Brie Larson as Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel
Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Ben Mendelsohn as Talos
Clark Gregg as Coulson
Jude Law as Yon-Rogg
Gemma Chan Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva
Lee Pace as Ronan
Mckenna Grace as Young Carol Danvers
Annette Bening as Supreme Intelligence
Djimon Hounsou as Korath
Movie Review: Captain Marvel
Marvel Studios‘ Captain Marvel takes us on a new adventure where a galactic war between two alien races collides on Earth and at the center of the fight a woman rises to become the universe’s most powerful hero. Brie Larson stars as Vers, a member of the Kree-race of space warriors who’s determined to find out her connection to Earth when she crashes on it with flashes of past memories. With the help of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Vers tracks down the only person who might be the key to figuring out who she truly is–Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch). Together they become something more and unite to fight battles they never thought they could.
It’s time for a new generation to have their Superhero moment and they do in Captain Marvel, an unstoppable force of a movie with a fully formed lead and the universe at stake! Brie Larson as Carol Danvers harkens back to the leading ladies of that era, part Buffy, part Sarah Connor (in T2) and Ripley but repping Air Force and out of this world power. The film embodies what 90’s pop culture meant to those who haven’t seen it represented much on screen in the way that nostalgia for 80’s and before have for folks of those generations. She’s a supreme embodiment of the heroines we looked up to back then but ready to punch her way into the now!
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the directing duo’s capability for establishing fundamentally real relationships between characters who have just met (think Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn in Mississippi Grind) truly shines with Captain Marvel’s ensemble. When Starforce Warrior Army member Vers (Larson) falls to Earth and discovers that she had a life there, she along with S.H.I.E.L.D agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) go on a journey to find out how her past might be connected to a big war brewing that threatens human and alien life. They buddy up and uncover more information that leads Vers to discover her name is Carol Danvers, a member of the Air Force who was working on some very important top secret missions. When she reunites with her best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and her young daughter Monica (Akira Akbar), she’s reminded of the very things worth fighting for. Together with their new friends at S.H.E.I.L.D and some unlikely allies, they form what would become the seeds of Nick Fury’s big idea when the fate of all kinds is on the line.
All these things played earnestly as these characters bond with one another drives the stakes up in a way that we haven’t quite seen in many Marvel films before. You believe the friendship between Maria and Carol, how they identify one another as their chosen family. There’s a nuance between these women that is different than from how men communicate in new partnerships. A look could speak volumes in an instant and that gaze is present even if it doesn’t speak to everyone.
Centering on Maria and Carol as they form new alliances, that aren’t just quickly set up to propel action pieces, is fantastic. Lashana Lynch is the core, the person who jumps into the fray encouraged by even her kid–played by the super talented scene stealer Akbar. As Monica, Akira is an incredible protagonist who knows her mom and supports the risks she should take. She’s inspired by the women around her and not afraid or sheltered. Lynch and Akbar elevate their roles with deep empathy representing the families of servicemen and women, that live by the code of risking it all to save many. Larson’s performance as Captain Marvel lives in how even as she’s fighting to understand her untapped potential, she rises to face the challenges ahead over and over again. Utterly empowering and inspiring. Even as Jude Law charmingly foils her as a manipulative misdirect for her to play off against, there’s such great storytelling in seeing his baiting Danvers to prove her value in this big fight and she does so by sticking to her code of serving others in a revelatory way.
Jackson, Gregg, and Mendelsohn give fantastic turns as supporting cast members. They have fun and there’s Goose, the flerken-not-a-cat, in the mix which adds a lot of spontaneity to all the action. There might be a good amount of threads to follow but how everyone is connected matters and that’s a testament to the directing.
The music swells with heroic purpose. The score from Pinar Toprak (Fortnite) carves more much needed iconic themes for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And as a kid from the 90’s, I loved the film’s diegetic NEEDLE DROPS, which included Nirvana and No Doubt, which amplified the moments they were used to soundtrack Carol’s journey just like the childhood’s of many. The soundtrack is like the CD your cool relative handed to you after you said you liked a song on KROQ.
The film really only has a few flaws. Its clunky first act plops audiences on Carol’s personal journey as she traverses through space with the Kree army that took her in. We meet everyone only briefly. It sort of takes a bit to get going in that Sci-Fi sort of way as it finds its footing into a hero origin film as soon as Danvers meets Fury. The cutting back and forth between the past and current to present a stylistic approach gets a little murky but I preferred it to the straightforward origin we’ve seen too many times. It worked for me when it became more and more intriguing to follow. There’s just a lot going on at times.
When the film was announced, I was so excited to see Lee Pace and Djimon Hounsou return as their Guardian’s of the Galaxy characters but they really only have a bulky cameo and were pretty underused. And same goes for Gemma Chan, whose Mean Girl Minn-Erva I was so excited to see more of!
Lastly, the action sequences felt a bit too formulaic at the start and didn’t quite connect to the emotional stakes until the last act.
The take-off wasn’t quite smooth but ultimately Captain Marvel soars and joins the most important films of the MCU. Boden and Fleck’s character and story work builds momentum with endearing relationships that raise the stakes to the film’s empowering conclusion. The heart is there in a way that Marvel films haven’t quite fully gotten till very recently. Brie Larson is a dynamic powerhouse as Carol Danvers and I can’t wait to see her in Avengers: Endgame. The film radiates awesome female energy anyone can relate to if they choose and also gave us an amazing turn from Annette Benning in a role that will solidify her as a Marvel icon. And speaking of the like, the Stan Lee homages are both heartfelt and perfect for the film. GOOSE IS THE MVP!