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Captain Marvel Early Reviews: The MCU's Latest is Both Fresh & Familiar

Early reviews are here for Captain Marvel, ahead of the movie's release in theaters Thursday evening. Eleven years in, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally getting its first solo female superhero adventure with Captain Marvel, an origin story for the cosmically super-powered warrior Carol Danvers. Oscar-winner Brie Larson stars in the film, which also doubles as the second to last entry in Phase 3 of the MCU, before Avengers: Endgame arrives in May. It's a proper "event" movie, in other words, and is arguably the first real cinematic "event" of 2019, much like Marvel Studios' Black Panther was when it hit the scene just over a year ago.

Naturally, the Marvel marketing machine has been working overtime to promote Captain Marvel during the final weeks leading up to its release. The strategy is clearly working too, as Captain Marvel is tracking for a big opening weekend at the U.S. box office and is ahead of comic book blockbusters like Wonder Woman and Thor: Ragnarok, when it comes to IMAX pre-sales. Early reactions to the film have also been positive, though the studio kept Captain Marvel's reviews under embargo until today, as part of their larger approach to promoting the film.

Related: Brie Larson is 'Super Into' All-Female Avengers Movie Idea

The embargo has now been lifted and Captain Marvel reviews are pouring in from around the internet. Per Screen Rant tradition, we've rounded up spoiler-free excerpts from several of them and included links to the reviews in full. You can check them out, below:

Molly Freeman - Screen Rant

[Captain Marvel] is a must-see for superhero fans, especially those who have craved more female-led stories. The movie isn't perfect and it falls into many of the same trappings as other MCU films, but it's a strong installment and a good effort to innovate the origin story archetype. Further, with Larson's Carol Danvers poised to become a bigger part of the MCU going forward, her origin story is integral to the franchise's future - so MCU fans will want to check out the movie.

Brandon Zachary - CBR

Captain Marvel isn't as thematically deep as Black Panther or as all-out entertaining as Guardians of the Galaxy, but it is perhaps the best modern example of how the Marvel formula can still allow for sincere character explorations and compelling stories. The film adheres to the overall tone of the MCU, while still being very much its own story about someone coming to terms with her power and pushing aside the limitations set by others. It's one of the best movies Marvel Studios has released, and it will probably be a longtime favorite for an entire generation of fans.

April Wolfe - The Wrap

Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s take on the Carol Danvers origin story jettisons subtlety in its messaging of female empowerment and anti-imperialism to varying degrees of success... But the two co-directors, working from a script they co-wrote with Geneva Robertson-Dworet, have seemingly taken a tip from all that surrounds them in 2019 that renders subtlety obsolete and beats on some well-worn sexist tropes with a story that screams: “I guess you did not hear us when we said we don’t want to smile!”

Susana Polo - Polygon

In Captain Marvel, Marvel Studios brings to bear the familiar formula of its best origin story movies: character development, good casting, quips, decent-but-rarely-groundbreaking special effects, and a soupçon of political allegory and science-fiction invention. This sounds like a criticism, but I mean it with sincerity... The studio has mastered the building blocks of heroic narratives, and it’s no surprise that Kevin Feige, with directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson) stuck to the blueprints while constructing its first heroic narrative about a woman (a prospect so daunting it apparently took over 10 years for the studio to work up the courage).

Angie Han - Mashable

[Captain Marvel] feels, for better or for worse, like so much of what has come before it. The tone strikes that familiar mix of earnest heroism and relatable humor. The action sequences rely less on clever choreography and camerawork than on shiny CG and emotional resonance. Much of the plot hinges on twists we've seen in other Marvel movies... Still, it's a testament to how reliable the MCU has become that I'm not complaining, or not entirely. It's pleasant, comforting even, to fall back into a world we know so well, cozy in the knowledge that we're in good hands.

Captain Marvel - Skrulls

Todd McCarthy - THR

Captain Marvel has two distinctions: It is the first Marvel Studios film to be built around a female superhero, and it is the least of the Marvel productions made since Kevin Feige took the reins and launched the brand into the stratosphere. The picture is not dull, exactly, just mundane, marked by unimaginative plotting, cut-rate villains, a bland visual style and a lack of elan in every department. Or put it this way: What Black Panther did for black representation in the superhero realm is not done for women in Captain Marvel.

David Ehrlich - IndieWire

As generic and retrograde as “Black Panther” was specific and revolutionary, “Captain Marvel” is a frustrating disappointment at a time when every inclusive blockbuster is fought over as though it could be the decisive battle in our never-ending culture wars. That disappointment is only deepened by the fact that the film was directed by the talented indie twosome of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, whose previous work [is] charged with all the verve and humanity that’s missing here. If not for some grounded character work towards the end of the story, their contributions to this $152-million behemoth would seem totally anonymous.

Helen O'hara - Empire

Carol Danvers’ final battle offers a radical message and becomes a powerful metaphor for what could happen if we stop waiting to be told that we are enough; if we stop believing the people who tell us we’re too emotional or too weak. Captain Marvel says that, when we stop looking for approval, we can become literally godlike. This is not another cheap girl-power cliché; it’s an explicitly feminist apotheosis. Some people will find it disorientating to watch. Captain Marvel offers zero concessions to ease anyone in or win them over to Carol Danvers’ point of view. If that makes it hard for some viewers to relate to her, she’ll deal.

Captain Marvel Brie Larson Starforce

On the whole, critics so far agree that Captain Marvel is another chip off the MCU block; where they disagree, however, is whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. MCU films are known for being pretty formulaic and that seems to be the case here. Most of the reviews (positive, negative, and in-between) note that Carol Danvers' origin story has pretty much all the same ingredients as the MCU superhero adventures that've come before it. At the same time, the movie is earning praise for its unapologetically feminist outlook and "girl power" messaging, as well as its larger anti-imperialist political overtones. It might not be as ground-breaking as something like Black Panther but, by the sound of it, Captain Marvel is another step in the right direction for the larger MCU brand.

It'll be interesting to see if that consensus changes or simply remains the same, as more Captain Marvel reviews pour in. The film is currently at 86% Fresh after 35 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a step down from Black Panther (97% Fresh) but virtually the same as last year's Avengers: Infinity War (85% Fresh). All in all, though, the movie is in good shape when it comes to word of mouth - something that will no doubt come as welcome news to the powers that be at Marvel Studios and Disney, ahead of the tentpole's premiere this weekend.

MORE: Captain Marvel: Every Update You Need to Know

Source: Various [see the above links]

Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
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