Captain Marvel, A Review
By Chris M. Barkley:
Captain Marvel, (****, 2019) with Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg and Jude Law. Screenplay byAnna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet. Story byNicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet. Based on Captain Marvel by Stan Lee and Gene Colan; Carol Danvers by Roy Thomas. Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
124 minutes. Bechtel Test: PASSES with flying colors
The anticipation for Captain Marvel has been incredibly high since Marvel Studios put the title on their production schedule in October of 2014. And when Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige announced that they would be introducing the Carol Danvers iteration into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that expanded into wondering who would play her AND how she would be integrated into the ongoing arc towards the inevitable conflict with the mad titan, Thanos.
With the casting of Academy Award-winning actor Brie Larson (for the 2015 drama, Room) and the intention of placing Captain Marvel directly in between the twin Avengers films pushed the speculation to hyperbolic overdrive. The closing credit scene of last year’s Avengers: Infinity War in which Nick Fury activates a relatively ancient pager to summon her, sealed the deal.
Over the past few years, films with strong women protagonists such as Mad Max: Fury Road, Wonder Woman and The Last Jedi have generated an enormous amount of cultural pushback from all sorts of critics. Misogynist trolls and conservative commentators have attacked everything regarding the film with an astounding amount of hateful verbiage. It got so bad that Rotten Tomatoes had to shut down the anticipated ratings section of their website due to the deluge of negative comments.
The film begins in the midst of a dream fragment experienced by Vers (Brie Larson), a member of the Kree race’s security service, the Starforce. Her memories of her past life feel very mysterious and sparse but she is very dedicated to her work in eradicating their space faring rivals, the shapeshifting Skrulls.
When a mission to rescue a Kree spy trapped behind enemy lines goes awry, Vers finds herself stranded on Earth in 1995 and under the scrutiny of two future leaders of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury and Phil Coulson (portrayed by the digitally enhanced Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg) and relentlessly pursued by the Skrulls led by their leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn).
Vers eventually discovers that she isn’t a fully alien but a native of Earth and at the center of conspiracy that challenges everything she knows and loves…
In an age where you can hardly venture online or encounter any media outlet without being inundated with advertisements, cross promotions, product placements or spoilers, I prefer going to a film without an excess of information or hucksterism. The less I know, the better my pure gut reaction is served.
I am pleased to report that Marvel Studios have not lost their touch (yet); Captain Marvel is a terrific action movie, a triumph of story, character and style. It’s an highly enjoyable and exciting origin story of Captain Marvel and Nick Fury that stands on its own and also serves as a necessary bridge to what happens in seven weeks when Avengers: Endgame hits the screens.
Writer-Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck are to be commended for delivering a kinetic action film that also has uniformly good performances from its lead and supporting actors who show real chemistry with each other without detracting from the story.
There are many Easter eggs buried in Captain Marvel; for instance sharp eyed viewers may want to note what the late Stan Lee in reading in his cameo, the cat Danvers adopts mid-film has a very special name and we finally find out why Nick Fury has such strong issues with trusting others.
As of this writing, Captain Marvel was on pace to gross over $155 million dollars its opening weekend and with a usually high repeat viewing by Marvel fans, it should easily clear a half a billion dollars in a few weeks.
It’s no surprise that Captain Marvel’s official release date coincided with the celebration of International Women’s Day. Vers journey to finding her true heritage as Carol Danvers and onward to her destiny as Captain Marvel is designed to entertain and to inspire anyone who feels downtrodden, depressed or abused.
Or, as the late coach Vince Lombardi once opined, “It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up.