Captain Marvel (2019)
Director: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck | Runtime: 2h 3mins | Adventure, Action, Sci-Fi
In the mid 90’s, Vers (Brie Larson) works with a elite team of Kree attempting to inflitrate a planet occupied by their long term nemesis, the Skrull. After inadvertently escaping to Earth, Vers teams with S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to uncover the truth behind her nightmares and the origins of her powers.
From the outset, it’s very clear why Brie Larson was chosen for the titular role and a good sign for the rest of the MCU (once she takes over from Evans’ Cap) – she brings a engaging sense of wit and humour that few outside Chris Pratt and Robert Downey Jr have matched. Quick snaps bounce well off her fellow cast, and set the scene for a Guardians-esque comedy escapade well within the sci-fi boundaries.
Although it doesn’t play out the same, we’re still treated to highly entertaining entry into the comic book universe. For most Marvel heavy fans, the opening won’t phase them as they’re likely familiar with the Kree and and Skrull, but the lack of exposition on who they are does leave the rest a bit wondering. It’s mostly summarised, but it does show that a lot of MCU films assume that their audience have seen plenty of the previous 20 entries. Although the time in space is fun with the usual sci-fi action sequences, it isn’t till she lands on Earth that the real fun begins and she starts a almost buddy-cop adventure with Jackson’s Fury.
Before the release of Captain Marvel there was a plenty from Larson and others behind the camera discussing the feminist message represented, and one of the most interesting aspects throughout is during the period of Vers in the Starforce team and her trying to find Dr Lawson, the agenda is presented in a raw and open way, but without feeling forced or artificial. It feels very organic, instead of a heavy hand it feels so natural, Larson is strong and powerful but in her unique way. The most important part of this though is that she isn’t searching for approval or acceptance, the power she has is a relevant aspect but its far more crucial that the characters and the audience aren’t being convinced of her point of view, instead the film presents it’s and her stance and boldly says that it doesn’t matter if you disagree – they’ll be fine without it.
The story has the definite flavour that many Marvel films have come to be known for, with a few fairly expected twists and turns. Not to say that they are necessarily bad, but some of the beats feel fairly telegraphed from early on, and is certainly not the strongest element of the piece – the cast is what really makes it so appealing. Jackson has plenty more fun than many of his other Fury performances, largely due to the setting. Instead of his tough, untrusting persona we’ve got used to, we have a far more outgoing and fun performance. He hasn’t lost that vigor that makes him the leader he becomes, but there’s enough for him to wise crack more than usual. Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos is surprisingly captivating on screen, and something that he and the rest of the Skrull are treated to is more investment than many of the side characters in other MCU films. There are a few notes that resonate better emotionally than other features that don’t give them the same time and treatment that’s needed for it to work.
The final act is chock full of the action sequences you’re used to seeing in a comic book film from Marvel, but much like the aforementioned Skrull is does feel like it resonates better due to the treatment of the Larson’s lead. It does feel like an achievement finally getting the strong female hero that is well overdue, and although succumbs to a few of the same moments in previous films it’s certainly outperformed by the real highlights and peaks throughout.