Here’s our review of ‘Captain Marvel’ where the Marvel Cinematic Universe meets Carol Danvers for the first time in a unique origin story leading into ‘Avengers: Endgame’…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Let’s be honest — origin stories in superhero films are rather hit and miss.
There are definitely comic book based movies out there that do an admirable job introducing a particular character and others that feel like an exercise in necessity just so we can get to a sequel where the story really ratchets up.
Films like ‘Iron Man’ help set the stage for an entire cinematic universe while other characters such as Thor have such forgettable origin stories that those movies are nearly forgotten.
This weekend, Marvel introduces the first female led superhero film with ‘Captain Marvel’ as Oscar winner Brie Larson is introduced for the first time ever after a dramatic post credits scene referenced her character at the end of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’.
Because ‘Captain Marvel’ doesn’t have the same kind of name recognition as say Batman, Superman or Spider-Man, there was no way around an origin story for her introduction and the film debuting on Friday does a better than admirable job of exploring her roots in a unique story structure.
In many ways, ‘Captain Marvel’ is also a prequel of sorts because the film takes place in 1995, long before ‘The Avengers’ ever came together to stop an intergalactic invasion, which means in reality she is the second superhero discovered after Steve Rogers became Captain America and was then frozen in ice for several decades.
It’s also been noted numerous times that this is the first female led superhero film promoted by Marvel and it’s about time. As great as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been over the past decade, while simultaneously introducing several strong female characters, this is the first time one of those super heroines has actually headlined a movie.
It’s a welcome addition not only because women kick ass but also due to ‘Captain Marvel’ setting the stage for ‘Avengers: Endgame’ as well as the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Think of ‘Captain Marvel’ as the ‘Iron Man’ or ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ for the newest incarnation of the MCU after ‘Avengers: Endgame’ opens in about seven weeks on April 26.
It’s a film with a perfect dose of nostalgia that introduces a new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe while giving Larson a chance to truly shine — both literally on screen and figuratively with her performance — and even Samuel L. Jackson gets a chance to stretch his legs more than ever before in a Marvel movie.
With that said, let’s get to our full review of ‘Captain Marvel’, which opens in theaters nationwide on March 8….
When we first meet Carol Danvers, she is only known by the name ‘Vers’ (pronounced like cheers) and she’s a noble warrior fighting for the Kree Empire — a technologically advanced society in the far reaches of space that is constantly battling to protect their home from the invading Skrulls, a shapeshifting race of aliens who have been attacking nearby planets in an ongoing war with the Krees.
‘Vers’ is a hotshot member of an elite Kree fighter group known as ‘Starforce’ led by her mentor named Yon-Rogg. The team is sent on a mission to engage the Skrulls on a nearby planet when Carol is captured and her memory is probed for information about a piece of technology that was being developed on planet C-53 aka Earth.
As Carol has her mind probed, she begins flashing back to a series of memories that don’t make much sense to her as she has always believed she was Kree.
When she crash lands back on Earth after fighting her way to freedom, Carol finds out that her mind hasn’t betrayed her because her roots trace back to this planet long before she was an elite warrior of the Kree Empire.
Carol starts searching for answers while simultaneously awaiting for her team to arrive to retrieve here and fighting back against the Skrull contingent that followed her to Earth.
When the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched in 2008, a star was needed that could help carry the franchise for the next decade and the man for the job was Robert Downey Jr. His portrayal of Tony Stark and by extension Iron Man helped set the stage for the next 10 plus years as he became the centerpiece of film universe.
If Marvel is looking for another franchise player for the next 10 years, they once again drafted wisely by choosing an Oscar winner in Brie Larson to portray Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel.
Larson can go toe-to-toe with acting royalty like Annette Bening as well as Jude Law not to mention spending the majority of the film in a buddy cop situation with Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a de-aged version of Nick Fury. Larson hits all the emotional beats in this movie from an enthusiastic young hot shot to a conflicted and confused fighter trying to understand where she came from. Larson also has excellent comedic timing, which is an art form all on its own.
As for the supporting cast, Jackson is one of the best actors working in Hollywood today and he rarely disappoints. Seeing him play a more upbeat version of Nick Fury, much different from the grizzled vet we meet in ‘Iron Man’ and ‘The Avengers’, is a really nice change of pace. Jackson still has his moments playing a stoic Nick Fury but the majority of his time on screen in this film is spent acting and reacting to Larson, which is similar to the chemistry he developed with John Travolta on ‘Pulp Fiction’.
Mostly behind a mountain of prosthetics and makeup outside of a few key scenes, Ben Mendelsohn plays the leader of the invading Skrulls and he more than carries his own weight in the film.
The rest of the cast is also very solid with a special nod to Law, who is a very nice addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and hopefully this won’t be the last time we see him.
DIRECTING AND WRITING
Co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck had a big task ahead of them when landing the gig to launch ‘Captain Marvel’ and they did a good job of handling a lot of top talent in this movie while still keeping the central focus on Larson and her development as future superhero.
The script — also by Boden and Fleck as well as Nicole Perlman and Meg LaFauve — tells a concise story about Carol Danvers origins both as a warrior in the Kree Empire and then through a series of flashbacks that tell about her previous life on Earth. There are definitely some well placed comedic beats throughout this film, which is a signature touch of virtually every Marvel movie that’s been made in the past decade.
It’s a strong effort from start to finish, especially given the dazzling amount of special effects that have to be used in this film because Captain Marvel is a cosmic superhero right out of the gate so that requires a lot of digital work to go alongside the acting being done by Larson and the other lead actors and actresses.
Overall, it’s a well done origin story both on the page and then in the execution on the screen without delving so deep into the character that you get lost along the way. It’s a movie that says something without saying too much.
‘Captain Marvel’ does a great job introducing a huge piece of the Marvel puzzle ahead of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ opening in April. The film serves as a well told origin story that also opens up the Marvel Universe even further because something tells me we’ve not seen the last of the Skrulls or the Kree Empire moving forward.
And perhaps my favorite part of the entire film — and this is in no way a spoiler — but Carol’s journey is a personal one built on discovering who she was and who she will become without any sort of a romantic tether that ties her story together. It’s an unnecessary trope that gets overused quite often in superhero stories and it’s a welcome change in ‘Captain Marvel’.
‘Captain Marvel’ gets five out of five on the Skolnick Scale.