Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) must figure out her past as she’s caught in the middle of a galactic war between the Kree and the shapeshifting Skrulls.
Captain Marvel is the twenty-first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and for all, it follows the standard MCU template with its action, humour and charismatic characters, it still manages to be its own thing. Starting the film on another planet with a whole host of characters we’ve never met before is a bold move but the easy dialogue between Kree warrior leader Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and Carol (or Vers as she’s known by the Kree) fills in a lot of the gaps. However, you are given the bare bones of information about both the Kree and the Skrulls and why they are at war, which is unfortunate as it doesn’t really flesh out either of these two races especially when this conflict is such a major part of the film. Once the character introductions are done, Captain Marvel sets off at an almost relentless pace and it never really lets up.
Unlike the usual superhero origin story, this one isn’t linear. We meet Carol when she is a tough soldier with superpowers who is constantly told to control her emotions and is unaware of her past, or her true potential. It is as the film progresses that she begins to get flashes of her past and starts looking for answers. As she learns who she is, her powers truly become a part of her, and she becomes a stronger hero. Brie Larson is great as Carol and can subtly show her many facets, even when she’s is stoic-solider-mode.
After a mission goes wrong Carol, and some of the Skrulls she was fighting, crash land on Earth. There she meets Agent Nick Fury (a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson and the effects really are top notch) and they team up to try and stop the Skrulls before they invade Earth. This turns the film into an almost buddy-cop-comedy with sci-fi elements. Larson and Jackson have such great chemistry and their banter as their characters learn to trust one another flows so easily. Having a younger Nick Fury here really adds layers to the character we’ve known for the past ten years. Here we have a Fury that’s not jaded by bureaucracy or world-weary, instead, by meeting Carol, his eyes are open to, literally, a whole new universe and a new appreciation of what it means to be a hero.
As Fury and Carol’s investigation continues, they encounter Carol’s former best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and through her, more of Carol’s past is revealed. For being what could typically be a minor character (and what could fall into a black best friend cliché), Maria plays a vital role to not only Carol’s story, but to the action and the story as a whole, while still being a pretty well-rounded character herself. Also got to mention the Skrulls leader Talos played by Ben Mendelsohn, he is a very compelling character and could well be one of the best villains the MCU has seen for a while.
Captain Marvel takes a while to get going, but once Carol finds her feet it’s a lot of fun. The third act is a non-stop thrill ride as Carol fights for what’s right with help from some unlikely allies – including a cat. Captain Marvel the character and Captain Marvel the film have been framed as feminist and empowering in the run-up to its release, while it could’ve delved deeper in both of those messages, one thing’s for certain; Carol Danvers is a stubborn, brave and self-assured woman who is also sometimes vulnerable and makes mistakes but owns up to them. She’s not perfect but she is confident in her abilities and is not afraid to embrace her emotions, no matter what some people may say they are a weakness. And that is a character I’m happy to see on screen.