REVIEW: CAPTAIN MARVEL soars; she has nothing to prove
She is captain. See her soar. CAPTAIN MARVEL is FINALLY here and she brings with her a whole new brand of super hero. Sure, there’s already some pretty strong, badass, female super heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but Carol Danvers — and her super persona, Captain Marvel — is the first female to feature in her own standalone film. Hard to believe, right? Perhaps not.
Captain Marvel’s arrival is probably one the most highly-anticipated Marvel Cinematic Universe character debuts ever since we were first teased of her very existence following the devastation of AVENGERS INFINITY WAR. So just why did former S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Fury — when all hell was breaking loose in the universe — think of nobody else for salvation from the gauntlet of Thanos? CAPTAIN MARVEL helps establish the connection.
Carol Danvers is in a whole world of confusion at the start of the CAPTAIN MARVEL and on her journey she discovers quite a few things — not just about herself and her own foggy history — but also of the major chaos in outer space between an alien race called the Kree and another called the Skrull. The former are a foe we’ve seen in several times before in the MCU (especially in ABC’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.) and the latter we, quickly discover, are a nefarious race of shape-shifters.
What’s so unique about this tale of supers and aliens is that it’s set smack dab in the middle of the 1990s. This becomes immediately clear when our heronie crash-lands inside of a Blockbuster Video and takes out a cardboard Arnold Schwarzenegger along the way. Word to the wise: Stick with her if you want to live.
It isn’t long into exploring 1995 Los Angeles that Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) comes into contact with her Skull foes including leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) and a few unexpected fresh-faced Terrans named Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who are quite a bit younger than we’ve ever seen them before in this universe. She finds herself entangled with the dashing two-eyed Fury on a mission of survival and discovery of just what exactly her powers mean in contrast to what she learned from her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Oh, and there’s a tabby cat named Goose. Keep your eyes on Goose.
I feel any level of description on my part of how great it is to have a strong female super who can hold her own would fall just short of mansplaining but what I can say is that the finesse and agility with which Marvel handles the current female-empowered climate is masterful. So often in popular culture, we find an empowered female character in a story and the sweet validation is for her to slug him across the face after he calls her sweet-heart. Marvel spares us the tired and trite cliche and handles these interactions in a perfectly Marvel sort of way.
During one pivotal fight with Yon-Rogg, who questions her ability to control her powers, she exclaims triumphantly: “I have nothing to prove to you.” There is far more at play in the interchange than questioning her ability to fight. The subtext was so thick you’d have to use a star-forged Stormbreaker to cut through it. It’s fantastic.
A large majority of the movie takes place on Earth which seems almost foreign in the MCU of late but there’s a distinct tangibility to everything we see on the screen thanks in part to directors’ (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck) heavy reliance on shooting as much as they could practically and on-location. Massive hangars, sweeping desert landscapes; all working together to create an air of authenticity that suits not just filmmaking in general but as a sort of nod to ’90s filmmaking. Even the car chases somehow have a gritty realistic flair. You almost expect to find lieutenant John McClane or detective John Kimble behind the wheel as the chase maneuvers between the San Fernando Valley to Downtown LA in a matter of minutes. Yippee-ki-yay!
The soundtrack is also deliciously full of 1990s tunes from No Dobut and Garbage to Salt-N-Pepa and R.E.M. so the nostalgia is well-checked to match the flannel tie-around accenting your grungy “the Rachel” haircut.
Other juicy teasers we’ll leave you with are that we learn how Captain Marvel gets her name (ok, maybe that’s a given) but also how Fury loses his eye and how he gets the idea (and name) for the Avengers Initiative.
End Credits scenes? Yep. Two. Spoilers? As if! What I will say is that you’re probably not going to pick up much from either scene considering how little story is left to tell for this phase in the MCU but it will definitely get you amped up for this spring’s AVENGERS: ENDGAME.
CAPTAIN MARVEL lands in theaters March 8, 2018.