‘Captain Marvel’ falls short of possible greatness

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Brie Larson is a tremendous talent. Yet it became devastatingly apparent as I was watching “Captain Marvel” that when you give even a stellar actress like Larson nothing to work with, you can end up with a flat protagonist, which is unfortunately the case with this film.

“Captain Marvel” follows intergalactic space cop Veers (Brie Larson), a member of the alien race of noble warriors the Kree. However, Veers differs from the rest of her compatriots, as she is significantly more powerful than her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and the rest of her fellow Kree, and also has continuous flashbacks to a life on Earth that she can’t remember, specifically of a human woman (Annette Bening) speaking to her on an airstrip. When a routine mission rescuing a Kree informant from the clutches of the Kree’s archenemy, the shapeshifting Skrulls, goes wrong, Veers is sent crashing into Earth in 1995. With the evil Skrulls following, Veers finds herself wrapped up in a mystery with new human companion Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), as they discover information that changes the very nature of Veers’ understanding of her life and her understanding of her planet’s war with the Skrulls.

On paper, this story really works. It’s an interesting mystery that also introduces some Marvel’s more cosmic characters that the normal public might not know about. However, in execution, “Captain Marvel” falls flat. And there are a few reasons for this, but personally, I think it all ties back to the script. The script feels clunky and stilted, with dialogue that forces set ups for later plot points so blatantly that you can see the payoff coming from miles away. Chemistry between characters feels forced, and it overall doesn’t feel like it has decided on a characterization for its protagonist, something essential for a movie that is structured the way this movie is.

“Captain Marvel” is unable to decide between extremes for it’s protagonist. In one line, our protagonist will go from cracking a joke, to being stone cold serious. I’m not saying you can’t do that once in a while, but it is constant there to the point where Veers doesn’t feel like a fully fleshed out character. This is only expounded upon by the fact that Veers is an amnesiac, meaning at the start of the film, she has no real backstory. Without a real backstory, there is nothing else to build an opinion off of besides her character, which is noticeably absent.

That’s not to say there is nothing good about this movie. There is one element that comes to mind, and his name is Ben Mendelsohn. For those who don’t know Ben Mendelsohn: start looking for him. He is currently cornering the market on blockbuster villains, and good lord is he good at it. His most noticeable roles include Director Krennic in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and Nolan Sorrento in Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One.” In “Captain Marvel,” Mendelsohn absolutely shines as Talos, a Skrull general. What starts off as a simple joke cracking villain quickly turns into a well rounded three dimensional character. Mendelsohn is an absolute delight to watch on screen and the lovable nature of his character only goes to show how desperately this movie needs a protagonist that can match his charisma.

The biggest sin of “Captain Marvel” is that it is simply bland, which is the one thing a superhero movie cannot be.  An interesting story alone cannot carry a movie, and “Captain Marvel” makes this quite apparent. It ultimately feels like more could’ve been done to make this film great. “Captain Marvel” feels, in the end, like a grand disappointment, and a waste of Brie Larson’s incredible talent. If you really need to know everything about the Marvel-verse then go see this, as it’s got some semi-important things in it as the set up for “Avengers: Endgame,” but if you’re fine going in blind, then take a pass on this one. From the limited screen time Captain Marvel has in the trailers for “Avenger Endgame,” it looks like she’ll be handled a little better, and I really do hope she is, as Larson is a wonderful actress and Captain Marvel is a really interesting character. If that does happen, I’ll be quite pleased, but as of now, with this film being her only appearance so far, there is much to be desired.