We've been eagerly anticipating Captain Marvel over here for the past few years. The Marvel Cinematic Universe's first female-centric film is a big deal no matter how you cut it, and with a cast of Brie Larson, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, and returning cast members like Samuel L. Jackson, there was so much to be excited about. But does the film actually live up to those insane expectations?
According to reviews... sort of! Though they're less glowing than some of the MCU's other first reactions, it sounds like Captain Marvel is a super fun origin story for Carol Danvers, even if it does come up a little short of expectation. More than 20 films and 10 years into the MCU, it's clear that people had their sights extra-high for the studio's first solo female superhero film. Though it may not have corrected Marvel's origin story "problem," critics still seem pretty charmed by the overall product, with extra praise for the cast and the cat!
Here's a breakdown of what critics are saying about Captain Marvel.
Nerdist's own Rosie Knight: "Captain Marvel is a fun, fresh take on the superhero movie and hints at an interesting future for the MCU. It's a sci-fi heavy actioner, which is at its best when it's being sincere and is a good first step to rectifying some of the problems of the franchise's past. But coming after groundbreaking films like Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and even Wonder Woman means that sometimes Captain Marvel's impact feels like it would have been bigger had it come out closer to the era it was set."
Kayti Burt, Den of Geek: "This movie is no Black Panther or, if we're expanding the field of comparison, Wonder Woman, which benefitted greatly from being the first major superhero blockbuster to headline a female protagonist—frankly, a milestone race that was Marvel's to lose. Luckily, Captain Marvel doesn't have to be better than all of the MCU's previous films to be something enjoyable. The MCU has a pretty impressive narrative median, but, past that, like the Avengers, this is a team sport and Captain Marvel is nothing if not a team player."
David Sims, The Atlantic: "Any time the story settles into its central mystery, the script is far more involving; there are even a couple of satisfying major twists at the midpoint. But the amnesia required comes at the cost of Carol as a character, and coupled with the uninspiring action, that makes Captain Marvel more of a solid building block for future endeavors than a must-see solo adventure."
Susana Polo, Polygon: "There is nothing inherently female about Carol’s origin story, and it is possible, and permissible, for a story about a woman to not be a story about Being A Woman. Captain Marvel takes up that torch anyway. To paraphrase the words of Marvel’s first female superhero to star in her own film: She doesn’t need to prove anything. And nevertheless, she does."
Helen O'Hara, Empire: "Once Danvers connects with Fury, their odd-couple banter blasts the film into the stratosphere. There are small but fun fight scenes highlighting Danvers’ tenacity, and the joy of seeing Fury having things explained to him for once. There’s a friendly cat called Goose who takes a shine to Fury and threatens to steal the entire film. It all unrolls to a killer ’90s soundtrack, with bangin’ choons from such decade-defining artists as TLC, Elastica and Hole. And as Danvers spends time with [Maria] Rambeau, we get our first real glimpse under her skin and into her humanity."
Hoai-Tran Bui, /Film: "Larson and Jackson’s buddy-comedy routine becomes the heart of this film, and Fury’s introduction is where the film finally settles into its rhythm. The two partner up after Carol crashes into a Blockbuster store, with Fury at first in pursuit of this errant alien soldier before allying himself with her upon witnessing a Skrull attack. With this duo at the center, Captain Marvel seamlessly moves from road movie, to heist film, to mystery thriller."
Mike Ryan, UPROXX: "There are some legitimately strange scenes and imagery in Captain Marvel, and not “strange” in the quirky tone of, say, Guardians of the Galaxy. This is a full-on, strange, sci-fi film. Some of the scenes reminded me of Rey snapping into the endless mirrors during The Last Jedi. This is a movie that features a cerebral, psychedelic fight set to Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.”"
Hannah Woodhead, Little White Lies: "In the age of the dour superhero flick, Captain Marvel strikes a pleasing chord, at once delivering levity, gravity and spectacle. Danvers is constantly told that ‘emotions are weakness’, a line that has been parroted at women for centuries, and it is both thrilling and poignant to see her overcome her male oppressors."
Yolando Machado, io9: "It feels like a little wink that we find ourselves in the era that had no idea cat videos would be huge trend of the future, and yet, gives us one of the best cats on film—Goose! Goose is the real MVP and I need him in every MCU film from now on. To tell you why would be a big spoiler, so I won’t ruin it for you, but if you weren’t a cat fan before, you most definitely will be now."
Images: Disney, Marvel