Brie Larson is a fantastic MCU addition, but Captain Marvel is only... okay
She also potentially represents a major problem for the future of the MCU.
Following on from the events of Avengers: Infinity War, the remnants of the Avengers and the Guardians Of The Galaxy are in a bad way, but the MCU they're housed in has never been stronger.
Black Panther broke box office records, was nominated for Best Picture and finally won Marvel its first Oscar. Ant-Man & The Wasp, Thor: Ragnarok, and yes, even the bummer that was Infinity War were some of the best, most-entertaining blockbusters of the last 18 months or so.
The future is bright, and Captain Marvel is sure to be a major part of that higher, further, faster future. However, there is a snag.
A few snags, actually. One of which is most definitely not Brie Larson.
Having flirted with blockbusters before (Kong: Skull Island, primarily), and having already let us all know just how funny she can be (see: Scott Pilgrim, Community, Trainwreck, 21 Jump Street), it is great to see Larson finally make the jump to headlining a film of this size, especially since she makes it look so effortless.
Fully imbuing Carol Danvers with strength, warmth, intelligence, and humour that doesn't go full Tony Snark, her Captain Marvel is a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But how we get her there is via the most complicated, over-stuffed story in the MCU to date. Somehow, despite focussing almost solely on a single character, it is harder to keep track of than Infinity War.
We first met Carol DanVers as an amnesiac alien-solider suffering nightmares of a horrific crash that she barely survived, with glimpses of a memory of someone important to her (Annette Bening, who doesn't have as much fun as, say, Glenn Close had in a similar role).
Her squad leader (Jude Law, nailing every aspect of the role) is teaching her to control her abilities, as they continue to go to war with their mortal enemies, the shape-shifting Skrulls. During a rescue mission, and a subsequent shoot-out, Danvers crash-lands in America (mid-90's America to be exact, complete with amazing soundtrack), with co-ordinates for a weapon that could help her side win the war.
Along the way she crosses paths with Nick Fury (an apparently ageless Sam Jackson), and they go full buddy-cop, complete with funny banter, big shoot-outs, and emotional revelations.
To be honest, we're only about 30 minutes into the movie at this point, and there is still SO MUCH MORE TO GO. Picking up the action well before the initiation of the Avengers itself means that we're getting to re-meet some memorable faces from the MCU's past - Agent Coulson, and some others you should remember from the first Guardians movie - but it also adds further complications to a plot that is already substantially complicated.
At barely over two hours, this might be the first Marvel movie that felt too short, as a lot of the major plot points and emotional beats feel rushed.
Thankfully, the whole thing is held together by Larson, and her brilliant chemistry with Jackson. They are both so effortlessly charming, that you almost don't mind too much that you're not entirely sure who are the goodies and the baddies anymore. It gets to the point where you only really know which side we're on by who is firing at our heroes, and even then, that can't be trusted, because the baddies (or are they?) can look like the goodies (or are they??).
The action scenes are pretty good, especially the scenes earlier in the movie when the stunts feel grounded and physical, before Danvers has full control of her CGI powers and things revert to Explosive Climax In Space.
And here we are. That major problem.
After over a decade with over 20 movies, the sudden arrival of an all-powerful Deus Ex Machina to save the world from Thanos seems a little bit like... cheating? Maybe the head honchos at Marvel will prove to be smarter than us, which they have been before, and will find a way to make it work and keep it interesting, but it'll require jumping through some serious narrative hoops.
The good news is that the majority of the individual MCU heroes failed to get it right the first time around. Thor, Ant-Man, Captain America; they all got better as their sequels arrived, and hopefully the same will apply for Carol Danvers' escapades.
But how they're going to fix the problem of Captain Marvel going forward is anyone's guess.
Captain Marvel is released in Irish cinemas from Friday 8 March.
Clip via Marvel Entertainment