Captain Marvel: marvelously mediocre

The next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has exploded into theaters. The final installment before the conclusion to last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Captain Marvel” serves as an introduction to the character before her appearance in the upcoming sequel, “Avengers: Endgame.”

Based on Marvel’s most popular female superhero, “Captain Marvel” introduces the character Carol Danvers, who spent most of her comic book history as the superhero Ms. Marvel, though since her character’s introduction in the 1960s, she has also been known as Binary and Warbird.

After inheriting the name of Captain Marvel in 2012, a new era began.

Though the movie is based somewhat on the comic characters historical origins, many aspects of her backstory are changed for her appearance in the MCU. Captain Marvel’s origins have always been considered to be convoluted at best by comic book fans, so some of these changes act to simplify Danver’s history for the silver screen.

Though many of the changes form an interesting arc on screen, some longtime fans of the character, as well as the original holder of the Captain Marvel title, may find the changes off putting, considering Mar-Vell’s (the original Captain Marvel) popularity.

In an unusual move for the MCU, “Captain Marvel” is set in the 1990s, becoming only the second film, after “Captain America: The First Avenger,” to take place before the events of the most current MCU film. Due to this choice, the movie is filled with ‘90s nostalgia, from the early moments of the film which feature a destructive entrance in a Blockbuster Video to mentions of 80s and ‘90s cultural icons such as the Fonz or the Gameboy.

The movie also features appearances by de-aged versions of Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg as Nick Fury and Phil Coulson respectively. The effects used to complete their transformations is remarkably well done, a prime example of how far the technology has come since it’s early use in movies such as “Terminator Salvation” and “Tron: Legacy.”

The action and CGI presented in the film is to the level that fans of the MCU have come to expect, featuring the usual explosive action sequences. Captain Marvel’s costume design has also received quite a bit of positive feedback, obviously heavily influenced by the current comic design.

Though she portrays her character adequately, Brie Larson failed to captivate with her performance, despite the praise she has received from other critics. Instead, the actors that should draw the most praise are Jackson, who is able to believably portray a younger version of the character fans have come to know and love, and newcomer Annette Bening, who portrays both Dr. Wendy Lawson, a character who is more than what she initially seems, as well as the Kree Supreme Intelligence.

Though filling very different roles, with Jackson supplying much of the movies comedy and Bening’s characters filling more serious, plot relevant roles, both excel wonderfully.

Overall, “Captain Marvel” is an admirable, enjoyable experience to the MCU, but fails to move beyond any of the accomplishments of the other movies of the long-running franchise. It is worth watching, if only for the setup to next month’s “Avengers” outing, but is unlikely to become a series favorite.