Movie Review: Captain Marvel (2019)


Title: Captain Marvel
Release Date: March 8, 2019
Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Summary/Review:

The latest Marvel superhero debut movie is kind of origin story in reverse where we meet a superhero in action and unravel her past along the way. Vers (Brie Larson) is a member of the alien people known as Kree, has superstrength, and serves on the Starforce, fighting a generational war against their shapeshifting enemies, the Skrull.  Vers cannot remember her past, but has a recurring nightmare about being in a battle with an older woman. On a mission, Vers is captured by the Skrull, and making her escape, crash lands on Earth in 1995.

Defying orders from her commander and mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), Vers begins to investigate a link between her dreams and this strange planet she’s landed upon.  She also attracts the attention of the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).  With Skrull on their heels, Vers befriends Fury (younger and more cheerful and naive than we’ve seen him in other films) and they head on a buddy road trip.  Along the way they pick up a clever, orange tabby cat named Goose (the MVP of this movie who deserves a spinoff), and  former Air Force pilot Maria Lambeau (Lashana Lynch), with her adorable and scene-stealing daughter Monica (Akira Akbar).

There are some big twists in this plot line, of course, which I’ll go into in the spoiler section below.  This is the first MCU film with a woman as the lead character which is a little bit surprising partly because Wonder Woman felt like it belongs in the Marvel universe and partly because there are a number of prominent women characters in the Marvel universe.  Nevertheless, this is an about time moment for Marvel, and the plot hinges on the fact that in patriarchical societies women with great talent, intelligence, and power are held back from reaching their full potential by men (and sometimes even by other women).  Apparently there are members of my gender out there who were too dim to see this plot, though.

The movie is set in the 1990s, so the soundtrack is scored well to some alternative rock hits of the era.  There are a few jokes based on being in that era (Vers falling into a Blockbuster video, Vers disguising herself in a grunge outfit, the great impatience of waiting for a computer to open a file), but they don’t everdue the nostalgic memory of an era in place of the reality that some movies do.  I’m particurlarly fond of how well Larson and Jackson work together, as they have a lot of chemistry, which is nice since they are basically the new kid and the veteran of 8 MCU films thus far.  Lynch is also a character who works well with both Larson and Jackson, and I hope we’ll be seeing more of her in the MCU.

There are a lot of action sequeneces as you would expect from a superhero epic, although I think they’re secondary to Vers journey to becoming Captain Marvel.  Although, as an archivist I do appreciate that there’s a fight scene set among compact library shelving.   This is an entertaining, humorous, and inspiring film, and among Marvel’s best work.

Rating: ****

 

SPOILER SECTION

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Okay, if you’ve scrolled down this part, you’re ready for my thoughts on some of the film’s plot twists.  First of all, I totally misled myself on where the story was going even though the clues were there.  I was convinced that Vers was actually a Kree and would take on an Earth identity as Carol Danvers as opposed to her being born on Earth.  Very dumb of me, I know.

I also felt that the transition from the Skrull being villainous and hunting down Vers to actually being refugees attempting to escape the Kree happened very suddenly.  Maybe there were clues and I just missed them, but it seemed abrubt when Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) wandered in wearing a turtleneck and sipping a soda, and suddenly everyone believed him.  They also laid it on thick with the cute Skrull kids in the refugee camp on the space station, which is just a cheezy the way to build sympathy.  I’m not saying I don’t like the way the story went though, just got a little whiplash.

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