We've seen Thanos snap his fingers. The Avengers have lost. And in the last few moments before the screen goes dark, Nick Fury comes dangerously close to dropping an F-Bomb with a curious looking pager in his hand. The last thing anyone sees is the screen light up with what everyone now knows as the symbol for the one and only Captain Marvel.

But ... who the hell is that? Why haven't we heard of this hero in the ten years of movies leading up to this point? Where has she been this whole time? What about her is so special that she can save us from Thanos and reverse The Snap?

In theory, Captain Marvel is here to answer those questions. To carefully drop in this Brie Larson-shaped puzzle piece and complete the backstory necessary for Avengers: Endgame to dazzle us next month.

But did it? I'm honestly not sure.

Higher, Faster, Further

Captain Marvel

A solid, if predictable, balance of action and giggles.

Captain Marvel reaches out to every corner of the Cinematic Universe in an attempt to tie this new character into the whole series so far. But the movie struggles with classic prequel story mistakes while relying on a standard origin story format we've seen so many times already.

Pros

  • Fantastic cast
  • Lots of humor
  • Impressive visuals

Cons

  • Timeline is somehow more confusing now
  • Plot is somewhat predictable
  • Goose is not that cat's name, dammit.

Captain Marvel What I love

Quite literally from the moment the Marvel logo starts to appear on the screen to the end of the second end credit scene, this movie elicited emotion from me. The respect paid to Stan Lee brought a tear to my eye, the way every major cast member delivered fantastic zingers kept me giggling, and the sheer scale of the story being told left me truly in awe.

This movie is both a necessary part of the existing universe and a visual accomplishment soaring above the movies which lead to this moment.

When Marvel introduced Doctor Strange to the Cinematic Universe it was done through its own contained story that had nothing to do with the rest of the characters. Captain Marvel is infinitely more ambitious, making it clear that not only was this character around long before Tony Stark built Mk.1 in a cave (with a bunch of scraps!) but she was likely stronger than Thor. You know, exactly the kind of person you'd want around at the zero hour to turn around a galactic disaster, wink wink nudge nudge.

The most impressive thing about this movie by far is its visuals. The techniques used to reverse age Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg are flawless throughout the entire movie, and you never doubt these people look exactly like this at all times. At the same time, the energy flowing through Carol Danvers is never not amazing. This movie even goes out of its way to make sure the alien races we've seen before still look and feel exactly the same. There's never a doubt this movie is both a necessary part of the existing universe and a visual accomplishment soaring above the movies which lead to this moment.

Captain Marvel What wasn't great

Not all that long ago, fans were given a glimpse into how things were going to work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And, like it or not, it set some expectations when Kevin Feige said:

The bigger philosophy is, with each film we make, how can we do it in a way we haven't done before?

Driving home from Captain Marvel, I thought a lot about this sentence. Mostly because I couldn't really figure out how it applied to this movie. The overall plot to Captain Marvel doesn't just lean a little on the predictable side, it's the standard comic book origin story playbook in movie form. This is a standard three-act story, on its most basic level. The thing that makes it unique is, I guess, the twist in the second act. But if you've been watching the movies up to this point, in particular the first Guardians of the Galaxy, it's really not all that surprising.

I'd much rather see the characters in this story develop further than learn the big secret behind how Nick Fury lost his eye.

Captain Marvel also struggles with time, specifically details in the timeline. Like the most recent Solo: A Star Wars Story, there's so much history the movie thinks the audience cares about. And in the same way that I couldn't possibly care less how Han Solo got his iconic blaster, Captain Marvel repeatedly introduces me to details from the depths of the stories we've seen so far where I'm supposed go "oh, hey, cool ..." but don't. Because I'd much rather see the characters in this story develop further than learn the big secret behind how Nick Fury lost his eye.

In the end, I got home from this movie wanting to dive into some of the older Marvel Cinematic Universe films right away. Unfortunately that wasn't because I was feeling nostalgic, but instead because I was left a little confused and wanted to see how some of the details in Captain Marvel lined up with the rest of what we'd seen so far. And that's not great.

Captain Marvel Should you watch it?

Absolutely. Captain Marvel is beautifully shot, the entire cast is amazing, and this film introduces you to someone who is clearly going to be very important in the next Avengers film. It's also got some great humor speckled across this story.

But it's clear the story itself isn't anything particularly special. It's fun, but not as much fun as Thor: Ragnarok. It's gripping, but not as thrilling as Black Panther. The twist is interesting, but nowhere near as shocking as Avengers: Infinity War. After the last couple of years of truly great movies, the overall experience that is Captain Marvel doesn't quite reach the same heights.

4 out of 5

If you go to see this movie in the theater this weekend, and if you're reading this you care enough that you probably should, please do yourself a favor and stick around for both of the end credits scenes. The first one connects Captain Marvel directly to Avengers: Endgame, but the second is just plain funny.

$15 at Fandango