She’s got the heart of Steve Rogers, the snark of Tony Stark, and the impulsivity of Peter Parker — she’s Carol Danvers, and she’s the MCU’s mightiest hero.
Marvel’s first female-led superhero film, Captain Marvel, takes audiences on a throwback adventure through the cosmos. More Guardians of the Galaxy than Captain America, the Marvel origin story reminds us that sometimes our greatest power shines in the wake of our mistakes.
In the film, the Kree and the Skrulls are two alien races locked in an endless war. Vers (Brie Larson) is a member of the Kree Starforce who struggles to become the “perfect” soldier, one who lets go of all memories, emotion, and sense of humanity. When a Starforce rescue mission goes wrong, Vers finds herself stranded on Earth (aka Planet C-53), with a band of Skrulls hot on her tail.
With the help of an adorably unseasoned Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Vers embarks on a journey into her past while discovering friendships new and old along the way.
The film features a few key plot twists and turns, but true Marvel fans will see them all coming. However, that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Captain Marvel is a nostalgic thrill ride, fusing together so much of what we already know and love from the MCU — quirky villains, secret government projects, conflicted heroes, and a whole lot of superpower-fueled fighting.
From enthralling dog fights and futuristic alien planets to energy radiation and hardcore battle scenes, Captain Marvel keeps audiences happy with quality special effects we’ve come to expect from Marvel Studios. Nothing disappoints, and the space sequences even rival those seen in the latest Star Wars films.
Welcome to 1995
Captain Marvel’s ‘90s setting is palpably fun for fans who lived through the era of dial-up internet and pay phones. The mid-90s references in the film are spot on, from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and forgotten retail giants like Radio Shack and Blockbuster to Uno cards, Nerf blasters, and a killer — and I mean killer — soundtrack. This blast from the past is full of grungy goodness.
The ‘90s had it all — grunge, metal, R&B, pop — and Captain Marvel does, too. Fans will watch her kick some bad-guy butt to the tune of No Doubt’s “I’m Just a Girl,” and stick it to the man while Garbage’s “Only Happy When It Rains” blares over the sounds of a revving motorcycle. Decades are often defined by music, and this soundtrack reminds us how impactful the ‘90s were — especially for female artists. The music in the film is not just background noise, instead, it enhances the story in a meaningful way, similar to what the iconic ‘80s tunes did for Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Future Is Female
Captain Marvel punches misogyny in the face — multiple times. The film addresses cat-calling, sexist language, unequal treatment in the workplace, parenting roles, beauty ideals, and, of course, the idea that women’s emotions make them weak.
Not only does Carol Danvers save Earth from an alien invasion, she also reminds us that we need rescuing from normalizing phrases like, “got a smile for me?” and terminology like “young lady.” She’s a spitfire, ready to answer any and every notion of doubt and belittlement with a snappy clap-back or an effortless photon blast.
Captain Marvel also pummels the idea that women should conceal their strength and success for the benefit of men. Instead, she reminds her male superiors that she has nothing to prove because her power speaks for itself. She cannot be manipulated by the false bravado of male authority. She’s Carol Danvers.
Unlike DC’s Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel is void of a romantic love story. Instead, the film places a greater emphasis on friendship, self discovery, and morality. In truth, it’s actually closer to a buddy cop movie, with Fury playing the part of the soft, sensitive, naive one in need of enlightenment and protection. He also, apparently, has a soft spot for cats (shout out to Goose, the world’s cutest sidekick).
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Captain Marvel is full of blue skin, purple blood, and aliens you’ll love to hate and hate to love. Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) is a Kree commander who trains Vers in battle while reminding her about the importance of shedding “weaknesses” like humor, anger, and heart. Though he serves as Vers’ mentor, the guy is a slimy masculine asshat five minutes into the film.
Opposite of Yon-Rogg is Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), leader of the Skrulls, who can shapeshift into any living creature right down to the DNA. He’s quick, resourceful, and always just one step ahead of our hero. Unlike his role of John Daggett in DC’s The Dark Knight Rises, Mendelsohn shines as Talos, finding his true home in the MCU. He gives personality to the wrinkly green guys and proves that even villains can have depth.
Fan Service (Mild Spoilers Ahead)
Captain Marvel sheds light on some key elements in the MCU, including the loss of Fury’s eye (which may not perfectly align with how fans thinks he loses it, thanks to a throwaway line in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), the origin of the name “Avengers,” and a few other fan-friendly Easter eggs. Avid Marvel fans will recognize other familiar faces in the film, including a SUPER young Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg); 11-year-old Monica Rambeau (Akira Akbar), who later takes up the Captain Marvel identity in the comics; and some familiar faces from past Marvel films, like Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). Plus, you’ll also see some familiar pieces of Marvel lore, like a particular blue cube that causes lots of mayhem, perhaps. And of course, the Stan Lee cameo will not disappoint.
Though the film is set decades before the Avengers get together (and eventually get dusted), it ties up lots of loose ends and major questions, like how and why Captain Marvel may be able to take down Thanos. Fans should be sure to keep their butts in their seats for the post-credits scene: It’s one you absolutely cannot miss.
Written and directed by Anna Boden and husband Ryan Fleck, Captain Marvel radiates positive female energy. It’s fast-paced fun with just the right amount of campiness and humor that superhero movies demand.