Brie Larson stars in Marvel’s latest superhero offering.
For some reason, there has been a lot of hate generated towards the release of Captain Marvel, especially on social media. The idea of having a female-led superhero movie, that sees her dealing with her past trauma and identity clearly isn’t enough for some keyboard warriors to get behind.
Even a few months ago, when the poster and official stills were released, there was outrage at the idea of Brie Larson not smiling enough, unlike her male counter-parts who always look like they’re cracking jokes in every poster that Marvel has released for the last decade, apparently. Add those thoughts and the ‘de-ageing’ of one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars in Samuel L. Jackson into the mix and there lies a big problem to some ‘fans’. Even if you find yourself agreeing with these factors though, and I won’t lie, I still don’t know how I feel about the latter, you’d be hard-pressed to not come out of seeing Captain Marvel, feeling delighted that women are finally having a starring role and a prominent voice in the MCU.
We first meet Larson as Vers, on her home planet of Kree, working with her military unit Starship, training under her tutor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), who encourages Vers to tame and control her strength and powers as the rest of the team, Korath (Djimon Hounsou) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan) prepare to go to battle against the Skrulls, a group of extra-terrastrial shape-shifters. Once Starship’s plans to invade their planet fail, Vers is captured by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), the leader of the Skrulls and undergoes a series of tests to find out who she is and why she continues to have flashbacks to a seemingly different life as a former US Navy Pilot, Carol Danvers. Vers manages to escape and heads towards Earth in the 1995, comically crash-landing into a Blockbuster store, before meeting Agent (Nick) Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Talos and his group of Skrulls chase after Vers and follow her to Earth, as Vers and Fury team up to find out more information on the Skrulls and to help protect the secrets of Starship’s hidden power source as Vers realises she has to discover who she truly is, that sees he become Captain Marvel.
It’s hard to truly dive into what works well for Captain Marvel, without giving too much away. So I’ll start by saying that the chemistry between Larson, Jackson and Lashana Lynch, as Danvers, Fury and ex-Navy Pilot, Maria Rambeau respectively, is truly one of the film’s highlights. The dialogue between the three of them is particularly sharp and helps build the relationship between Danvers and Rambeau brilliantly, with the two women rightly taking centre stage mid-way through the film. Larson is perfect in the role Carol Danvers and her performance will no doubt inspire many women, who can now see a female-fronted superhero with as much of a voice and an origin to rival the male-dominated superhero space. In fact, it’s a testament to Larson’s performance that her portrayal of a very complicated character will resonate with so many people and she rightly deserves to shine in the film, given the ridiculous cynicism that has followed her on social media.
Jackson’s wit and presence as Fury is also another pleasing element of the film and he finds himself right at the heart of MCU mid-90’s references, which are both funny and cleverly done. Ben Mendelsohn and Jude Law also give excellent performances in their first outings in the MCU, and both absolutely pull off the emotional and ruthless side to their characters, that hit the right spots at the right time. The 90’s feel is also done brilliantly with jokes and references to dial-up internet, state-of-the-art pagers and a soundtrack that features Nirvana’s Come As You Are and Atomic Kitten’s Chasing Waterfalls, bringing a classic 90’s feel to the MCU.
The writing and the story is arguably what will make Captain Marvel stand out in the MCU, however. As you’d expect from Marvel, there are plenty of gags and despite a surprising amount of them not hitting the usual high-notes in one of their films, the originality of some of the jokes and references are superb. If Larson’s performance is sure to resonate with fans though, the story will also; a female superhero who is constantly being told what to do and who she is and the idea of her reaching her full potential results in an inspiring and original origin story.
Although the overwhelming feeling of the film is positive, I should also state that there are moments that I feel didn’t work. There are times where the film felt slightly messy and a loses it’s way, something that doesn’t reflect brilliantly on co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. These are most obvious during the first chase scene on Earth where Vers is fighting the Skrulls on a train, beating an ‘old woman’ up in the process and, as much as I don’t feel like I can admit this, given the backlash that this admission could see me deal with on social media, the final twenty minutes and especially the the final fight. To me, it felt the film didn’t really know where to go, and so an element of ‘and then she just smashes things and people up’ and it sadly does creep in. I will say however, this is a theme that is common in most superhero movies and always leaves me slightly annoyed. The final fight scene does feel too long and is overdone in my opinion, but it is certainly saved by a funny and heartfelt final ten minutes in a film that has plenty of those moments in it’s entirety.
Despite the unusual messiness in parts, and the usual overdone final fight scene, overall, Captain Marvel is a huge and welcome step in the right direction and gives us an inspiring story that is bursting with originality, humour, wonderful references and a female superhero who’s story and character is every bit as exciting and complex as the plethora of men’s that we’ve seen a lot more of. And… a really cute cat, called Goose.
Captain Marvel is released by Walt Disney Studios on 8th March.