Review: Captain Marvel pushes superhero movies higher, further, faster
March 9, 2019
After 10 years and 20 movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has finally delivered its first female led movie, Captain Marvel, just in time for International Women’s Day. While it may be long overdue, Captain Marvel is a blast from start to finish, subverting many superhero tropes to create a movie that is exciting, unique and worthy of its heroine.
Captain Marvel follows a young woman known only as Vers (Brie Larson), a member of a team of elite intergalactic warriors. When a mission gone wrongs ends with her stranded on Earth in 1995, Vers is caught up in a conflict between two alien races, the Kree and the Skrulls. With the help of a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Veers races to stop the war with the Skrulls. But, all the while, she keeps have reoccurring visions of a life on Earth, a life she has no memories of…
Captain Marvel has a lot to set it apart from every other superhero movie franchise opener. Vers’ origins are a mystery for her to uncover alongside the audience. Her path of self-discovery is skillfully woven into Captain Marvel‘s main plot, and it has some shocking twists and turns. In fact, I think Captain Marvel‘s biggest strength is that little-to-nothing in the movie is what it appears to be.
The 90’s setting is another standout element, and Captain Marvel has plenty of fun Easter eggs and nods to the era, as well as a stellar soundtrack of period-accurate music. Longtime Marvel fans will enjoy getting to see earlier versions of iconic Marvel characters such Nick Fury and Agent Coulson, and Captain Marvel can be seen as a kind of prequel to the MCU as a whole.
Brie Larson delivers a pitch-perfect performance as the titular Captain Marvel. Her Vers is snarky and impulsive, caring and courageous, powerful and vulnerable. She’s a compelling, sympathetic heroine who is complicated and flawed in a way that all too few female characters are allowed to be.
The supporting cast is great as well. Larson and Jackson have a kind of buddy-cop dynamic that provides Captain Marvel with plenty of humorous moments and snappy banter. And there’s a cat named Goose that just might be the best surprise of the entire movie.
Captain Marvel doesn’t just pass the Bechdel-Test, it soars above and beyond it with a phenomenal cast of secondary female characters. It’s so wonderful to see a powerful heroine like Captain Marvel who isn’t portrayed as set apart from or superior to the rest of her gender- “not like the other girls”- and who is instead supported by a range of other brilliant, brave women.
To address the inevitable comparisons: Captain Marvel is a great movie starring a female superhero, so is Wonder Woman. That is the beginning and end of everything that the two have in common. If you loved Wonder Woman, go see Captain Marvel. If you didn’t, still go see Captain Marvel.
The beauty of living in a world where both those movies exist, where the kick-butt Wakandan women of Black Panther also exists, is that it means we are living a in a world where pop culture narratives have finally begun to accept that women are different and nuanced, not one homogeneous group. Where they can be warriors and goddesses and scientists and spies and heroes and villains, where they can be anything they choose to be.
Captain Marvel is a highly-entertaining movie that breathes fresh life into the superhero origin story with a cool 90’s aesthetic, unique Sci-Fi elements and some awe-inspiring action sequences. But, most of all, it is the story of a woman rejecting the lies she has been told and reclaiming her agency to become the most powerful hero the MCU has seen yet. And that’s exactly the kind of story Marvel should be telling right now.
Alanna Felton is a senior and the Editor-in-Chief of the journalism staff. She is also president and founder of the RHS Young Writers’ Club and an officer...