Having just seen the new Marvel Cinematic Universe entry, Captain Marvel starring a terrific Brie Larson in the titular role, I came away remembering not just the film but the audience’s reaction to it. They – my son and I included – laughed out loud numerous times and yet became dead quiet during some rather tense scenes. Overall, I would say we were all thoroughly engaged throughout the 124-minute runtime (that ended with everyone applauding), and I can’t say that about too many movies that I have seen recently.
Co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (who also co-wrote the screenplay) keep the action going and our hero very busy. They also manage to give us an origin story that has to be pieced together like a puzzle because Marvel/Vers/Carol Danvers is not sure of her past and only remembers it in brief flashes.
When we first meet her, Captain Marvel is known as Vers, and she is living on the planet Kree and working with mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law in a solid performance). The emphasis in her training is to control her formidable powers, but Vers is volatile and prone to using them instead of maintaining composure.
Vers, Yon-Rogg, Korath (Djimon Hounsou), Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan) and the rest of their team are off on a mission to fight the evil shape-shifting Skrulls with whom the Kree are at war. Things don’t go as planned in the ensuing battle, and before we know it Vers is falling to earth and crashing through the roof of a Blockbuster Video store on 1994 Earth. Oddly enough, she brushes herself off like Bond and picks up a copy of The Right Stuff – a truly apropos title for her.
Vers soon meets up with a young Nick Fury sans eye patch (Samuel L. Jackson in a hilariously wonderful performance). He and fellow S.H.I.E.L.D agent Coulson (the always reliable Clark Gregg) engage in some chit chat with Vers before she is running off after a Skrull and they are forced to try to keep up with her in a wild ride that gives the chase scene in Bullitt a run for its money.
The cast also includes Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, and Lashana Lynch in roles perfectly suited to their formidable talents. Lynch particularly shines as a former fighter pilot who appears in Vers’ fragmented memories and, once they meet, helps her start to put the pieces together.
At this point the rest would be all spoilers due to the various twists and turns in the plot, and I don’t believe in them so I am not going there. One thing I can tell you is the late Stan Lee makes yet another welcome cameo – look for him riding on the train – and Disney also pays tribute to him at the start of the film. My son and I (and many other audience members) clapped and jumped for joy upon seeing him. Lee is certainly deserving and we are too.
The film is stunningly beautiful especially when featuring Vers transforming into Captain Marvel. Cinematographer Ben Davis should be commended for the visual beauty of every frame, and Pinar Toprak’s original score is fittingly vibrant and keeps pace with the continuous action.
What must not go unsaid is that Captain Marvel – like its DC cousin Wonder Woman – is notable for having a female superhero and not taking that for granted. Through the back story we come to understand that Marvel/Vers/Carol Danvers has always been told she couldn’t do something – by her father, by superiors, and Yon-Rogg – but she refuses to capitulate and gets up, brushes herself off, and then kicks ass.
I have heard people saying how important Brie Larson’s portrayal of Captain Marvel is for young girls, but I can tell you that I feel it is equally crucial for young boys like my son. After the film we went out to eat and I asked him what he thought, and he said that the film was one of the best MCU films ever, right up there with his favorite ones like Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War.
Now, that is high praise indeed coming from this little MCU aficionado, so then I asked what he thought of Captain Marvel. He said, “Oh, she’s great, and probably a lot stronger than Thor and Captain America.” There you have it, dear readers; I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Captain Marvel is an exhilarating, entertaining, and humorous entry in the MCU canon, and one that absolutely should be seen in the theater to fully appreciate its awesome beauty. Oh, and stick around after the credits, there is a scene involving Nick Fury’s pager that is a must see and sets the stage perfectly for the much-anticipated Avengers: End Game. Enjoy!!!