Captain Marvel ★★★½

That rush of excitement I had at the end of Infinity War, where Captain Marvel’s symbol bleeps and appears in Nick Fury’s pager, knowing that she is going to be an integral part of the canon throughout this Thanos arc. So, the arrival of a standalone film was expected in the midst and a part of me was intrigued by the concept. However, as things drew near to its release date, doubt shrouded my mind as my prediction resolved to the idea that the film would once again draw from the expected blueprint that most of the franchise’s films are derived from; and to be honest, I was not far from wrong.

With Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck at the helm - along with a partial contribution to its screenplay - Captain Marvel doesn’t exactly convey the filmmakers’ ability to display a distinct and individual voice, a criticism that I frequently have with the studio, as often times filmmakers are to more likely retool their creative process to suit the conditions of the company rather than the opposite nurturing their creativity. There is a benefit to the strict streamlined approach to Marvel’s storytelling, but to some, with me being one of them, begins to strive and seek for the distinguishable pieces that exist within the tight spaces and rattle the structures of that formula, of which Captain Marvel had a few.

Lets start with the buddy chemistry between our titular character and Fury, captured through the driving forces that are both Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson, who manages to surprise me with their back and forth banter and quirkiness, of which Boden and Fleck also manages to soften the strength and hard-edged personas that these two characters are often known for. It’s a refreshing aspect that keeps on giving as the film proceeds along, offering us something to smile and laugh at as it all endures through the motions.

Then it was in the film’s ability to subvert our expectations on the heroes and villains within such a story, and in the process manages to reveal a painful truth that resembles the current state of our nations’ immigration, and what a difference we could make if we decide to extend a hand. There are layers here that are conveyed in Carol (Larson) and the Skrulls’ characterisation and circumstances that had me engaged, more so than I expected. Also I would like to mention the terrific streak that Mendehlsohn has in these antagonistic roles, and his delivery and arc here was just fruitful and engaging.

Lastly, its own approach to an origin story - as pedestrian in the structure as it may be - the angle that its directors provide for the character manages to convey the search and understanding of one’s identity to be far more interesting and thought-provoking than I had expected. Once again, drawing from the climate of our collective reality, she resembles the individual who has lost clarity of her own self, where much of what was served as a foundation, her values, her political stance, her birthright, were not what they seem. It is a determination and driven by a strong internal conflict that draws her towards self-actualisation, on finally becoming the heroic figure that she was destined to be.

With a tone that is not shy of giving a few wisecracks and itself a lighter bounce, Captain Marvel loosens enough to save itself from a suffocating weight of self-seriousness, realising that though it serves as a key inspiration for its audience, that it too is a brand of escapism that aims to bring relief and smiles; and at the theatre where I was at, there was even cheers and celebration that came along with it. This latest fare of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still faulted by the constricting criteria that it aims to fulfil with each release, a factor that I cannot deny despite its assets, but it did bring mild enjoyment that achieved exactly what it intended to do; feed on the anticipation for the final chapter of this third phase of the franchise.

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