Captain Marvel is great fun, with humor, heart and empowerment. Honestly, these are qualities we take for granted in male origin stories, so it’s not lost on me that female characters have far fewer examples. There’s Wonder Woman, The Wasp in the Ant-Mans and arguably Black Widow and Scarlett Witch in The Avengers movies. Failures like Catwoman, Tank Girl and Elektra wouldn’t hurt so much if female superheroes were as prolific as Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, but now they’re back on track.
Captain Marvel has a different approach to the origin story, making Carol Danvers (Brie Larson)’s past a memory that the Skrull are searching for. That allows the film to fast forward through a lot of the basics, and make it an achievement of personal growth when she pieces together her entire memory/identity.
Larson is ferocious and joyful, enjoying her victories even as new problems arise. Carol has strong connections with Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), Maria’s daughter Monica and even Fury as they partner up. It’s downright triumphant when Carol dons the final Captain Marvel costume.
In classic Marvel fashion, Carol’s fire hands aren’t even her real power. She’s already awesome when the movie begins and then comes into even greater power. It’s always a human spirit at the heart of any superheroics, but there are plenty of splash page images when she really gets going.
Marvel is a well-oiled machine at this point. They’ve been consistent with their color palette, CGI turning splash pages into photoreal movie images and the way humor mocks the exposition. Even pop music has become a tool in the Marvel sandbox since Guardians of the Galaxy. The powerful moments definitely feel more earned in Captain Marvel than they have in some of the other entries.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has clever spy moves that help them when super strength and force won’t work. The humor includes Skrull dick jokes and ‘90s computer frustrations many of us will remember. The Stan Lee cameo is totally relevant to Stan Lee in the ‘90s!
I wish Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan) had more to do. It’s unfortunate that she didn’t get the same attention as Maria or even the commanding officer from Carol’s memory (Annette Bening). It just seems like a missed opportunity not to build up Minn-Erva more to reflect against the other characters. Nope, three fully developed women are enough.
Captain Marvel is a great introduction to Carol Danvers and I can’t wait to see her again. We will soon, just like Black Panther followed T’Challa’s solo movie very quickly with a group effort. But, Brie Larson was already my hero before Captain Marvel so this only reconfirms the obvious.