Updated: Mar 10, 2021
Well, here we are, folks. We're at the stage where the Marvel Cinematic Universe has introduced to us its first female superhero in a main leading role. And her name is Captain Marvel.
Set in 1995, the movie followed her as she was first introduced to us as one of an alien race called the Kree, under the name Vers. There, she engaged with them in combat against another alien race called the Skrulls, against whom they fought in a war for many years. During a freak encounter with the Skrulls, she ended up getting seperated from them and the Kree as she got hurled into space and stranded on Earth, while also crash-landing into...
Wow! What a difference!
Anyway, from there, she underwent a journey of self-discovery, experiencing a series of memories being triggered inside her one by one that acted as pieces of the puzzle she had to put together. And the puzzle was her identity and her life on Earth. She went through on her journey with the help of Nick Fury and, eventually, her old friend Maria, who all tried to help her remember who she was before she was involved with the Kree. Bit by bit, she discovered that she was a former U.S. Air Force Pilot named Carol Danvers, and that she got involved with the Kree when a noble Kree named Mar-Vell approached her under the guise of her Air Force alias – and, subsequently, Carol's most trusted instructor in the field – Dr. Wendy Larson.
Along the way, Carol and her friends had a few more encounters with the Skrulls, who can shape-shift into anyone, but it wasn't until one of the Skrulls, named Talos, approached Carol about his predicaments and that of his race, as well as what the war they fought was being fought over. This in turn led to some discoveries being made not only of Carol's identity, but also of the two alien races whose war Carol inadvertendly had a role in.
At first glance, the storyline for the movie seems a little complicated, and it got to a point where even I want to watch this again so I can get a clearer understanding of everything that's going on. Not only that, but the story of Carol discovering who she was and how she became a superhero seemed predictable. The first time time you read it, you can figure out right away what will happen to ensure it for Carol. However, it doesn't hurt the movie because one of the movie's strengths was how Carol discovered who she was and how she became a superhero. The movie threw so many twists and turns at us that it left us in as much astonishment over what's going on in the movie as Carol was, adding to the experience that comes with watching this movie.
The visual effects, as to be expected in a Marvel movie, were impressive, though some were more impressive than others. They added a sense of epicness to some of the major battle sequences, especially at the ending. And in the case of the private room of the Kree Supreme Intelligence, it was presented with a sense of ethereality, but also, as it was explored further, of uneasy otherworldliness.
And, of course, the real highlight of this movie's visual effects was the de-aging of Samuel L. Jackson as a much younger Nick Fury.
Whenever I thought of Samuel L. Jackson's rendition of Nick Fury, I always thought of him as having a bald head, bearing an eyepatch, and almost immediately having a gun at the ready whenever he spotted an enemy thirty feet away from him. Here, he was presented with a visual overhaul that clued us in that this was the same guy, just younger, and that also tied in nicely to how Jackson looked in the 1990s. And I can safely say that the end result looked sort of like how Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction would've looked if he was groomed and given a haircut. What's even better is, the visual overhauls also tied in nicely to his personality. The Nick Fury of the 90s felt like a very upbeat and more down-to-earth (no pun intended) kind of guy, especially after he met Carol. He also expressed an essence of optimism that we never saw in Nick before, as well as a shade of confidence that only matured with age with him by the time he became the more courageous and aggressive Nick Fury we would've recognized from the other Marvel movies.
Some of the supporting characters in the movie were terrific as well. Maria, Carol's old friend from back in the Air Force, was a great moral support for Carol who also threw in some delightfully sassy quips every once in a while. And her daughter, Monica, was delightful in her own way, thriving on childlike humor instead of childish humor.
And the cat, Goose? I'm not even kidding, he was pretty much as big a knockout as everyone else made him out to be. Never mind that he carried on in his scenes in his own feline ways. I'm not giving away why he's awesome, you just have to see him to understand all the worship centered around him. I assure you, I think you'll be as tickled and wowed by him as I was.
