Warning: The following contains spoilers from the entirety of Captain Marvel. Read at your own risk!
As we counted down to the long-awaited uber-team-up Avengers: Infinity War, EW’s Marvel Movie Club prepared by revisiting every previous installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. EW’s Chancellor Agard (that’s me!) re-examined one Marvel movie a week, every week, to reassess its powers and hopefully answer important questions like “What was The Incredible Hulk?” “Does Nick Fury wash his eyepatch?” and “Is there a point to Hawkeye?” along the way. In this special edition of the series, we’re taking a look at the latest entry from the House of Ideas, Captain Marvel.
After over five years of waiting, Captain Marvel — Marvel’s long-overdue first female led movie — has finally landed in theaters. Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the 1995-set, 21st MCU movie follows Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers as she tries to figure out her past while also trying to stop an alien invasion and save a group of refugees. To be sure, it’s a messy movie that never quite gets a handle on its a main character, but at the end of the day, it’s still pretty fun thanks almost entirely to the cast, most of whom have at least one standout moment. Below, EW runs down movie’s highs and lows, from the scene-stealers (hello Talos and Goose) to the most annoying aspects of continuity.
Most Likely to Save the Universe: Captain Marvel
In the lead-up to the movie’s release, MCU showrunner Kevin Feige declared that the good captain was Marvel’s most powerful hero, and the actual film didn’t disappoint. Watching Carol go full Super Saiyan — which was, hands down the best part of the film because Larson radiated pure joy during the entire sequence — made it clear that the Leftovengers aren’t as screwed as we thought at the end of Infinity War because they have Captain Marvel on their side.
Best Reveal: Nick Fury’s thoughts on toast
“If toast is cut diagonally, I can’t eat it.” What an oddly specific and fantastic character detail! Who knew the future head of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Samuel L. Jackson) contained multitudes?
Most Likely to Remain Friends Forever: Carol Danvers and Nick Fury
If my colleague Devan Coggan’s recent interview with the pair didn’t make this clear, Larson and Jackson are brilliant together, and their natural chemistry proved to be an asset on-screen, too. Even when the movie wasn’t quite sure who it wanted Carol to be — because she didn’t even know who she was — Larson and Jackson’s buddy-cop dynamic gave us something tangible onto which we could hold. Furthermore, this amazing friendship actually made me happy that Fury will survive Endgame‘s endgame (as seen in the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer), because I’m looking forward to seeing how the space-weary Carol gets on with the older and more jaded version of Fury, assuming the unannounced but likely sequel is set in the present. Will having his favorite hero back in his life bring out a lighter side of Fury? We’ll have to wait to wait and see, but I hope so.
Class Clown: Ben Mendelsohn
Going into Captain Marvel, we all expected Mendelsohn would be the villain of the movie, both because of the film’s marketing and his filmography. Thankfully, that ended up not being the case. Instead, what we got were scenes where Mendelsohn — who play Talos, the shape-shifting leader of the Skrulls — commented on how blue Ben Mendelsohn’s eyes, and delivered lines like “Now, before you go swinging those jazz hands” with the perfect amount of humorous weariness in his voice. Mendelsohn’s darkly comedic performance was definitely Captain Marvel‘s most delightful surprise.
Most Deserving of Her Own Marvel One-Shot: Mar-Vell
Yes, I know that Marvel doesn’t make short films anymore, but if they did, I would watch the hell out of one that dove into what Mar-Vell was up to during her years on Earth. Even though Annette Bening didn’t have too many scenes as the actual Mar-Vell/Dr. Lawson, she still left an impression with the little that she did (which isn’t surprising because, you know, Annette Bening). Her Mar-Vell felt like the mischievous and globe-trotting cool aunt who would take you on adventures every time she visited that I never had, and I want to spend more time this character.
Most Unnecessary Marvel Thread: The Tesseract
Honestly, I couldn’t decide if the Tesseract or Halt and Catch Fire‘s Lee Pace’s appearance as Ronan the Accuser was more deserving of this award. But in the end, the shiny blue goober (a.k.a. the Space Stone) was the winner because its appearance in the final totally took me out of the movie the first time I saw it. Here, the Tesseract functions more as a source of confusion than as an effective reminder of continuity. Instead of reveling in Carol’s exuberant self-actualization, I was trying to figure out how the MacGuffin went from Howard Stark’s possession (see the end of Captain America: The First Avenger) to being part of Project Pegasus. And the problem is that the Tesseract doesn’t even need to be here because Captain Marvel is filled with tons of other more enjoyable things that make it clear this is part of the MCU (see: Fury, a de-aged Clark Gregg as Phil J. Coulson, Ronan the Accuser accusing, and more!).
Most Valuable Player: Goose
Goose would deserve this award just for devouring the Tesseract; however, Goose was also responsible for some of the movie’s funniest moments: the shot of Goose spread-eagled as the plane took off; every interaction Fury had with Goose; the entire Flerken of it all. Basically, if Goose was on-screen, you were probably laughing.
Best Musical Moment: Nick Fury singing “Please Mr. Postman”
Yes, the “Just a Girl” needle-drop is perfectly on the nose; however, Fury singing the Marvelettes’ tune while bantering about the correct pronunciation of Mar-Vell was the musical highlight because it was super cute. More significantly, though, you get the sense that this was probably the last time Fury — who just learned that the universe is far weirder than he ever knew — ever let himself smile and have fun because once Carol took off to the stars, he probably threw himself into finding more heroes as part of his
Protectors Avengers initiative.
Most Underused Player: Gemma Chan
Justice for the Crazy Rich Asians star, who didn’t have nearly enough to do as Starforce’s stoic sniper Minn-Erva. When I saw Captain Marvel for the second time, I seriously considered counting how many lines of dialogue she had, but I realized that might be too depressing. Nevertheless, to make-up for the film’s underuse of Chan, we should all binge AMC’s Humans, on which the British actress plays the first robot, in a society filled with them, that develops consciousness.
Best Use of Photon Blasts: Heating up the kettle
Waiting for water to boil is the worst. Thankfully, we have a hero who is willing to use her energy blasts to both take out an entire Kree armada and speed up one of the most mundane human activities.
Captain Marvel is in theaters now.