Movie Review: "Captain Marvel" (2019)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to steamroll its way through practically every other genre of entertainment out there. With a release date that just so happens to be International Women’s Day, it seems only fitting that the M.C.U. finally embraces the power of women (after being chopped literally in half by some megalomaniacal dude with a big chin). Enter Captain Marvel.
Oscar-winner Brie Larson (Room, Kong: Skull Island) is Carol Danvers (a.k.a. Vers), a Kree warrior-hero on a mission to stop the shape-shifting Skrull from invading another planet. She’s plagued by dreams of a life she doesn’t remember as an Air Force pilot. She possesses power that she hasn’t yet learned to control, a power that is nearly beyond measure. When things go wrong on her mission, she finds herself on Earth in the 1990’s. However, when she continues the fight with the Skrull, she finds that her dreams are actually memories and the war isn’t what it seems. She also meets a younger Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Samuel L. Jackson; Avengers: Infinity War) and strikes up a very important friendship that just may save us all.
Origin stories are a necessity in the world of superhero/comic cinema, and Captain Marvel does it right. The lack of a “big baddie” changes the formulaic feel that even the best superhero movies fall prey to (or, at the very least, that people bitch incessantly about). The story of Carol Danvers is one of self-discovery and empowerment, a relevant and refreshing stylistic choice for the first movie of its kind written primarily by women and featuring a solo female lead.
About damn time.
I’ll avoid getting off on a rant here, but there’s been such a flood of amazing work across ALL genres by women in the last few years. Refreshing is the right word, because the perspective of the narrative has changed. Captain Marvel is no exception; it’s a little heavy-handed even…and that works well for it. There’s social commentary on more than just feminism at play ( there’s a refugee subplot and a Supreme Intelligence crying “that’s just the human in you!” as if human is a dirty word). Yeah, it’s not subtle. It’s not supposed to be. Captain Marvel’s big fight scene (set to No Doubt’s “Just a Girl”) is a thing of beauty, and the lessons on display are morally grounded.
It’s as if the point being made is “if you have a problem with this then maybe you need to question yourself”. Hmmm……
All that aside, it’s another stellar piece of work from Marvel Studios. Brie Larson is just damn perfect as Carol Danvers- she’s funny, powerful, believably human, gorgeous, and vulnerable in equal measure. Aside from some very early missteps in the M.C.U. (sorry, Ed Norton), Marvel has been on point in their casting of the big names; Larson is another home run. Ben Mendelsohn steals every scene he’s in as Skrull leader, Talos, with charm and ease. Clark Gregg is always a fan favorite as Agent Coulson, and Samuel L. Jackson is, well, SAMUEL L. MOTHERFUCKING JACKSON!! He could read the phonebook and be captivating. The de-aging effect on he and Gregg to make them look younger is so good that you don’t even notice it. Ain’t technology amazing?
Speaking of Samuel L. Jackson, there is some truly wonderful chemistry between he and Brie Larson. Their scenes are so much fun to watch and will make you fall in love a little more with both of them. You could say this is Marvel’s unofficial Samuel L. Jackson movie. He gets to do so much more than just be a badass, and it is fantastic to behold. So thanks for that, Marvel!
The nostalgia factor is also heavy-handed here, but you can’t fault them for it. From Blockbuster Video to NIN tee-shirts to the surrounding cars in the chase scene to the sweet soundtrack, Captain Marvel makes damn sure that you know it’s the 90’s. There are some living memes in this one that serve that purpose alone. The internet scenes are solid gold. “What’s it doing?”, Danvers asks. “Loading”, Fury replies. Sure, nostalgia is always bemoaned by the cynics as a cheap pop, but if you lived through the 90’s you will smile.
Also, I have to stop and take a minute to remember the greatness of Stan Lee. No one believed in the human race itself more than Mr. Excelsior, and this movie is a great tribute to him. His spirit shines in this one. His message has always been a positive one of humanity, love, and togetherness. We miss you, Stan. The world is a little darker without you.
Of course, there is a cameo (shot shortly before his death), and it is a doozy. I know it moved Kevin Smith to tears, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t do the same for me. I can’t imagine what that felt like for him. As Snowball would say, “That’s beautiful, man!” You could argue that no one has done more for the medium in a cultural sense than Silent Bob himself. He deserves the props that come from this (final?) cameo, and it just had me so damn tickled.
Finally, can we talk about how awesome “Goose” is? That’s one cat I’d love to have. Actually, we’re NOT going to talk about Goose. You’ll just have to watch it to see what I’m talking about. The film’s MVP right there! What a sweet kitty…
The 21st film in the M.C.U. is not only a prequel and origin story but perhaps the most important of them all. Given where the story goes from here, it’s safe to say that The Mad Titan is about to be up the proverbial Shit Creek. And I, personally, cannot fucking wait.
Do I need to tell you to stick around all the way through the credits? It’s a Marvel movie, after all.