‘Captain Marvel’ review: Brie Larson a bright spot in lackluster Marvel movie

Brie Larson stars in "Captain Marvel," the first Marvel film to headline a female hero. Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

Orange kitty Goose is purr-fect and steals the show.

Brie Larson stars in "Captain Marvel," the first Marvel film to headline a female hero.
Brie Larson stars in "Captain Marvel," the first Marvel film to headline a female hero. Photo Credit: Liz Clayman

Captain Marvel

Directed by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch, Jude Law

Rated PG-13

It’s been a long time coming for Marvel to launch a film with a female lead, and the mighty Captain Marvel is certainly a hero fans can get behind, even if the movie starring here comes up short.

Really, one has to wonder what took the company so long, especially with Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow stealing scenes and kicking butt beginning all the way back in 2010 with “Iron Man 2.”

Effectively a prologue for the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe that hit the big screen beginning in 2008 with the first “Iron Man," “Captain Marvel” takes place at some point in the mid-’90s, featuring a digitally rejuvenated Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg, who has continued playing the character on ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) in their nascent days at the agency.

Captain Marvel was first referenced in an end credits scene at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War,” when a soon-to-dissipate Nick Fury clicks a widget with her logo on it, calling her in to help save to day. 

The always great Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull Talos in "Captain Marvel."
The always great Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull Talos in "Captain Marvel." Photo Credit: Marvel Studios / Chuck Zlotnick

But all that’s secondary to the new galactic space hero, multiple alien races and copious amounts of back story.

The eponymous lead, aka Carol Danvers (or Vers), played by Oscar winner Brie Larson, is on Hala, the home world of the Kree. She’s training with her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), who is trying to help her harness her fiery powers.

Her memory is spotty at best, for reasons that we will not get into here, but she knows the Kree are battling the Skrulls, who are shape-shifters that have to be stopped by the Kree’s “noble warrior heroes.”

When she is captured by some Skrulls (including de facto leader Talos, played by the great Ben Mendelsohn), she escapes to Earth, where she is in search of a woman she keeps seeing in flashbacks.

You will fall in love with the cuddly kitty Goose in "Captain Marvel."
You will fall in love with the cuddly kitty Goose in "Captain Marvel." Photo Credit: Marvel Studios

From there, it’s the old friends-become-enemies, enemies-become-friends routine as Vers realizes that she had a life on earth and even close pals (including pilot Maria Rambeau and her daughter Monica, played by Lashana Lynch and Akira Akbar, respectively). And prepare to fall in love with an orange cat named Goose.

The 1990s setting is played for laughs — what kooky people we were back then, with our grunge clothing, pagers and Blockbusters, waiting minutes and minutes for files to load on our computers. And the soundtrack plays like a "Now That’s What I Call Music" compilation that you would find at the Sam Goody at the mall.

The film does not really elevate beyond the space hero tropes it is built on — it’s a standard hero’s origin story. That’s not to say it isn’t well executed, but we’re living in a post-“Black Panther” world, and the superhero movie has been forever transformed. "Captain Marvel" offers some fun surprises and twists, but it unfolds in a predictable way.

Larson is a joy to watch on screen, funny and tough, and the supporting cast is rock solid. But the surrounding world doesn’t feel as developed, especially when you consider the potential in the alien world being depicted. Wakanda, this is not.

Scott A. Rosenberg