Here it finally is: the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a female lead. So was it worth the wait? Well… yes and no.
Yes because Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is a great role model for women (and why not men!) around the world. Captain Marvel’s character is strong and confident because of her job, not because of her gender. She was a pilot and that is what made her fearless. For the first film with a female lead I might have expected more cheesy lines about how the fact she is a woman made her who she is. But unless I missed it, the word woman is never even mentioned. Even when talking to men, Captain Marvel is never sexualized or considered inferior. Some might consider this a small detail, but for a film viewed by thousands of young people, such a powerful and positive approach to gender equality can really make a difference to help our society. The strong emphasis on her female friendship with Maria (Lashana Lynch) also made a nice change for a superhero movie, a genre where women tend to be either the girlfriend or the villain. (I know, I know, there is Black Widow – but when have you ever seen her have a friendly conversation with another woman?) Captain Marvel gives me hope that soon gender will not define characters, it will just be a minor part of complex and well-written personalities.
Another positive point for Marvel fans is that this film is an origin story set in 1995. This buddy movie set in a pre-Avengers America has some fun elements to it, such as the dialogue and the good soundtrack. There’s also undeniable pleasure in seeing a young Nick Fury (performed by a magically de-aged Samuel L. Jackson) and finally learning how he got the eye patch.
However, I was quite disappointed with the story even though it was fun and entertaining. The issue for me is that the story’s strong point is that the star is a woman. But close your eyes and imagine Captain Marvel had been a man, and you suddenly realise the film is not all that interesting. What could have been a key film in the Marvel cinematic Universe, on a level with Black Panther, is really only an enjoyable but forgettable film. People were talking about Black Panther for weeks after it came out. Captain Marvel, in contrast, feels like it disappeared as fast as it arrived. I think this has a lot to do with its unmemorable action scenes – apart from one fun action scene set in an archive center, where Captain Marvel comes to save Fury.
The baddies being shapeshifter aliens that Captain Marvel seems to beat very easily also reduced the stakes of the story. And finally, a very uninteresting plot twist at the end, involving the quite boring character played by Jude Law, did nothing to help me to believe in (or even care about) what was happening in front of me.
One very big problem I had with this film was the cheesiness. The emphasis on the importance of belonging to a family, showed through scenes of Captain Marvel and her friends enjoying dinner together and the slow-motion reunion of a separated family of aliens, put me off. A montage of little girls getting up after falling down might have made some people cry. They also may love the fact that women finally ‘have a voice’. But personally I was quite offended that the writers thought I needed to see that in order to understand what the film was about.
So Captain Marvel is a fun film, but if I ever want to show empowering female-driven stories to friends or family, I would choose Frozen, Moana or even Hunger Games – all of which are films that were made a few years ago but seem to be far more modern.