Captain Marvel ★★★

Captain Marvel is not the revolutionary work of feminism Marvel's propaganda machine and the resulting neo-con backlash would have you believe. In some ways, Marvel is severely playing catch-up. In over ten years and 20-something films, this is the first to feature a woman superhero as the lead in her own story. Considering the wealth of characters that could have been drawn on from seven decades worth of comics at any time, I'm not really concerned with giving Kevin Feige a pat on the back.

The film itself is fairly uneven, as the difference in quality between the first half and the second is worlds apart. The first half felt incredibly mundane, partly because of Jude Law's annoying lectures and partly because the production design for the Kree sequences felt like someone just rushed to recreate the look of the first Guardians of the Galaxy without much thought. The second half of the movie is great, briskly-paced fun with an actual twist that pays emotional dividends and motivates Carol's heroics in a realistic way.

I am a big fan of Brie Larson, and I think she was great in the role. The writing of her character can be a little one-note, but once the action kicks in during the second half there's enough going on to distract from this. The role of Nick Fury (once again portrayed by Sam Jackson) was surprisingly fun, and their warm chemistry is another reason the film's second half was so superior. Ben Mendelsohn was good in his role, though using the Aussie accent as an alien was an odd choice.

Overall, Captain Marvel was long-overdue not only in telling a story belonging wholly to a woman superhero, but also introducing a power level to the heroes that the MCU has shied away from in their main characters barring the Hulk (various cosmic threat levels have shown villains this highly powered, but now we're getting finally into Superman-like territory). Many have complained about Carol's powers acting as a deus ex machina in her own story as well as Endgame, but they clearly never read a comic. This is a whole other system of logic. You can't treat these things like they're literal, they bend to the will of writers and as such can be whatever you want them to be.

The MCU was understandably slow to bridge out from the grounded feel of the first Iron Man film, but now after hours and hours of interacting with increasingly fantastical situations including the entire Infinity Guantlet saga, Captain Marvel's incredible power level is a natural adjustment. Heroes can be underdogs, but they also have to have a fighting chance. It's the comic book equivalent of escalation, and the outcome is entertaining as long as you don't approach it as mirroring the real world. Captain Marvel's capacity for fun storytelling exemplified in the second half of the movie has me excited for more of similarly off-the-charts cosmic fare, especially Chloé Zhao's Eternals.

The greatest weakness Captain Marvel has is the same as most of the middling-to-good MCU films, which is that they would hardly work on their own as films without the complete background of the universe. Which essentially means that if the MCU is your jam, you will probably enjoy this. If not, I guess you could like it, but I wouldn't bet money.

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