Now, I will admit, when I first read about Talos, the Skrull, played by Ben Mendehlson, I always kept expecting him to be the villain. Not helping matters was when I saw the photos of Talos; he looked creepy and intimidating, just like what any Marvel villain that I've seen before him looked like. And when I saw his first few scenes in the movie, he also cracked some one-liners about someone else's predicaments, too, making it seem like he would've been one of the more comedic of the Marvel villains. However, once he spilled out the story of his and his people's predicaments, as well as what they were fighting against the Kree for, my perception about him changed completely. This was one of the major twists in the movie that caught me off-guard. From there, I ended up sympathizing with Talos and his people, and I felt my hatred for the more reckless and selfish of the Kree brewing more intensely. There were two more factors that added fuel to the flames. One, Carol was involved with the Kree when they found out that after Carol blew up the power source from their homeworld on Mar-Vell's ship at Mar-Vell's request, Carol was hit by, and infused with, the incoming power. So, because the Kree was after that power for their own means, they took her in to train her as one of their own while also telling her to not let her emotions get the best of her. In other words, they kidnapped her. And two – and this was where it was really hammered home – one of the Kree leaders turned out to be none other than a much younger Ronan the Accuser, the main villain of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I knew there would be a villain in Captain Marvel, but it wasn't often where we would've had an alien race for a villain...unless you count the Sovereign from Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, who would eventually have a much bigger role down the line.
As unique as that was, however, that wasn't enough to have them stand out as truly memorable villains. They just seemed a little weak, especially compared to the villains from at least five of the latest Marvel movies.
And finally, you have the main character herself, Carol. When thinking about how she stood out in her own introductory movie, her vulnerabilities showcased her character, as she strived to find out who she was before her entanglement with the Kree. Now, some may think that this is a problem, since she wasn't introduced with any major flaws...expect, possibly, for her being a little stubborn. And yes, I tend to agree that that could be a problem. However, the only difference is that, like T'Challa in his own introductory film before her, the situations and circumstances at hand helped define who she was, where she came from, and what she could've been capable of with her newfound powers. In a way, it was sort of laying out the groundwork for who Carol was and how she will have been in the movies to follow. And, for a movie that took place in the 1990s, Carol did establish some of the qualities that I would've recognized whenever I thought of strong female role models from the 1990s: bold, adventurous, and spunky.
While I'm at it, I should also say right off the bat that Brie Larson absolutely sold this character. What Carol lacked in terms of characteristic complexities, Brie made up for with her physical prowess and emotional strength. Brie added layers of empathy in her performance to emphasize Carol's humanity, along with an essence of fierceness to showcase not only how strong Carol was, but also that she was not one to be messed with whenever she dealt with enemies; one wrong move, and she would have walked all over you. Those all may have played a part in how Carol was such a memorable superheroine, especially when you compare her to, say, Wonder Woman.
There were other aspects of the film that I enjoyed, too. To start off with, I noticed some people say that the idea of Captain Marvel taking place in the 1990s, along with some of the product placement from that decade, more or less hurt the movie. Me? I never felt like they went overboard with the 90s references. It felt just right. They did their job of conveying to us that the movie took place in that decade, while both gliding along nicely with the story of Captain Marvel and even quenching our nostalgic thirsts in the process.
Two, when the movie opened, the Marvel Studios logo was studded with an engaging tribute to Stan Lee, who just passed away late last year (as of this writing). This felt like a great way to memorialize his legacy. Even his cameo in the movie, as insignificant as it was storywise, was brought into a little more focus, and admirably so.
And three, just as the movie wrapped up as I saw it in theaters, I found it to be so exciting, that I was hoping, and yet would not be surprised, for the movie to get a sequel so that we would see more stories about Captain Marvel. Fortunately, and surprisingly, the news came about back in October (also as of this writing) that Brie Larson signed on to star in up to seven films as Captain Marvel. Seven movies! And that's including this movie and Avengers: Endgame, which leaves only five movies to go. A pretty mammoth task the first time you read about it, but hey, if most of the members of the original Avengers managed to star in at least seven movies and grow from relatively obscure superheroes into progressively iconic superheroes and strong characters at every turn, then by God, so can Captain Marvel. That makes the likelihood of a sequel, or two, of Captain Marvel even stronger, so the future is looking pretty bright for Carol right now.
Well, this may not be a masterpiece of superhero cinema like Black Panther, but aside from the villains, what's not to like about Captain Marvel? As a whole, this movie did a great job of getting fans like me pumped for Avengers: Endgame. And on its own, it did a nice job of putting an often overlooked comic book character into the spotlight with enough good storytelling to arouse franchise potential, as well as enough character explorations to have us root every step of the way for the MCU's first main lead superheroine. Fly on in, and prepare to be amazed.
Siegel, Tatiana, and Borys Kit. “Scarlett Johansson Lands $15 Million Payday for Black Widow Movie.” The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Oct. 2018, www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/black-widow-movie-scarlett-johansson-lands-15-million-payday-1151328.