Words | Lloyd Martinez Newkirk
It’s been years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had to introduce a never-seen-before character for the first time in the age-old format of the classic origin tale. Black Panther had his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War and Holland’s Spider-Man got his first web sling debut in the same film. Following their debut’s in another MCU film, they went on to scoring solo films.
With Marvel/Disney’s latest offering – Captain Marvel, we as Marvel hardcore fans and the casual MCU fan have not had the pleasure of meeting the indomitable Carol Danvers before.
Set in the nostalgic era that was the 1990’s Captain Marvel tells the tale of Vers/Carol Danvers, a Kree warrior and member of the elite Starforce who in the midst of an ancient war between the warrior race of the Kree and the shapeshifting Skrull finds herself on Earth while suffering inner turmoil with memories of a past life which she may have had on Earth.
Captain Marvel boasts a stellar cast, including Oscar winner Brie Larson as the titular hero, Samuel L Jackson returns as a younger Nick Fury (sans eye-patch), Ben Mendelson as Talos, Djimon Hounsou as Korath (who first appeared in 2014’s Guardians of The Galaxy), Lee Pace as Ronan (also returning from his first appearance in GOTG), Lashana Lynch in a scene-stealing appearance as Maria Rambeau, Carol’s best friend, Clark Gregg is back as Agent Coulson, Annette Bening stars as Mar-Vell and the Supreme Intelligence and Jude Law stars as Yon-Rogg the commander of Starforce and Danver’s mentor.
Not Your Average Origin Story:
As mentioned above, Captain Marvel is an origin story. But it is by no means your ordinary origin tale. It doesn’t utilise the standard and overused beginning, middle, end format. Instead, we’re immediately thrust into Danvers career as a Starforce member with the occasional flashback to her possible life on earth. These flashbacks are just the right amount of exposition and do not flounder on as is the case with many films making use of this kind of narrative.
Hardcore Marvel comic book fans are more than likely going to be outraged at some of the departures from the source material. Mar-Vell is female for one, but this is hardly the most jarring change from the comics. I was a bit irritated at one significant difference, but upon a chat with a fellow Marvel geek at the press screening, I accepted it. After all, we all know that Marvel comics take place in a multi-verse where anything is possible and the Marvel Cinematic Universe actually takes place in one of these universes with the Earth in the MCU being called Earth-199999 (Fun Marvel Fact).
The film is grounded (for the most part), and every act flows at a similar pace while keeping you entertained. Notably, the film’s third act doesn’t suffer from being the only remarkable act or worse an anti-climatic one. This seems to be a problem with many origin films. The first and second acts are great, and then the third act disappoints. Or vice versa has us waiting for a hero to get his/her powers in the third act while being bored to tears in the first two acts.
Charm, Laughs And Chemistry:
Captain Marvel is Marvel at it’s best. There is no lack of humour to be found in this MCU outing, and it’s undoubtedly one of the funniest films in the shared universe to date. The chemistry between all the cast members is outstanding, especially between Jackson’s Nick Fury and Larson’s Carol Danvers. In fact, this is the most screen time Jackson has had as the SHIELD agent, and it’s refreshing. Jackson gets his chance to play around with the character’s humorous side, and it’s fun to watch as the actor seems to genuinely have the most fun he has had playing the role in the eleven years that he has been a part of the MCU.
Brie Larson is wondrous to behold. The naysayers can finally shut their traps. Everything from her physical prowess to her elegant approach to the hot-headed sometimes ditsy Danvers is a pleasure to watch. This role was made for the actress. Danvers is meant to be a robust and all-powerful force as Captain Marvel, but as Danver’s who may have had a life as an airforce pilot is expected to be brash at times, working hard to achieve something despite making some rather painful mistakes to do so. Larson plays a charming, likeable and strong Captain Marvel and while she’s not the first strong female in the MCU, she makes a powerful debut as the first strong female leading, titular character in the MCU. It’s about goddamn time Marvel!
The film features two surprise performances. Firstly Lashana Lynch’s performance as Maria Rambeau is a scene-stealing albeit small role as Carol’s best friend and secondly, Ben Mendelson’s role as Talos is quite possibly one of the funniest villain roles in MCU history.
90s Soundtrack Meets Action!
As mentioned earlier, this MCU tale takes place in the 1990s before any of the other heroes have even been heard of yet. That means – a great soundtrack! Many of the tracks make their appearances at some cheesy moments, but it works for the overall feel of the film. The action scenes are badass and at time complemented with some genuinely fun 90’s treffers. The CGI behind the transforming Skrulls are superb. Seeing a human transform back to the lizard-like Skrull is both gross and fun to watch. The dogfight sequences make Top Gun look like a cartoon and the battles in space, as well as Danver’s taking flight, are just fucking awesome.
Captain Marvel most certainly is not the best MCU film. It could possibly be one of the best origin films in the MCU though. The film is one of Marvel’s funniest, nostalgia-laden and charming entries yet. Brie Larson proves that she has the chops to be the MCU’s new head honcho. Her Carol Danvers is badass, funny, confident and she’s here to stay. The film is grounded and well paced although I think this could have been a decision that was made intentionally as not to have Captain Marvel end up being superior to the upcoming Endgame and this is my only gripe with the film. It feels as if the writers and directors were pulling their punches here. That being said, Captain Marvel is adventurous, feel good and a stellar introduction to a new character. A character that is going to win over the hearts of MCU fans alike.