THE STORY – Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.
THE CAST – Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg & Jude Law
THE TEAM – Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck (Directors/Writers) & Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 124 Minutes
By Kt Schaefer
It has taken over 10 years of developing the Marvel Cinematic Universe for Marvel to make a film that is led by a woman character, but with “Captain Marvel” they ended that sad streak with a huge and wonderful bang. It combines Carol Danvers origin story with a more recent period piece and a side bonus of providing even more insight into the little-known Cosmic side of Marvel leaving us with something that never feels like boring backstory, which is a common downfall of a superhero’s first film. However, because of how the film plays out it is imperative that I do not give away much of the story itself, so I’ve decided to err on the side of too little info rather than too much and won’t be giving away any major plot points.
The film gets right to the point, dropping viewers into the story without any preamble. We meet a woman known as Vers (Brie Larson) as she is learning the ways of the Kree warriors with the help of Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) who declares her as unsure in her powers and needing to learn to deny her emotions if she is to truly succeed. Despite his words, she is determined to become a worthwhile warrior and when she is sent on her first mission she takes the lead, which unfortunately ends up leaving her in Skrull hands as they dig through her lost memories trying to discover important information. Once she realizes what is going on, she fights her way free and finds herself in a stolen escape pod, plummeting down to a planet she only knows by its alphanumeric designation.
When the escape pod disintegrates around her, she crashes through the roof of a Blockbuster Video, and it becomes clear she has landed on Earth during the ’90s. Before long she is found by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who is skeptical of her story, until he quickly becomes pulled into a chase between Danvers and the shapeshifting forces of the Skrulls as they try to recapture her, while she tries to find out why they have come to this planet and what those strange memories she saw meant. From that point on the film flickers between a buddy cop comedy, a space opera action extravaganza, and a heartfelt exploration of what it means to become a superhero.
More than ever before, Marvel crams plot into every second of the film, requiring a lot of set up that adds a significant amount of depth to the story, but it does leave the second act feeling a bit slow. However, once the third act begins, things take on a furious pace that leaves viewers breathless by the time it’s all over. At times the dialogue veers straight into cheesiness, but it’s easily overlooked considering the perfectly 90’s setting that makes it feel almost appropriate. The visual effects, however, are far from the ’90s, with some truly gorgeous scenes that give an insight into the world and power of the Kree as well as Carol herself.
This being Marvel’s first woman-led superhero film, there are a lot of expectations and pressures in regard to how they will portray her, Brie Larson’s acting, and the general tone of the story. Thankfully, Marvel and Larson did a great job creating a well-rounded character that is neither a caricature of a woman nor falls into the trap of the Strong Female Character. Carol Danvers is a smart, confident character who refuses to accept the limitations placed on her by any society, whether Kree or human. Her origin doesn’t need to explain how she becomes confident, she already knows her own worth when we meet her and refuses to accept anything less. Instead, her journey is much more about embracing the power that lies within her and finding out the truth that lies buried in the past.
While “Captain Marvel” is a fun and new story that stands well on its own, it is also a fascinating addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its expansion on the current storyline and the new possibilities this adds to the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame” of seeing Captain Marvel take on Thanos are well timed to up the hype of Endgame’s release. Brie Larson gives a great performance, one that provides a unique addition to the stable of the MCU and you can’t help but wonder how she will play off the team of Avengers we are already familiar with. For so many reasons it is well worth any fan’s time to see “Captain Marvel.” It is a landmark event in the Marvel universe and also happens to be an incredibly entertaining two hours.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – A fun story that introduces a new and interesting hero that adds something exciting to the Marvel Universe. Great visual effects and acting by Brie Larson make for an enjoyable watch that embraces a confident and smart woman character, something rarely seen in this genre.
THE BAD – Occasionally cheesy dialogue and a slow second act that is important to the story, but makes the film feel like it drags.