Adam reviews Marvel’s first female super hero entry; Captain Marvel. The 90s set sci-fi adventure film starring Brie Larson directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck has more on its mind than just kicking ass (which it does plenty of).
One of the leanest of Marvel’s recent slate Captain Marvelis designed to entertain, thrill, and most of all inspire. Inspire whom you may ask? Everyone. From the littlest of children (especially young women) to the most toxic of Men (you’ll see) the film asks one to do better and be better. All wrapped up in the biggest and best pop film package that major studios have to offer.
We open in the middle of an operation that has Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and his elite squad of commandos working for the Starforce in search of the Skrull, a race of alien “terrorists”. Amongst his crew is Veers (Brie Larson), Korath (Djimon Hounsou), Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan) are the best of the best from the planet Hala. They are specifically tasked to find Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) the leader of the Skrull. Veers, a Kree like Yon-Rogg, through a series of set pieces and a confrontation with Talos ends up on Planet C-53 aka Earth (to us Earthly Folk). A place that Veers has been having more and more frighteningly real dreams about. Veers come in contact with the 1995 version of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its seasoned Agent’s a man who goes only by Fury (Samuel L. Jackson aided by the amazing digital de-aging process they have finally perfected). Known by everyone, including his Mom as Fury, this is not the battle-hardened badass we have come to know. The battle-harden badass of this is actually Veers who finds that she may be more tied to C-53 than she was initially told. Veers with Fury as a tag-a-long are determined to figure out if Veers and her dreams of a woman (Annette Benning) and a childhood never lived are in fact real.
How Veers, Yon-Rogg, and Talos all are connected is the central story of Captain Marvel. The how’s, what’s, why’s of it all and its prequel world building is so inconsequentially ingrained into the story that you won’t really notice it until the ending. What Boden and Fleck have created (they are both directors and co-screenwriters) is a film that zigs when you expected to zag in the best way possible. The movie evolves into a story about much more than just “smashing things real good”. In fact, this lines up perfectly with the type of socially conscious dramas that Boden and Fleck are known for.
Captain Marvel represents so many things but one of the biggest signifiers is Brie Larson as a Super Star Leading actress. As the tryptic of Veers, Carol, and Captain Marvel Larson is called upon to play various versions of the Star persona. As Veers, it’s the kick-ass wise ass Soldier. As Carol, a woman who tests the ceiling of a male-led profession. As Captain Marvel a Super Hero who has just come into her power.
All these personas in one film would be enough but Larson must perform all three and does so with so much charm, grace, strength and intelligence that one would discount this as just another “superhero role”. They would be wrong. Larson makes what could have been a disaster look easy. There isn’t a moment that she isn’t up to be it verbally sparring with Samuel L. Jackson, playing a small emotional beat between friends, or unleashing choreographed holy hell to a very popular 90s Rock hit. She can do it all.
Though this entry comes at a cost approximately fifty times more than even Boden and Fleck’s biggest production it still shares the intimacy of their best work. The directing duo may have traded budget and genre, but they have not compromised just how good they are at expressing socially relevant themes in the process. Many will relish in a film that is both a grand adventure and a story of a woman finding her own identity and rejecting what the men who would constrain or label her for their own purposes. The deeper themes and what specifically Captain Marvel’s end game is… better left unspoiled. This reviewer will say this much, this film secretly lays the groundwork for what seems like a larger story that will challenge what ardent fans have come to expect from the future of MCU.
Captain Marvel is the kind of event film that Marvel excels. Though Captain Marvel like Black Panther before it is the kind of Cultural touchstone of the moment that will change this from just a film to an event. Boden, Fleck and the entire cast and crew imbued this entry into the MCU with so much heart and passion it’s hard not to see as a unique entry as it is. Captain Marvel doesn’t just stand above its Marvel compatriots, it stands above most of what’s been released in 2019 and 2018 for that matter.
Side note: Goose is going to be everyone’s new favorite new animal in the MCU right next to Rocket and Groot.