With that in mind, CAPTAIN MARVEL doesn’t soar high enough to leave a memorable mark within audiences, though the narrative it presents will surely mark a change in the MCU.
A former officer and Air Force test pilot, Carol Danvers becomes the universe's most powerful hero when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races, the Kree and the Skrulls. Danvers is a rebel and not easily controlled, but through her journey she finds her true self and the path to harness her incredible powers.
On one side, the narrative suggested sounds like quite an exciting concept filled with intrigue, epic battles, and intense suspenseful sequences – yet, what we are offered is a bland plotline that is not subtle, and never once engages enough for the audience to care about any of the players within the frame.
The film’s biggest flaw is its core: Carol Danvers.
The character is far from well-written, with humor seeming forced, and activist slugline dialogue robotically spoken, which ultimately hindered Academy Award winner Brie Larson’s performance as the titular character.
It’s almost as if the writers decided to strip away the charm, the sass, and the power, and focus simply on brute strength.
A character that is supposed to be known for her wit as much as her power is exhibited punching her way through countless hordes of baddies and space shuttles.
If the defense of this is “well male super-heroes do it all the time, so why not a female superhero,” the point is being missed.
Danvers should have been given more layers, more characters, and a much stronger and worthier character arc, instead of this flat, uncharismatic arc without proper evolution – no, the fact that all she has to do is break the metaphorical glass ceiling and destroy the patriarchy is not enough of evolution.
Moving along, the surrounding characters are also not given anything of interest to play with.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) doesn’t seem phased that shape-shifting aliens exist and it takes one scene to convince him.
Agent Colson (Clark Gregg) is immediately loyal to Fury even though he’s a rookie and an opportunity to play with the character.
Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), who many have praised, is a two-dimensional humanitarian mouth-piece that is also a piece of the larger narrative problem.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has gone down the revisionist route by choosing to place the Kree into the antagonistic, even villainous role and the Skrulls as the victims of war and forced migration.
Though in the comic books, the Kree, Skrulls, and other galactic species are not absolute but more or less on a grey spectrum between good and evil, the films have mostly placed the Kree on the extremist end, and until CAPTAIN MARVEL, the Skrulls were also invaders.
Now, we are witnessing a revelation that the Skrulls are not “terroritsts” but “refugees” – a clear political parallel with our current global climate.
Visually the film does offer some entertaining sequences, yet Marvel films continue to struggle with CGI as some moments are downright cartoony – maybe collaborating with the folks from Lucasfilms and ILM could help.
The film’s editing is sharp and tight, especially in relation to Danvers’ fragmented mind.
One moment that does stand out, though a moment that was also spoiled in the trailer, is the crosscut sequence of Carol failing and standing up post-failing at different stages in her life.
The most memorable and charming element in the entire film is a ginger cat by the name of Goose, who’s revealed to be an alien species called Flerken.
Though the film was said to be a film of self-discovery and one that would shock as CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER did, it falls short of being anything that intriguing.
With Marvel Studios now pushing further into the realm of diversity, inclusion, and being noble warrior heroes, it could end up with a similar fate as its comic book counterpart.
At the end of the day, CAPTAIN MARVEL’s few entertaining sequences can’t save it from being the clichéd, overly political and revisionist version of itself.
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