I think Marvel’s future is safe in these otherworldly hands.
Synopsis: Set in the 1990s, Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that follows the journey of Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes. While a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth, Danvers finds herself and a small cadre of allies at the center of the maelstrom. (Marvel Studios)
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Ben Mendelsohn
Writers: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, and Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Rating: PG (Canada)/ PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 124mins
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Captain Marvel follows the story of Veers (Larson), a member of an elite Kree task force who is at the centre of a war with the hostile Skrull race. After their latest mission, Veers finds herself stranded on Earth where she runs into Agent Nick Fury (Jackson). With his help, they must find Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening), a scientist on the verge of a discovery that could turn the tide in the Kree-Skrull war. However, Veers starts to uncover the truth about her past and realizes where she really fits into this vast universe.
Marvel was well known for using a pretty formulaic mold for its Phase One origin stories. While newer additions have veered away, Captain Marvel dove headfirst into its throwback feeling. This pairs nicely with the nostalgic references, themes of discovering yourself and the entertaining twists throughout. These aspects allow the story to become much more than the sum of its parts. This formulaic feel may disappoint some fans expecting another mold-breaking story, but it makes up for this through its style, special effects and characters.
Now, there are of course some issues with the script. The dialogue can feel lacklustre at times and exposition-heavy. There are a couple unnecessary throwaway moments that feel a bit forced into the plot to further the exposition or give cohesion to the cinematic universe. And the first half of the film does feel a bit slow at times; but the second half had me literally on the edge of my seat the entire time.
This is thanks to the above-average action sequences that mix the style of Marvel with the tone of retro action films. It is also complemented by some phenomenal CGI that shows how they continue to best themselves. The de-aged Nick Fury is just further improvement on the versions seen before him that shows the potential for how this technology can be used.
Ultimately, the performances helped to seal the deal with some fun, engaging and fleshed out characters. Being set in the past meant a few characters could return and while the news of some were exciting others definitely caused a few eyes to roll. Thankfully, these cameos were brief, and not overdone. This allowed the focus to be on Carol Danvers and her relationship with Nick Fury. The buddy cop feel between these two felt very organic and was one of the highlights of the film.
Jackson isn’t the only strong support for this film. Jude Law is an equally compelling character as Danvers’ mentor Yon-Rogg. Both of these characters act as the foil to Danvers dual lives making for quite the interesting dynamic. As the amnesiac slowly learning about her place in the universe, Larson is able to beautifully balance the line of curiosity, confusion and pain to become a fully formed character by the end of her origin story.
Meanwhile, Mendelsohn as Talos steals every scene he is in with a lot of charm and a surprising amount of comedy. He isn’t the conventional Marvel villain and to be honest that’s a good thing for this film. It allows the story to ride the fine line of the enemy is a product of perspective and circumstance. A special shoutout goes to Goose the cat who is one of the best new additions to the MCU.
It may not have the same cultural importance as Black Panther or the same groundbreaking impact as Iron Man, but Captain Marvel manages to tell a story worth repeating. It blends together the stylistic action of 90s films, the relatable themes of a character drama and the intrigue of a sci-fi epic. Think Guardians of the Galaxy only better. And as a Marvel origin story, it is certainly in the top three.
Overall, Captain Marvel is a thoroughly entertaining throwback origin story while managing to sprinkle pieces into the larger Marvel puzzle. While the story feels slightly familiar and some throwaway moments are unnecessary, the spectacular special effects, occasional twist, surprisingly layered story surrounded by heartfelt themes and its strong characters headlined by a dominant lead performance prove that this universe is in marvellous hands. It is not only a great female-led superhero story, but a great story in general.
*Captain Marvel opens is in theatres on March 7th*
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