Action Adventure

Review: ‘Captain Marvel’ Brings a New Class of Hero to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

March 6, 2019Ben MK

There's something to be said for the way directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's blockbuster debut drops viewers into the middle of an intergalactic war between two alien races without so much as missing a beat. Nearly two dozen entries in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe have equipped moviegoers with enough backstory knowledge to be able to decipher all the cryptic plot points thrown their way — but there's always the risk of alienating (no pun intended) newcomers.

Enter Captain Marvel, a film that continues the MCU's tradition of bridging the gaps between previous Marvel movies and using state-of-the-art VFX technology to de-age some of the best-known stars from Hollywood's older generation. This time, it's Samuel L. Jackson's S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury who must team up with an amnesiac Kree soldier named Vers (Brie Larson), the latter of whom has quite literally fallen from the sky and crash-landed in 1995 California, where she must make sense of her fragmented memories while thwarting an invasion by shape-shifting creatures called Skrulls (led by Ben Mendelsohn's pointy-eared and green-skinned Talos).

Of course, this isn't the MCU's first foray into the space-fantasy genre, as Captain Marvel follows in the larger-than-life footsteps of such films as James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy, its 2017 sequel and Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok. However, that's not the movie's actual claim to fame, which truly lies with it being Marvel's first female-focused superhero tale, much like Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman before it.

As a former US Air Force test pilot turned photon-powered badass, Larson is the embodiment of everything the feminist cinematic movement has been fighting for. She's tough, headstrong and intelligent — but as is the case with most heroes, there's a vulnerability at her core that the film explores over the course of its narrative. And while she's joined by such familiar faces as Lee Pace and Djimon Hounsou (reprising their Guardians roles as Ronan and Korath) and Gemma Chan, Jude Law and Annette Bening (who fill out the Kree's ranks), there's never any doubt that Larson's character is the star of the show, even as spaceships are exploding around her.

Throw in a scene-stealing cat — or, more appropriately, a Flerken — named Goose, a soundtrack that harkens back to the some of the biggest hits of the '90s alternative rock scene, and a lovingly crafted tribute to the late Stan Lee hidden in plain view amongst the movie's opening titles, and what you have is something that is as much an homage to the past as it is a way forward to Avengers: Endgame.

Indeed, Captain Marvel is exactly what viewers have come to expect from Marvel Studios — it's witty, chock full of entertaining action, and peppered with fun little Easter eggs, just like its predecessors. That said, there's no denying that this is a new class of hero — and if the film's end-credits bonus scene is to be believed, it's one whose ultimate importance in shaping the future of the MCU cannot be understated.

Captain Marvel releases March 7th, 2019 from Walt Disney Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 4 min.

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