By Andrew Jenck
Over the past two years, my interest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has dwindled. Not just because Avengers: Endgame just wrapped up an entire era but also because the films have become more stagnant, applying the same formula to almost every sub-franchise with filmmaking becoming more that of an assembly line. Despite its faults, people have always pointed to how well defined the heroes are and even if the overall product may be underwhelming, the main lead(s) are likeable enough and the franchise planning hasn’t gotten in the way of this…until now. This year’s Captain Marvel would be placed in my personal bottom five movies of the MCU movies. While adequate enough, the film lacks, dare I say, a vision for its main lead.
Marvel, as of late, has been trying to get around the origin story template while still having to introduce new characters into the world. Captain Marvel is then about Carol discovering who she is and rejecting the Kree’s resentment to emotions and fully embracing herself; essentially an origin story for the alter ego instead of the hero. Abandoning clichés entirely must be taken with caution, as clichés can act as a stable foundation to build on and to ease an audience into a new vision. Unfortunately, they fail to create a comprehensive origin for Danvers, and I don’t mean that the story is confusing, but rather ends up being vague and bare. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen nearly all of the flashbacks as they were presented in the film. Just seeing her sing karaoke and be told that she’ll never excel in the Air Force shouldn’t be the only glimpses we get of her. They don’t show her personal struggles and there are few scenes fleshing out the relationship between her friends.
At one point, a girl is describing their lives before her disappearance only to drown out her voice and just breeze through photos. This made me realize how little we actually see Carol taking in her discovery of her past, as if Marvel expects us to take everything as a given and fill in the blanks ourselves. The whole film feels like that: a story about an incredibly skilled Air Force soldier only to be on autopilot. Edit quick cuts in generic fist fights to keep the audience from getting bored. Reference the 90s to give the appearance of a flavor without any sort of commentary. Have Nick Fury and friend explain what Carol is like without building on top of those traits.
I re-watched Captain Marvel for the purpose of this editorial and stopped the movie early at a point where my opinion had been cemented: Captain Marvel’s first flight. The film gave me an impression that Carol enjoyed the thrill and speed of flying, and now she no longer is bound to the cockpit but instead experiencing such a fantastical power that few of the other MCU heroes even possess…and they don’t even show her reaction. We just get a “woo-hoo” as she wizzes, blurring her face. I understand that a lot of people love Carol Danvers. Her movie passed $1 billion and everyone was applauding when she appeared on screen in Endgame, and I do not wish to take away any enjoyment from you. However, when I think back to how well-defined and unique Tony Stark was in Iron Man, in which the small studio set out on one of the riskiest film ventures only to now coast off of its brand name. Captain Marvel isn’t a bad movie, but I do find its lead poorly written. Yes, Marvel does think long-term and can improve but that still doesn’t change how inconsequential this “arc” was.