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‘Captain Marvel’ review roundup: An uneven origin story with a strong finish

Published Mar 5th, 2019 10:53AM EST
Captain Marvel review roundup
Image: Disney

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Now that the decade-long story that began with Iron Man in 2008 is finally coming to a close, Marvel fans are excited to see where the film studio takes its cinematic universe in the years to come. We still don’t know who will walk away from the events of Avengers: Endgame, but we do know that the Avengers will look much different once the Thanos saga ends. And one of the key pillars of that new team will likely be none other than Captain Marvel.

The first reviews for Captain Marvel were published on Tuesday morning. The expectations were understandably high for Marvel’s first movie of this cinematic universe to star a female superhero, and while the early reactions from critics have been generally positive, Captain Marvel might not be Marvel’s best origin story.

Below, we’ve rounded up just a few of the dozens of reviews that popped up online this morning. It’s somewhat of a mixed bag, so if you were expecting a consensus on Captain Marvel, you might be disappointed:

AV Club (Grade: C)

We’ll start with a somewhat gloomy review from AV Club, which calls the movie’s originality into question:

The all-too-familiar MCU background palette of secret bases, spaceships, hangars, and underground complexes (but this time with crappier computers) contributes to the impression of anonymity. But at least the film has a sense of humor—admittedly faint praise, given how many of its predecessors in the MCU have been funny enough to qualify as ensemble comedies. Here, two characters strike up an unlikely partnership, whup alien ass, make some corny jokes, uncover secrets, and come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, superheroes are something the Earth needs. It’s everything you might expect a sci-fi superhero movie to be, if you hadn’t seen one in a longtime.

Read the full review from Ignatiy Vishnevetsky on AV Club


Empire (Grade: 4/5)


review was among the more favorable, noting that although the movie initially fails to connect with the audience, it eventually finds its footing when Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury appears on screen:

Still, once Danvers connects with Fury, their odd-couple banter blasts the film into the stratosphere. There are small but fun fight scenes highlighting Danvers’ tenacity, and the joy of seeing Fury having things explained to him for once. There’s a friendly cat called Goose who takes a shine to Fury and threatens to steal the entire film. It all unrolls to a killer ’90s soundtrack, with bangin’ choons from such decade-defining artists as TLC, Elastica and Hole. And as Danvers spends time with Rambeau, we get our first real glimpse under her skin and into her humanity.

Read the full review from Helen O’hara on Empire


The Guardian (Grade: 3/5)

The Guardian’s

slightly-less-favorable review praises Brie Larson’s performance, but not the movie as a whole:

Larson has the natural body language of a superhero: that mixture of innocence and insouciance, that continuous clear-eyed idealism and indignation combined with unreflective battle-readiness, all the things that give MCU films their addictive quality. I wanted a clearer, more central story for Captain Marvel’s emergence on to the stage, and in subsequent films – if she isn’t simply to get lost in the ensemble mix – there should more of Larson’s own wit and style and, indeed, plausible mastery of martial arts. In any case, Captain Marvel is an entertaining new part of the saga.

Read the full review from Peter Bradshaw on The Guardian


IGN (Grade: 8.3/10)


review has as high a rating of any review we included, but also points to the movie’s obligation to start a new story from scratch as a weakness in an otherwise strong entry into the MCU:

That said, the Phase One nostalgia does seem a bit jarring at times. It’s strange to feel the MCU suddenly pivot back to the pure origin story routine after the last two years have been so experimental, and it’s hard not to walk away wishing that Carol would have gotten the Black Panther or Spider-Man treatment with an introduction built into a previous movie to help add a bit more narrative weight. The exposition, especially in the first act, feels a bit breakneck at times as it rushes to try and get out of its own way.

Read the full review from Meg Downey on IGN


IndieWire (Grade: C-)

By far the harshest of the reviews in this roundup, IndieWire found very little to love in Captain Marvel:

This isn’t the first time a Marvel protagonist has spent an entire movie trying to figure out the basic details of who they are, but at least Star Lord was given some additive character business to fill in the gaps. Ms. Danvers has no such luck, and Larson — an Oscar-winner whose natural protectiveness is poorly served by such a self-satisfied character — has little to do beyond mug for the camera and spout third-rate one-liners to any of the men who get in her way. Larson is far too eager to play her own action figure, and that proud approach doesn’t leave Carol anywhere to go once her memories inevitably return. So she settles for quips and second-hand glimpses into whatever life she used to live. There’s an emotional core in there somewhere, but the movie doesn’t find it.

Read the full review from David Ehrlich on IndieWire


Variety (Positive)

The ’90s nostalgia was hit-or-miss for many reviewers, but Variety found it to be tastefully done:

The movie is set in 1995, when S.H.I.E.L.D. is just a budding task force and the Avengers are barely a gleam in the eye of Nick Fury, played by a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson, who is done a surprising favor by the visual trickery. He seems different than usual — lighter and perkier. Boden and Fleck have fun digging into the nostalgia of this particular distant-yet-not-so-ancient moment, when Blockbuster and RadioShack outlets dotted the landscape, “Whatta Man” and “Just a Girl” ruled the airwaves, and early digital culture was all CD-ROMs and Internet cafés.

Read the full review from Owen Gleiberman on Variety


Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.