Film Review - Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel (2019), PG-13, 2h 4min - I saw this film a couple weeks back on opening weekend, but a crazy schedule has kept me from getting this review together and posted until now.  At this point, most everyone with any interest in it has likely seen it as it has dominated the box office over the last two weeks.  Captain Marvel is the twenty-first entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and more importantly, is the first focused on a female lead.  It also happens to be the first MCU film that acts as a prequel as opposed to continuing the current timeline.

Captain Marvel is set in the late 1990's and introduces us to Vers/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), a Kree warrior who finds herself on Earth while in pursuit of fleeing Skrulls (alien shapes-hifters) after her unit's mission - to rescue a Kree asset before it falls into the hands of the Skrulls - falls apart.  Once on Earth, she begins regaining slivers of memories, leading her to question her experiences as well as her own sense of who she is.  As she searches for the Skrulls she crosses paths with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), a young not-yet-director Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and begins to piece together clues not only about her past, but also about the Skrulls, who may not be quite what she expected. 

In my opinion, Captain Marvel did a good job of giving us an origin story for Carol, while weaving her into the previously existing fabric of the MCU in a way that will allow her to organically fit into the events of Avengers: End Game in another month.  It was middle of the road MCU in my book, not the best, but certainly not the worst.  Big bonus points for me personally as the '90s setting was a huge dose of nostalgia.  From Carol's crash landing in the Blockbuster Video, to the various band posters in store windows, to the grunge look she robbed from the mannequin to blend in, to the music selection, to the computer/communication tech throughout. 

This version of the Captain Marvel character is based upon the comics of the last seven years or so when Carol Danvers took over the moniker under the pen of Kelly Sue DeConnick (who actually has a very brief cameo in the film).  I am personally not very well versed in the history of Captain Marvel, and am really only familiar with the Carol iteration.  That being said, I felt as though this was a very faithful, well done adaptation of that version of Captain Marvel.  I know others who grew up reading the original Mar-Vell version and were a bit disappointed as this wasn't 'their' Captain Marvel, which is completely understandable.

I've seen some complaints online about Brie Larson's acting and that it was a bit stiff.  Honestly, I feel like she nailed it.  Her character is out of place both physically and mentally, and is constantly trying to adapt to a new 'normal' the more she learns about herself and her past.  Larson's won an Academy Award as Best Actress folks.  She can act.  The film is also unabashedly pro-women.  There are a number of strong female characters - Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Benning), Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), Monica Rambeau (Akira Akbar) - in varying capacities throughout the film, which is great.  It was also fun seeing a younger Fury and Coulson (Clark Gregg).  Setting the film in the past worked well in that it allowed these characters to be included to help tie it to the rest of the current MCU, but without having them overshadow Carol and the rest of the newly introduced supporting characters.  Not to be forgotten, Jude Law (Yon-Rogg) and Ben Mendelsohn both turn in compelling, nuanced performances. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Captain Marvel and am very much looking forward to the role she will play in Avengers: End Game next month.  As we see End Game tie up the first ten years of story for the MCU, I feel like Captain Marvel (along with Black Panther) is poised to take the lead over the next few years.  And I think that the MCU that we have come to know and love is in pretty good hands.












*****SPOILERS*****

- This should probably go without saying for MCU films at this point, but there are TWO post-film scenes: the first, mid-credits shows Goose coughing up the Tesseract on Fury's desk.  The second, post-credits gives us Carol's introduction to the Avengers after she received Fury's cosmic page for help (from one of the post-film scenes on Avengers: Infinity War).

- The original Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) first appeared in Marvel Superheroes #12 in December, 1967 by Stan Lee and Gene Colan.

- Carol Danvers first appeared as Captain Marvel in Avenging Spider-Man #9 in July, 2012 (followed closely by Captain Marvel #1 also in July, 2012), both written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. 

- Carol has a pretty convoluted background in the comics.  I felt like this version of her origin not only fit well with the MCU, but was a nice 'cleaned up' version of her story in general. 

- DeConnick's cameo is pretty quick and easy to miss.  When Carol steps off the subway at the station and loses the Skrull she is following in the crowd, DeConnick walks passed her, giving her a weird look.

- In the comics, Carol's pet cat is named 'Chewie' not 'Goose'.  Since Disney (Marvel's parent company) also owns the Star Wars property, I can only assume that the name change for the film was made in order to re-enforce Carol's Air Force ties (Goose was Marverick's co-pilot in Top Gun).

- The reveal that Goose is a Flerken and not actually a cat pulled directly from the comics and was a fun touch.  I loved that Goose was the cause behind Fury's wearing an eye patch (that part is not canon in the comics). 

- In the comics, Monica Rambeau is also one of the many characters to have held the title of Captain Marvel (and currently goes by Spectrum).  I thought that her inclusion as Carol's best friend's daughter was a cool way to introduce her to the MCU.  It will be interesting to see if we see a grown up version of her in a future film.

- The war between the Kree and Skrulls is a long standing feud in the comics.  

- The Skrulls being portrayed as sympathetic figures was a bit hard for me to get used to.  Their history in the comics is portrayed as conquerors who infiltrate and overthrow other planets/societies with their shape-shifting powers.  I'm intrigued to see how Marvel deals with them in the MCU moving forward.  Was this just a small, pacifist group acting on its own in the act of self-preservation?  Or do they represent the race as a whole?

- When Carol suggests that she needs a different color scheme for her suit and asks Monica to help her pick a new look, we see a few different options.  A couple of which are reminiscent of prior Captain Marvel/Carol color schemes from the comics:  a black/gold/red scheme that is a nod to Carol's Ms. Marvel years, and a green/white scheme that hearkens back to Mar-Vell's original comic book look.

- This film includes what I think is now my personal favorite Stan Lee cameo.  While Carol pursues the Skrull on the subway, there is an old man reading the script for Mallrats and practicing his lines.  This is a great, super-meta cameo, as Stan Lee played HIMSELF in Mallrats (which may also be my favorite Kevin Smith movie).

- Popular 90's songs (that I caught) included throughout the film include: "Only Happy When It Rains" by Garbage, "Waterfalls" by TLC, "I'm Just a Girl" by No Doubt, "Come As You Are" by Nirvana, and "Celebrity Skin" by Hole.  Carol also wore a Nine Inch Nails shirt for a good portion of the film.

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