Movies:Movie Reviews:Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel
Photo: ©2019 Marvel Studios

Director(s): Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Writer(s): Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Roberston-Dworet

Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Rune Temte, Gemma Chan, Algenis Perez Soto, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Chuku Modu, Matthew Maher and Akira Akbar

Reviewed by: Ian Evans on

Release Date(s)

Mar 7, 2019 - Wide

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Captain Marvel is a superhero origins movie that begins with our heroine (Bree Larson) not sure of her origins. She appears to be a woman named Vers, who trains with, and fights alongside, the Kree warriors under the command and tutelage of Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Her mentor is constantly telling his mentee that she’d be stronger if only she wasn’t so emotional, despite the fact that she is able to shoot beams of energy from her hands. When out on a mission against the Kree’s shape-shifting enemies, the Skrulls, Vers gets captured and mind-probed by a Skrull operative, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), and she’s exposed to recurring glimpses of life on another planet, childhood adventures and military training, again with the men in her life telling her she’s not up to it.

Escaping the Skrulls, she ends up on Earth in the mid-Nineties, with the Skrulls in hot pursuit. Her arrival on the planet attracts the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury (a CGI de-aged Samuel L. Jackson). Fury’s employers were set up to fight a Cold War and its successors, not handle an alien invasion, and skepticism goes both ways as they size each other up. Vers is suddenly confronted with the fact that she may have been on this planet before, living life as USAF test pilot Carol Danvers, who worked on top secret projects with Dr. Lawson (Annette Bening). On her way to becoming Captain Marvel, Danvers and Fury must investigates what the Skrulls want on Earth, while finding out who she truly is and stopping a galactic genocide. Easy.

Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who are also credited for the script along with Geneva Robertson-Dworet, have a background in indie films like Half-Nelson. Their comfort level with the big action scenes that are a staple of Marvel films is perhaps reflected in the fact that many of the scenes take place in darkened areas with quick cuts that often obscure the fact of who is doing what to whom. People leap, objects are thrown, and power beams explode but it’s only after the battles that you have a clear idea of who’s won.

Boden and Fleck’s indie background gives them experience with films about interaction on a personal level and that’s where this story really shines. Captain Marvel is almost like a buddy cop comedy when Larson and Jackson are in scenes together. They riff off of each other, tease each other, but still have each other’s backs when the chips are down. Larson’s interactions also shine with her former pilot friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and her spunky young daughter, Monica (Akira Akbar). Lynch captures the initial bewilderment and skepticism of seeing her long-lost friend but also has the grit and determination to take on the tougher challenges she faces. Annette Bening has the dual role of playing the scientist that Danvers worked with and the personification of the Supreme Intelligence that Vers sees back with the Kree. Both roles have different needs and Bening does them both justice. Jude Law, who apparently has been working out lately constantly challenges Larson’s character and also shows that mansplaining is a galactic problem. Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos has an arc to our perception and he navigates it with nuance. As for Jackson’s Nick Fury, it’s nice to see this character finally have a great amount of screen time and Jackson gives us a skilled agent with an equal dash of humour.

Captain Marvel faced some pre-release backlash from Twitter trolls and sad fools like actor James Woods who perceived that a film that had a strong female lead who could kick ass across galaxies apparently meant that it was expressing hatred for men. Yes, there is female empowerment here both in Danvers journey to discovering herself and becoming Captain Marvel and in young Monica’s statements about role models. Yes, Danvers, Lawson and Rambeau are strong, intelligent, skilled women. As a male, do I feel belittled or emasculated by this? No and I pity the guys who do and the women that have to deal with them.

A great origin story, with growth and heart, coupled with great chemistry between the leads makes Captain Marvel a fun cinematic experience.

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