Brie Larson joins the host of top-notch actors representing the the world’s best known superheroes as Carol Danvers in MCU’s Captain Marvel. She is joined by a supporting cast that includes Jude Law as Kree commander Yon-Rogg, Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role as Nick Fury and cameos from Djimon Hounsou and Lee Pace.
One recurring concern from critics in the run up to Captain Marvel’s release was that the MCU’s first female-led film would throw away the fantastic storytelling and characterisation that had been the bedrock of the franchise in favour of putting overbearing emphasis on girl power. Thankfully, Captain Marvel manages to balance both with grace and ease. A well-paced and intriguing second and third act fill the storyline out satisfactorily and key character arcs are brought full-circle to leave the timeline ready for Avengers: Endgame to hit theatres on 25th April. There remain enough subtle nods to gender-politics to draw attention to the feminine identity of the character, with ironic demands for the lead actress to “smile more” referencing the harsh criticism Larson received after the first trailers were released.
The story is not in itself, however, perfect. The first twenty minutes are a laborious slog of exposition, world-building and generic, alien versus alien shoot-outs. Though not totally the fault of the film, as this is something that could have been offloaded to an earlier film, such as the Guardians movies, or even by splitting this story into an earlier film and a sequel. The final showdown also leaves much to be desired, as Captain Marvel effortless chews through enemy after CGI enemy in a fitting imitation of Superman, with any and all danger sucked from the story as she effortlessly wields godlike abilities. A late appearance by the Tesseract (AKA, the “Space” Infinity Stone) feels forced and unnecessary, leaving more questions than answers, as well as indirectly retconning previous events in the MCU timeline after 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.
Besides those frustrating bookends, the screenplay is a fantastically written and well-paced party, worthy of standing amongst the MCU’s legacy and complete with hilarious, laugh-out-loud moments we’ve come to expect from the franchise. Some of these gut-busting moments come in the form of references to 90s culture, such as dial-up broadband and Netflix’s biggest victim – Blockbuster. Others however come from the absolute show-stealing work of Jackson, who plays a much younger version of Nick Fury that we have come to know. The veteran actor brings an innocence and youth to compliment the hard-edge Fury, and the breakout moments of comedy are made all the funnier by their unexpected nature. Brie Larson, Jude Law and Ben Mendelsohn also excel in their roles, with Mendelsohn a particular standout.
Another important facet of the film is its of the 90s music to transition between scenes. From TLC’s “Waterfalls” to Nirvana, the film is littered with songs that will be on your Spotify playlists for months to come, and Captain Marvel can rival the likes of Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy for the quality of its soundtrack. As with all Marvel films, Captain Marvel has its share of end-credits scenes, and if these don’t get you hyped for the finale in Endgame, nothing will. One takes place during the mid-credits and another after the rolling black screen – rest assured, they’re definitely worth staying for.
This is an excellent film; only the most stubborn detractor will leave the theatre in denial of that fact. If you haven’t watched Captain Marvel yet, drop everything and go see it tonight. Whether you’re a comic-book fan, an MCU fan, a feminist, or just enjoy fun movies, Captain Marvel will leave you smiling.
By Stephen Beattie