It’s been a long time coming. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was established back in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. Since then, the films have generated several billion dollars (and that’s even before we consider the lucrative merchandise sales).
Until Captain Marvel however, the series had not featured a female superhero. Fortunately, this new release rectifies matters. Sadly, in doing so, the movie has already generated a misogynistic backlash. This has included trolls bombarding the film’s Rotten Tomatoes page with negative Captain Marvel reviews prior to the release date.
If I were to have watched this film without any idea of its social significance, I would likely have found it to be a charming but unadventurous middle-of-the-road action movie. Having prior knowledge of the unfair criticism levelled at the film’s female director (Anna Boden) however, as well as an understanding of Boden’s pioneering role as a woman in film, means that I have found it much more difficult to remain unbiased and am more inclined to sing the movie’s praises.
In essence, Captain Marvel is an origin story for Vers. The superhero begins the film seemingly with no knowledge of a life prior to beginning training with the Kree – the technologically advanced race of aliens tasked with helping her control her power.
Vers’ power involves the ability to emit photon blasts from her fists and the Kree help the fledgling superhero harness this ability to fight evil. This training is guided by her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law).
Ending up stranded on Earth after being ambushed and captured by the shape-shifting Skrulls, Vers teams up with the much younger Nick Fury in order to take down the evil invaders. In the process, the superhero comes to learn a great deal more about her mysterious past.
Being a Marvel film, this short summary will probably be quite enough to enable you to predict the many twists and turns that await.
Critics have slated the movie for the kind of predictability that has generally plagued the MCU films. However, while I would have personally liked the film to take more risks, I feel as though this criticism is aimed more at the state of the superhero genre as a whole, rather than a personal criticism of Captain Marvel alone.
Unfortunately, because of the responsibility it holds for being the first MCU movie to feature a female protagonist, Captain Marvel invites greater scrutiny of the traits it may or may not also subvert, and to be honest, it changes up very little.
At least the actors working within this exhausted formula keep the film captivating, however. Brie Larson, sexist criticism of her solemn expressions notwithstanding, does a brilliant job as the leading hero, down to earth and silly enough to remain relatable but also serious and complex enough to keep a layer of added intrigue.
Samuel L Jackson is entertaining as always as Nick Fury and is given more space in this film than in his other Marvel outings, with a character arc and purpose that doesn’t solely exist for the sake of exposition.
The character who truly steals the show, however, is Goose the cat. Goose’s initial cuteness leads wonderfully into a surprisingly well integrated role in the story.
In summary, Captain Marvel is an enjoyable film for the general public, and absolutely unmissable for Marvel fans, particularly for those patiently awaiting the release of Avengers: Endgame.
Find out more about Captain Marvel here.
Check out some of Zoe Crombie’s other reviews at obsessed reviews