Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's Captain Marvel is the first MCU film to feature a top-billing female lead; the latest entry since 2016's Doctor Strange to debut a new hero and the much (much, much, much) anticipated setup for the big, bad Avengers: Endgame later this year.
In terms of both diversity and progressing the overarching MCU narrative, this film matters a helluva lot.
But ultimately, it is, unfortunately, just fine.
When viewed as a whole, I do 'like' almost everything about it, or at least everything except the main character.
Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is a Kree Warrior-Hero, with the sole purpose of eradicating the evil Skrulls - a race of shapeshifting intergalactic terrorists - from the face of the Earth. Also, she is boring.
Larson plays the character without a concrete persona in mind. In one sense, she is trying to be a stoic presence - a la Captain America - but in another she is trying to be a failed stand-up comedian a la Iron Man, zinging off one-liners with both the pace of a cheetah and the comic capabilities of one. She tries to be everything at once, resulting in her doing nothing overly well.
The cast around her, namely a fantastically de-aged Samuel L Jackson (although I refuse to believe he is seventy; I'm not having it), a surprisingly moving Lashana Lynch or a delectably devious, chewing-the-scenery-like-its-a-rubber-steak Ben Mendelson, all do great. And the action is awesome!
But the lead character isn't.
Little else in this film is boring, indeed much of it is quite fun - rarely delving too hard into the politics of a female lead and never letting the pace truly slouch.
But ultimately and unfortunately, it just feels hollow.
This is a Phase One (from Iron Man to The Avengers) Marvel movie in a Phase Three (from Captain America: Civil War to now) era.
It suffers all the same drab cliches, weak villains and poorly defined arcs as Phase One without the scapegoat of having eight-year-old me scream at the top of his lungs because 'OH MY GOD!!!! THOR IS IN A MOVIE!!!!!'.
Nowadays, having a superhero in your movie is as common as having sound ... or colour ... or humans present at any stage in production. Before 2012, you could get away with any lazy writing for just having a Giant Green man yell 'HULK SMASH'. Today? Most people yawn at that, and yet that's all this film really does: show you super-things and expects a standing ovation.
I do truly hope this movie is an inspiration to the youth of today. And if little girls leave this movie empowered, confident and strong - then I will absolutely concede that it has done its job.
But I also expect more on a creative level. After all, we’re in the ‘Endgame’ now; and with Phase Four fast approaching, tier-one mediocrity isn't going to cut it, especially when recent memory has yielded us all of the visually-dazzling Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the thematically-rich Black Panther, the emotionally-potent Logan and the goosebump-inducing Wonder Woman.
Captain Marvel has all of that, but at half the efficacy and double the fodder surrounding it. Truly, it is a missed opportunity.