To 3D Or Not To 3D: Buy The Right Captain Marvel Ticket

Captain Marvel powering up

Nick Fury sent out a mysterious and desperate page in the end-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War and at long last we get to meet the hero he called out to in the eleventh-hour with his retrofuturist pager. Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers is making her cinematic debut in Captain Marvel and getting us up to speed on her origin before she hopefully shows up to provide some support in Avengers: Endgame. And like all big screen superheroes, you can enjoy Captain Marvel in 3D.

If you want to know how Captain Marvel stacks up as a film, you can check out our official review. Here, we’re discussing whether you should put on a pair of 3D glasses to go along with your neon windbreaker, Nirvana t-shirt and LA Lights sneakers as you journey back to the 1990s for Captain Marvel. Can you reach out and pet Goose? Does Nick Fury’s eyeball come flying out of the screen? Read on to find out what ticket you should buy for Captain Marvel.

3D Fit Score: 4/5

Superhero movies with all their special effects and action are particularly well-suited to a 3D presentation and that holds true for Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie. As you’ve seen from the trailers, Captain Marvel has all kinds of action, from hand-to-hand combat to car chases to dogfights to space battles and that all makes it a very good fit for a 3D presentation. The only reason this is not a “5” is because the film isn’t quite a brightly-colored feast as something like Thor: Ragnarok or an animated movie and it also has a fair amount that takes place on the ground that doesn’t beg for 3D.

Planning & Effort Score: 3/5

Captain Marvel may be a great fit for 3D, but I don’t think this conversion was a huge priority for Marvel. That’s not to say that it’s bad, it’s just doesn’t take full advantage of the format. The lack of images coming off the screen in particular was noticeable and there were no real standout sequences in the film where the 3D really shined. The fact that the live-action film did so well with the brightness is admirable, but it feels like Marvel just gave Captain Marvel a light dusting of 3D magic versus really taking the time to really make it dazzle. But maybe that was the intent.

Before the Window Score: 2/5

This is the element of Captain Marvel’s 3D presentation that I found the most lacking, at least from a frequency of use perspective. I don’t necessarily need objects, or in this case photon blasts, flying off the screen and into my lap, but I was expecting a bit more to take place in front of the screen than actually did. There were actually several instances where given the action that was taking place, I was anticipating a very noticeable use of this technology that would wow the senses but those moments passed without much 3D effect at all. Times when the environments and the action did stretch off the screen were done well, like during the third act and when Carol gets her powers, they just were few and far between compared to what I would expect for the material.

Beyond the Window Score: 4/5

Many of the best uses of 3D, particularly in live-action, incorporate the technology to provide depth to the image, to make it feel as though you can walk through the screen to knuckle up a Skrull wearing an old lady suit along with Carol Danvers. Captain Marvel does this well, but it is not as pronounced as some of the very best uses of the technology. Marvel seemed to be going with a less-is-more approach. Focus is deep and crisp throughout, but the depth didn’t quite reach the levels that the best 3D films do. What the depth of the image did do though was to give a nice punch to the image, making it really pop no matter what was on screen. Simply put, it looked good.

Brightness Score: 5/5

Live-action movies often falter in this category compared to their animated counterparts but I can happily say that Captain Marvel succeeds with flying colors. The image was bright throughout and I never found myself squinting or struggling with the dimming effect of the 3D glasses. There are a few notable scenes in Captain Marvel, particularly in the beginning and the end that are definitely on the dark side but, having seen the film in both 2D and 3D, I can safely say that the dark scenes in the 3D version are no harder to distinguish. Your mileage may vary of course depending on what type of 3D screening you see and the theater and projector itself. For what it’s worth I saw this in a premium format and overall I was quite impressed with the brightness.

Glasses Off Score: 1/5

Here is where the light touch of the 3D in Captain Marvel was particularly apparent. When you take your glasses off and the image looks blurry, that means a lot of image manipulation is taking place. When I took my glasses off periodically throughout different scenes in Captain Marvel, the image looked relatively normal other than the color shift. That means that the 3D effect was fairly minor. Given what I saw, you could probably watch the 3D presentation without wearing the glasses and you wouldn’t have any trouble making out what is going on nor would you suffer from any eyestrain.

Audience Health Score: 5/5

The score here in many ways reflects the implementation of the film’s 3D and for me personally, this was a smooth presentation. Despite Carol Danvers pulling absurd g-forces at times, no barf bag is necessary for Captain Marvel. The crispness of the image resulted in no real eyestrain. That and the subtle nature of the 3D effect, even during the fight scenes where the camera was moving everywhere, meant that I didn’t feel any disorientation from the 3D. This is a subjective measurement but the 3D effect just isn’t intense enough here to give problems and I would wager that people who usually get nauseous with 3D might be fine with Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel

(Image credit: Disney)

This is a tough movie to judge because the 3D wasn’t bad; the 3D that was there was solid, there just wasn’t a lot of it. It won’t satiate the biggest lovers of 3D but it isn’t diminished by the format as some conversions are. I don’t think a 3D ticket is necessary for Captain Marvel in the way it was for the must see in 3D Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse or (I would argue) Alita: Battle Angel. If you do go to a 3D screening, especially in a premium format, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed because the image quality was top notch with a bright presentation and nice depth. Captain Marvel just isn’t a 3D movie, it’s a movie that happens to be in 3D.

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Be sure to check out our full To 3D Or Not To 3D Archive.

Nick Evans

Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.