Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Anna Boden/Ryan Fleck
Produced by Kevin Feige
Screenplay by Anna Boden/Ryan Fleck/Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Story by Nicole Perlman/Meg LeFauve/Anna Boden/Ryan Fleck/Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Based on “Captain Marvel” created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan
“Carol Danvers” created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan
Cinematography by Ben Davis
Edited by Eliot Graham/Debbie Burman
Music by Pinar Toprak
My concerns and apprehensions about a CAPTAIN MARVEL movie did not come about as a result of it being a movie starring a female superhero. I leave such concerns to those who limit themselves to that brand of thinking. No, my worries about the movie came from my having followed the character through several incarnations. I go all the way back to when this guy was Captain Marvel:
This incarnation of the character was a Captain of the Kree Imperial Militia and his name was indeed Mar-Vell. Upon introducing himself to Earthlings the first time he got into a scrap with some Skrull warriors who he promptly beat the piss outta and then introduced himself as “Captain Mar-Vell” it was assumed that he talked with a funny accent and was just another of the many superheroes running around Earth. He was then dubbed “Captain Marvel” and that’s the name he went by as he partnered up with Rick Jones, became an honorary member of The Avengers, an arch-foe of Thanos and saved the whole damn universe a couple of times before dying from cancer. His funeral was attended by everybody who was anybody in the Marvel Universe at that time and they heralded this Captain Marvel as one of the greatest heroes ever to have lived.
The second Captain Marvel was a black woman, Monica Rambeau. A native of New Orleans and a lieutenant of its harbor patrol, she gained the power to convert her physical body to various forms of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum. As all good superheroes eventually do, she went to New York to ask for help from The Avengers in controlling and using her powers. She became so good at being a superhero that she eventually became leader of The Avengers for a time and proved worthy of bearing the name of “Captain Marvel.” Since them she’s changed her name three or four times. Please don’t ask me to go into that. GIYF.
And then there’s THIS guy who is the ORIGINAL Captain Marvel. But we’ll get to him when his movie comes out next month. His backstory is way too complicated to get into now.
Vers (Brie Larson) is a member of an elite team of Kree Starforce warriors led by her mentor/trainer Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). He’s training her how to use her powers of photonic energy projection in conjunction with conventional combat abilities. Vers relies on them too much in battle and Yon-Rogg is trying to train her to rely more on her brains and instinct rather than just blasting everything in sight. This training is reinforced by The Supreme Intelligence, an organic artificial intelligence that governs The Kree and rules Hala, the Kree Throneworld. The Kree (who we have seen in the “Guardians of The Galaxy”) movies are at war with The Skrulls, a race of shapeshifters who conquer planets by infiltrating political/military/technological positions of influence via imitation of world leaders. During a mission to rescue a Kree undercover operative, Vers is captured by The Skrulls who probe her memories, unlocking extracted memories of a life she lived on Earth. Escaping from The Skrulls, Vers heads for Earth. She finds that The Skrulls are already there and she must find a way to prevent what she thinks is their attempt to take over Earth.
Things aren’t what they seem and Vers soon finds that the war between The Kree and The Skrulls may not be what she has believed it to be. Vers allies herself with Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D (Samuel L. Jackson) and her best friend and hotshot combat pilot Maria ‘Photon’ Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) to find out the truth. And part of that truth is the life she did indeed live on Earth as Carol Danvers, test pilot for experimental aircraft designed and built by Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening). But how did Earthling Carol Danvers become Kree Warrior Vers gifted with the abilities of superhuman strength, flight and energy projection?
CAPTAIN MARVEL has a got a lot of ground to cover as we watch Kree Warrior Vers regain her human memories and life as Carol Danvers and Brie Larson takes us through that journey with a lot of confidence, I found most appealing. She a lot of fun to watch because of that confidence. In the moments when she knows exactly what she’s doing, Carol Danvers/Vers/Captain Marvel reminded me a lot of Captain America and Thor.
And any movie that makes Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury the comedy relief is a movie I definitely have to pay attention to. And to my surprise, it works here. Due to this movie being set in 1995, this is a Nick Fury who is not the hardass, manipulative spymaster we’ve seen in other MCU movies. But this is a Nick Fury who becomes aware of superhuman beings and a larger universe and we see the beginnings of the character we come to know in later movies and I thought it was a lot of fun to see a lighter Nick Fury. Some of the best scenes of CAPTAIN MARVEL is when Brie Larson and Sam Jackson are on screen together.
I could say something about the performances of Jude Law and Annette Benning. But let’s be honest here: when have we ever seen Jude Law and Annette Benning when they weren’t good? One of the best things about CAPTAIN MARVEL is that everybody gives performances that elevates the material. Nobody had to be good as they are but the fact that they are says a lot about their respect for the material they had to work with.
Lee Pace and Djimon Hounsou appear as characters we’ve seen before in the MCU and I appreciated seeing their characters again as it all ties into the larger MCU. Lashana Lynch is nothing less than wonderful as Maria Rambeau. And their friendship together is one of the foundations of the movie because yeah, we see this kind of friendship between women in romcoms and dramas but how often do we see it in superhero movies?
And while I usually don’t get emotional at movies, I do admit to getting one mother of a huge lump in my throat at the Stan Lee tribute in not only the montage at the beginning of the movie but also (and spoilers be damned) the smile that Captain Marvel and Stan Lee give to each other on the train.
I didn’t write this review for those of us who have seen every MCU movie and will continue to see them. I didn’t write it for those who aren’t going to see it. And despite the reasons they post on Facebook and Twitter I’m fairly confident in my belief of the true reason why they won’t go see CAPTAIN MARVEL. I wrote it because CAPTAIN MARVEL is a solid superhero movie and worth your time and money to go see and I’d like for folks on the fence to know that. I like fun superhero movies with superheroes who enjoy being superheroes and CAPTAIN MARVEL checks those boxes. And for those of who are continuity freaks, CAPTAIN MARVEL does that also. There’s a lot of stuff in here that relates to other MCU movies that will have you nodding your head and saying; “Okay, I know where that goes…” more than once. Enjoy.