July 22, 2019

Winnipeg
18° C, Clear

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Opinion

Marvel's action-packed answer to Wonder Woman hindered by shaky script

Released on International Women’s Day, this superhero adventure is probably the first Marvel movie with a “nevertheless, she persisted” montage.

Marvel and Disney are clearly hoping for their very own Wonder Woman moment, offering not just a female-led film but one that comes at a pivotal point for the whole Avengers: Endgame thing. (Stay for the post-credits sequence, by the way.)

Certainly, Brie Larson, who has shown herself to be a tremendously resourceful actor in films like The Room, is wondrous. She plays Vers, an alien warrior with blurry memories of Earth who is destined to become Captain Marvel.

And directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (known for indie projects like Half-Nelson and Sugar) and their scripting team shrewdly explore the shape of Vers’s specifically female power. Her strength has always been there, the story suggests. It’s been thwarted and denied and dismissed — but look out when she finally claims it for her own.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Released on International Women’s Day, this superhero adventure is probably the first Marvel movie with a "nevertheless, she persisted" montage.

Marvel and Disney are clearly hoping for their very own Wonder Woman moment, offering not just a female-led film but one that comes at a pivotal point for the whole Avengers: Endgame thing. (Stay for the post-credits sequence, by the way.)

Certainly, Brie Larson, who has shown herself to be a tremendously resourceful actor in films like The Room, is wondrous. She plays Vers, an alien warrior with blurry memories of Earth who is destined to become Captain Marvel.

And directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (known for indie projects like Half-Nelson and Sugar) and their scripting team shrewdly explore the shape of Vers’s specifically female power. Her strength has always been there, the story suggests. It’s been thwarted and denied and dismissed — but look out when she finally claims it for her own.

Unfortunately, even when Vers’s power reaches cosmic levels, she is still being undermined — not by the patriarchy but by a foggy, uncertain script. The narrative has a bumpy, stop-and-start quality, and while there’s action — plenty of action — it rarely feels like there are consequences.

The film’s long, drippy prologue is set on Hala, the home planet of the Kree civilization, a "race of noble warrior heroes." Jude Law plays Yon-Rogg, tasked with taking Vers though a series of Yoda-slash-Morpheus-like training sequences, and he warns her that "humour is a distraction." No wonder then, that the Kree sequences feel stiff and portentous.

Despite Vers’s struggle with fragmentary memories, bad dreams and confused identity — not to mention that unacceptable sense of humour — Vers is cleared for a mission to a border planet being infiltrated by the Krees’ historic enemies, the Skrulls. This shapeshifting race is led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), a greenish goblin-looking guy with a mock Cockney accent.

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)

FILM FRAME

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)

Vers ends up tracking the enemy to C-53, a.k.a Earth. (Evidently, we have an intergalactic reputation for being "a s**t-hole planet.")

At this point, the movie perks up, becoming a breezy buddy comedy involving the young Nick Fury (played, with some deft digital tweaking by a 71-year-old Samuel L. Jackson), the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Jackson and Larson have an easy, funny back-and-forth byplay, and there are some grounded dramatic scenes with Vers’s friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch).

Since this is Earth in the 1990s, there are also lots of jokes about Blockbuster and Radio Shack and pagers and CD-ROMs (oh, man, they take forever to load, a fact that’s played for comedy at a key moment of suspense).

As Vers reconnects to her earthly life, there’s some feminist consciousness raising, whether that’s a flashback to her Air Force training and a misogynist taunt that she’ll never make pilot ("There’s a reason they call it a cockpit") or a kickass response to a man who tells her to "smile, honey."

There’s plenty of fan service, with Easter eggs and a bittersweet cameo by the late Stan Lee and jokes about Fury’s propensity for eye injuries and two (two!) post-credits sequences.

The story finally comes together to deliver a revelation that pivots all of that vast interplanetary warfare to a topical political message, but it comes too late to be interesting or effective. The implications of this theme are also sidetracked by one of those interchangeable apocalyptic superhero showdowns.

Fleck and Boden’s strengths are in small, human-being-type scenes. They seem out of their element with large-scale action and special-effects-driven sequences.

They also fall victim to a common issue in comic-book movies: The Expanded Universe problem. When every movie has to slot into a massive 10-year franchise plan, there’s too much energy diverted to backstory and retrofitting and building up to something else. Even when a formidably female Captain Marvel finally gets her own film, it feels less like a standalone story and more like a placeholder.

alison.gillmor@freepress.mb.ca

Alison Gillmor

Alison Gillmor
Writer

Studying at the University of Winnipeg and later Toronto’s York University, Alison Gillmor planned to become an art historian. She ended up catching the journalism bug when she started as visual arts reviewer at the Winnipeg Free Press in 1992.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us