Captain Marvel was the movie the world needed, the first venture out of the stagnant masculinity-driven culture of the cinematic past. At a time when superhero movies, especially those in the Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (M.C.U.) are booming (Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” was the fourth highest-grossing film of all time), a newly diverse audience is beginning to question the validity of the masculine leads that have dominated the superhero scene ever since the golden age of comics in the 1940s.
With the first era of the M.C.U. coming to a close with “Avengers: Endgame,” it was the perfect opportunity to introduce a new epoch in superhero cinema with a refreshing female lead, one led by Brie Larson who starred as Carol Danvers in “Captain Marvel,” released this past month. In a way, I admit that “Captain Marvel” was able to achieve this vision. With over 900 million dollars in box office sales and a dedicated fanbase waiting for the ever-so-tantalizing “Endgame,” “Captain Marvel” has certainly continued the lasting legacy of the M.C.U. movies. However, aside from the new female lead, the introduction of the M.C.U.’s most powerful superhero, and even the controversial political statements made by Brie Larson and the subsequent removal of the ability to rate unreleased movies on Rotten Tomatoes, one vital component of “Captain Marvel” was missing: the storyline. In all of the flamboyant pre-release teasing and hype for “Endgame,” Marvel forgot the foundation of moviemaking and, as a result, provided an extremely underwhelming product for what was the perfect opportunity to drastically change the superhero scene.
From beginning to end, “Captain Marvel” was filled with uneven screenwriting, questionable plot details, and sudden reversals of sides (the Skrulls, anyone?). For a prequel purposed to introduce the M.C.U.’s supposedly “most powerful” hero in time for the curtain call of several iconic superheroes, including Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America, “Captain Marvel” seemingly lulled many moviegoers, including myself, to an indifferent trance. There is obviously a problem when the two end-credit scenes, (SPOILER ALERT) with one involving the other Avengers and the other focusing on Goose the cat, bring about more excitement than the entirety of the two-hour movie itself.
The lackluster storyline of “Captain Marvel” is not all due to its own faults. Throughout the viewing, I was constantly attempting to connect “Captain Marvel” to its future successor “Endgame”. This lack of focus and intense anticipation for the culmination of ten years worth of work drew my attention away from the movie itself. Why focus on a minor stepping stone of a movie if not only to understand the plot of “Endgame?” “Captain Marvel” ends up being exactly that: a stepping stone. In hindsight, Captain Marvel was simply part of the minor preparations for Endgame, with a simple explanatory plot to back up Nick Fury’s actions in the end credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War.
“Captain Marvel” deserved more. The people deserved more. The lifelong fans of Marvel comics and the M.C.U. deserved much more than what Marvel gave in the form of “Captain Marvel.” Even as a prequel, this movie was supposed to be a breakthrough, an invigoration of superhero cinema that would completely change the future of the M.C.U., similar to what “Black Panther” was able to achieve only a year ago. Although it was meant to set a precedent to “Endgame,” “Captain Marvel” should have been supplied with better screenwriting, a more developed backstory to Carol Danvers’s extraordinary rise to galactic power, and certainly less political controversy stirred before opening day.
You better step it up Marvel, because “Endgame” isn’t the end. There’s a whole future for superhero movies and we, the audience, expect you to be at that forefront. So, let “Captain Marvel” set you on the right track for your next steps.
Jonathan Fu is a two-year Lower from Short Hills, N.J. Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.