Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Writers: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Jac Schaeffer
Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Rated PG-13 | 124 Minutes
Release Date: March 8, 2019
Marvel Studios has come an incredibly long way since they released Iron Man back in 2008. Since then, they’ve firmly established their dominance at the box office and built a very secure fanbase while also expanding their Marvel Cinematic Universe. But even though there are strong female characters within this shared universe, none have actually led a standalone film. That is until now. Now, we have Captain Marvel, a supercharged film that takes flight from the moment it starts and never looks back.
It’s a truly visually stunning effort that has a lot of fun with some 90’s nostalgic vibes and nods to previous Marvel Studio efforts. But it’s something so much more at the same time. This film will be something that inspires and empowers females and young girls to fly higher, further, and faster than they ever did before. Check out my full review of the film here below.
Set in the 1990s, Captain Marvel takes during a previously unseen period of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In it, Brie Larson plays Vers, a noble warrior hero of the Kree peacekeeping force known as Starforce. Vers is a fierce and dedicated soldier who looks to improve her combative skills with the help of Yon-Ragg (Jude Law). While she may have the ability to use a photon blast, she cannot control it fully and is controlled by power dampeners. And Yon-Ragg assures her that she won’t be strong if she doesn’t control them.
Deployed on a mission to stop the enemy Skrulls from infiltrating a planet, Vers is separated from her troop and captured by the Kree, who are led by General Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). During their mind-probe, something jogs Vers’ memory, but she can’t make sense of it. Luckily, she manages to escape, and crash lands on the planet Earth. It’s a planet she feels like she has a connection with. So she is determined to reunite with her team and also searching for the answers that could help solve the mystery of her past. But with the war between the Kree and the Skrull finding its way to Earth, it will be up to Vers, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) to stop it from happening.
As far as Marvel Studios films go, Captain Marvel has all the bells and whistles of a comic book movie. It has that great action spectacle, stunning visuals, and comic book nods. Additionally, because its a part of the MCU, there are a few threads that connect to previous films. But Marvel Studios’ latest effort is far from being just another antiquated superhero flick. This is their first female standalone film. So they have to make sure this is a statement film. And while they may be a bit behind the curve, it has all the right stuff to be superior and it is up to the Marvel Studios pedigree.
Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were brought in to give Captain Marvel a great character-driven story. Sure enough, they delivered as Vers’ journey of self-discovery, unlocking her inner strength, and the new and renewed relationships are the heart of the film. All the action and visuals are just nice additional aesthetics that help it look super.
Larson shines as Vers aka Carol Danvers, part-human part Kree member of Starforce, a group of noble warrior heroes who help keep the peace across the galaxy. She is determined to be at the top of her class by constantly training with her superiors like Yon Rogg. It’s clear what her motivations are as visions and flashbacks reveal her father scolding her during a go-kart crash, being knocked back to avoid a baseball pitch, mocked by her male peers during Air Force training, and told by Yon Rogg that she is weak because she can’t control her newfound powers.
It’s a recurring message that will surely connect with its female audience members who have experienced these inequalities in a male-dominated field. There’s a reason why we are seeing Carol in these moments. And while it may be a bit obvious, it’s encouraging to see a film that inspires them to be tenacious and empowers them to find that inner strength to fight against those who try to outmuscle them or push them out.
Not only does Carol persist to excel whenever she is put down, but she also finds herself to be a fierce supporter of those who face the same obstacles. As much as the Captain Marvel is about inspiring and empowering, it is also a celebration of sisterhood. And that is clearly on display when the film focuses on Carol’s friendship with Maria, a fellow Air Force pilot who believed that her friend and staunch supporter was lost.
We don’t get to see a relationship like that very often, especially in a film of this size. Single mothers and people of color are also presented in this film. Here, Maria is a single black mother and an Air Force pilot. Like Carol, she also faces the same obstacles and breaks through the glass ceiling. And whenever she finds herself stuck, she can rely on Carol to back her up.
Jackson’s Nick Fury is a less cynical agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. at this point in the MCU. Skeptical of who Carol claims to be, he joins her on her mission to reunite with her troop, all the while finding out that there are some secrets about her that she doesn’t know herself. And soon, they discover there is a bigger conspiracy at play. This allows for a great buddy cop vibe as one plays a hot-shot cop and the other goes one more or less by the book.
But one of the most surprising things about the film is Ben Mendelsohn. He steals the film as General Talos, a character with a lot more depth to him than appearance and powers. And with the Skrull’s shape-shifting abilities, he is able to deliver a chameleon-like performance that brings in humor and heaviness.
However, if there is one character we should all be keeping our eye on, its Goose the Cat. And I’ll just have to say only that, otherwise I’d be revealing spoilers.
Captain Marvel has a lot to say and says it with nuance and subtlety. But it never forgets that it is also a comic book film. Pulling from the Kree-Skrull war story arc, the film explores an unseen corner of the MCU. We get to see Hala and the Supreme Intelligence. As for the war itself, it is a conflict that may have carried on a lot longer than some of the characters know, but at the same time, the film doesn’t bother too much with over-explaining the war. Though it is restrained, it does find a way to expand the MCU by exploring unseen corners of it.
The film also separates itself from its predecessors by when it’s set. The film takes place during the 1990s, so you’ll get to see a lot of those nostalgic touches throughout. Not only visually with the dated cars or things like Blockbuster Video, but also auditory through much of the selected music. It may be a bit obvious, but it’s going to be great to see how many young fans born after the 2000s react to music from the 90’s like Garbage’s “I’m Only Happy When It Rains,” Nirvana’s “Come As You Are,” Salt-N-Pepa’s “Whatta Man,” TLC’s “Waterfalls,” and No Doubt’s “I’m Just A Girl.”
Captain Marvel is one of Marvel Studios’ strongest efforts to date. It underlines the importance of female representation in film. Girls can see themselves on screen. Mothers will be able to relate to Maria’s story. And those who are undermined are able to feel empowered to fly higher, further, and faster. Not only that, but it is a superior comic book movie in every way. One that is able to deliver a great message and still look visually stunning from beginning to end.