Captain Marvel ★★★½

Captain Marvel mostly works. Plot wise, it isn't breaking new ground but some fun characters and the general level of competence associated with Marvel films make this solo film an enjoyable ride.

I'm on the fence about Carol Danvers. Larson nailed the big emotional moments but the comedy moments came up short. That usual Marvel humor was definitely present but for whatever reason not particularly effective. We'll see her again in Avengers: Endgame and I'm really interested to see how a completely different set of writers and directors handles Carol.

It's really difficult not to compare Captain Marvel to Wonder Woman, specifically because of the second act where a determined female warrior from another world and a sarcastically skeptical spy are forced to go on a mission to fight a hidden enemy. I think there was something present in Diana that Captain Marvel took shots at with Carol but fell short. Maybe Diana's lack of understanding of "man's world" was more extreme and made the interplay between her and Steve more engaging. Maybe it was Diana's insane level of naive confidence that made her journey more dynamic. I don't know what it was but I definitely got the feeling that Captain Marvel was trying to hit many of the same character beats as Wonder Woman but slightly less successfully.

Supporting characters came away as the big winners. I thoroughly enjoyed Fury, Talos, and Goose the cat and if a scene happened to have all three, it was the best in the movie. Characters like Coulson, Ronan, and the rest of the StarForce were much less of a part of the story than I was expecting.

The story, while entertaining, also felt a bit unbalanced. The "who can you trust" Earth bits were a lot of fun while the Kree space warrior side of things felt underwhelming. I can't help thinking an alien paranoia movie set completely on Earth may have helped to simplify the story which would have given Carol and Fury more time to breathe.

Action wise, there really isn't anything new. Most of the big moments are in the trailer. They're fun to watch but lack something unique. At times they emulate Winter Soldier's grit and at times Ragnarok's pizzazz but I wouldn't say they're quite there. Some shots also have way too much editing to be completely immersive and one action scene, set on a dark planet, is pretty tough to make out.

This movie is also STUFFED with Marvel Easter eggs. Some were pretty cute. Others felt forced. That being said, there were a few things I would have liked more in depth explanations of. I'm surprised I left this movie with less of a picture of what SHIELD is.

And there are two pretty big departures from Marvel comics cannon that will likely ruffle plenty of feathers. The first I don't mind. The second I wasn't a huge fan of, not because it wasn't following the comic rules but because the comic version of that story is way more interesting.

Overall, Captain Marvel is a safe and serviceable origin story and I completely understand why Marvel isn't taking that many risks with a movie that is meant to be the lead in to the most ambitious comic book movie in history. I think audiences will enjoy it and I am excited to see this character in different hands, come Endgame.