This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Ethan’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Captain Marvel is a pretty weird film. The narrative style is different from most MCU films we've seen up to now — it’s not a linear progression from normal person to superhero, it’s instead a superpowered being searching for herself on her own planet. Yet, watching this film makes you feel the old-fashioned, naïve kind of inspirational heroism that harkens back to, say, Superman (1978). For me, it's a blend of both old and new to create something wholly different, to signal a new saga in the sprawling Marvel universe.
The film is also a bit deeper than most superhero movies today. There are scenes, especially in relation to Carol Danvers's past, that depict her being bullied and patronized by men around her, just because of the fact that she is a woman. I just know some people(and when I say 'people', I mean men) are going to pop some nerves because of these scenes... but the truth is that none of those were exaggerated. That actually happens in this world, even twenty years later from the film's setting of the 1990s. Misogyny is real and men act on it endlessly, and that is why I think both Captain Marvel and its titular character are so important. There's a recurring thing where Yon-Rogg tells her to control her emotions, and that emotions make her weak. It's also what the men in the training academy(seen through flashbacks) say to her, and believe it or not, it's what actually happens in real life! And it was such an awesome moment when Carol said, "I don't need to prove anything to you". This film is shamelessly feminist and so is Carol Danvers, and they give no sh*ts. This has such a powerful and positive message towards young girls living today, and I love the film even more for this reason.
Emphasis on "even more"; because I just know some of you are going 'Oh, you only like Captain Marvel because of an external factor, not because of the film itself!', and I have two things to say to you. One, pardon me if I'm wrong, but underlying messages that the film is based on were always an integral part of films and not some irrelevant outside factor. Two, there are so many things to praise about Captain Marvel as a film. The film pulls such a twist during the second half, revealing that the Kree are, in fact, the oppressors and the Skrull are the oppressed. Suddenly, a simple shape-shifting alien hunting story turns into a story of deceit and fight for freedom. It is then that you really find yourself in the dark; for the first time in an MCU movie, the ending isn't predictable. You genuinely have no idea what's going to happen to the Skrull or Carol. Being unpredictable = more investment from the audience = the sign of a good film. I also appreciated that all those on-the-nose jokes that plagued Marvel movies of recent years are significantly fewer in amount. One or two comic relief moments exist, but they don't disrupt the flow as they did in previous MCU movies(one joke in CM playfully makes fun of how slow computers were in the '90s, how can you not love that?).
Whether you like it or not, Carol Danvers is going to be the new face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And I say this as a huge fan of Tony Stark — he'll probably say so too, because he's Carol's best friend. Anyway, onscreen Carol wouldn't have been complete without Brie Larson. She perfectly embodies Captain Marvel to the extent that I can't imagine anyone else being that character. In a few more films, I'd definitely say that she stands with Ryan Reynolds and Robert Downey Jr. as some of the most perfect comicbook movie castings ever. She beings such positivity to Carol Danvers, such warmth and genuine care that it's extremely hard not to like her. Everyone else is super great in this movie too, notably Samuel L. Jackson as a young Nick Fury.
You know what I genuinely think? Captain Marvel is a great movie, and a great Marvel movie at that. You can have the usual complaints that everyone levels at comicbook movies, and they apply. But there are improvements, almost as if Marvel Studios took some criticisms. Less of the enforced humor, more character moments. There's one sequence where Carol, Talos and Maria stsnd outside Maria's house and discuss about the truth, and it caught me off guard at how unlike the MCU was. With actual weight and a texture to the image that feels raw and un-comiclike, it was when it hit me that Captain Marvel was different. Plus, the '90s soundtrack is great and the CGI isn't nearly as bad as some people deemed it to be based on a few shots in trailers.
Whatever future Carol Danvers will have in film, here's me saying that her first outing... was awesome. It's very much a typical Marvel funfest on the outside, but you might find some genuine food for thought inside.