Friday Film Review - "Captain Marvel"

Mar 15, 2019

Don’t let any Marvel Comic fatigue scare you off from seeing “Captain Marvel” Plus, there’s a cat too!

This week’s film is “Captain Marvel”, starring Brie Larson, Jude Law and Samuel L. Jackson.  “Captain Marvel” is an origin story of one of the most powerful superheroes in the seemingly endless Marvel Universe.  The movie begins with the introduction to a human named Vers, played by Brie Larson, who develops super powers after a mysterious interaction with an alien race.  Where and when the alien interaction occurred isn’t revealed at the start of the film as Vers has no memory beyond her arrival on the alien planet. Vers is trained by the Kree, an alien race of self-described peacekeepers. The Kree’s best warriors make up an Intergalactic Starforce, guarding civilizations against colonization by some nasty aliens called the Skrulls.   After a harrowing escape following a battle with the Skrulls, Vers crashes on Earth. The cinematography on Earth mimics neorealism expected from Directors Ana Boden and Ryan Fleck.   These scenes and the culturally relevant jokes are closer to Will Smith’s reluctant superhero parody, “Hancock”, than the regular Marvel works. The resulting style, bordering on campy, embodies a goofiness true to earlier comic book depictions of this particular hero.  But this Captain Marvel is no Shazam.  She is strong, resilient, compassionate and an unyielding defender.  Vers soon interacts with early members of SHIELD, led by Nick Fury, discovering her true identity and fate are intertwined with a missing scientist on Earth.

Strong supporting roles including Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull’s leader, and timely punchlines from Nick Fury interacting with a cat overcome an otherwise slow and haphazard script to deliver an entertaining and more heartfelt origin story than the typical “how I got my power” yarn.  By way of the obvious comparison, it is safe to say if you liked “Wonder Woman”, you will love “Captain Marvel”.       

So, on my ski trail rating system, “Captain Marvel” earns my highest BLACK DIAMOND ski trail rating.   “Captain Marvel” represents another great example of the need, importance and business success of inclusion of women as strong leads in the superhero world and filmmaking generally.   However, to assess its real measure, one need look no further than the highest authority possible, my 7 year-old son Cormac, who in disgust regularly tries to rip the Wonder Woman sticker off his mom’s car.  The simple fact that Cormac left the theater wanting to be Captain Marvel as embodied by Air Force pilot Carol Danvers illustrates mission accomplished and all the endorsement any Marvel Universe fan should require.  Marvel Universe’s signature post-credit scene which ties “Captain Marvel” back to “Avengers- Apocalypse” and teases the upcoming “Avengers -Endgame” is just an added bonus.  This film and its hero stand tall on their own.

“Captain Marvel” is rated PG-13 for sci-if violence, action, emotional distress from DOS based computer systems and shape-shifter elder abuse.