Movie Review: Captain Marvel

Image Source: The Mary Sue

Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Directors: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Producer: Kevin Feige
Scriptwriters: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Main Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Jude Law and Akira Akbar
Released: March 8 2019
Running Time: 124 Minutes
Certificate: 12A

Captain Marvel is entry number 21 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) lineage of movies. I had previously reviewed Ant-Man And The Wasp last summer (read that review here), and I noted at the time that, whilst a very enjoyable movie, it seemed like a slight come-down following the hugely popular Avengers: Infinity War (here‘s the link for that review), through no fault of its own and purely down to timing. In the case of Captain Marvel, the opposite is the case: it stands alone as a thoroughly entertaining cinematic offering, but its spotlight will soon be taken by the upcoming Avengers: Endgame. Before then, though, it can command the attention to itself, and so it should.

Because this is not only a more-than-worthy addition to the MCU thread, but it’s also a significant one because it is the first time that the leading superhero character in a Marvel Studios flick is a female, that being Captain Marvel herself, played by Brie Larson. The development began way back in May 2013, meaning that it has been a long time coming with plenty of hype, in part due to the groundbreaking focus for Marvel on a female protagonist. But aside from the occasional sexist comment from a male character, it’s easy to forget this, as we quickly look at Brie’s character not as a female hero, but simply as a hero. In other words, the gender is not an issue or even a thought in one’s mind; her positive qualities and larger-than-life abilities make more of an impression. This is a very good thing, and this equality should continue into the future.

Onto the story at hand (which incidentally begins with a nice alternate take on the usual opening Marvel signature to pay tribute to Stan Lee, who passed away in late 2018), which is set in 1995 (complete with numerous songs, local buildings and popular culture references tailored to that year), we are introduced to the woman behind Captain Marvel, that being Vers. She is a member of Starforce, who are at odds with the Skrulls in an ongoing extra-terrestrial battle. After we see Vers’ relationships with apparent mentor Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) and her fellow Starforce member Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), we’re privy to an intense clash that sees Vers captured by Talos, leader of the Skrull army.

Once under their control, the Skrulls use specialised equipment to infiltrate Vers’ memory, which includes various moments throughout her life, along with repeated instances of Lawson appearing to speak to Vers. We soon learn, though, that this is actually a recurring nightmare for Vers, one that she cannot control or understand the meaning of. After she awakes and escapes, she crash-lands in Los Angeles, where her appearance and certainly her powers stand out like a sore thumb, not least because she breaks through the ceiling of a Blockbuster Video store. This incident leads to her meeting Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), a former SHIELD agent who works in law enforcement within LA, and initially he demands her arrest, only for her to escape; shortly afterwards, an unexpected confrontation with a Skrull leads to Fury getting on-side with Vers.

Their ongoing investigation leads them to discover that Vers, who at times of need transforms into Captain Marvel, had previously been the pilot presumed dead following an engine crash for an aircraft also seating the aforementioned Dr. Lawson back in 1989. Vers recognises her face, but not the memory of what happened; in fact, she has almost no memory of anything. To find out the truth, she and Fury visit an apparent old friend of hers, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and her daughter Monica (Akira Akbar). From there, she finds out the truth of where she was, and even who she previously was; the former Carol Danvers learns so much about her life, from which she has seemingly been swiped of all memories. She also discovers who her true allies and enemies really are, and this swerve lays the foundations for what is a major climax in the form of a huge battle between Starforce and the Skrulls.

Novices to the Marvel Cinematic Universe may find it hard to understand what is happening at first, since there is a bit of a learning curve for the MCU, but Marvel veterans – and certainly those who have followed every single entry in the movie series – will settle right in from the off. Brie is believable as our hero, and as noted earlier, it’s easy to forget that female superheroes have always been secondary in Marvel films, which is a testament to her performance and how well she applies herself to the role. We get some light relief from Samuel L. Jackson in his role as Nick Fury, and even Goose the pussycat has a couple of moments to shine.

The storytelling is very in-depth if a little complex at times, but the big swerve around midway through is a surprise that grabs one’s attention, and it sets things up nicely for the remainder of the tale. As you will expect, there are tons and tons of special effects, with CGI perhaps leaving the real lasting impression in this movie. The superpowers possessed by the leading characters make every battle eye-catching (especially if you watch this film in IMAX 3D, which I did), since you are not only unable to predict what comes next, but what you are witnessing on the big screen is truly a sight to behold. And as ever, the story is rounded off with teasers of what is to come, along with an on-screen reminder that “Captain Marvel will return in Avengers: Endgame”. Cue the countdown to what will likely be the biggest movie of 2019 …

Summing this up, I had a lot of fun watching Captain Marvel, and though it lasts just over two hours, the almost-constant action and storytelling meant that this flew by (no pun intended, given what transpires beyond the realms of planet Earth here). This is a fine way to get ready for Endgame, but Captain Marvel is a strong MCU offering on its own merit. Marvel fans will be delighted.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent