Film review: Captain Marvel (2019), directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
tl;dr: Where was this film when I was a little girl?
Vers (Brie Larson), a Kree warrior with amnesia who is constantly told by her superior officer (Jude Law) that she needs to control her emotions, is off with her team trying to rescue a Kree spy to the shape-shifting Skrull when Skrull commander Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) captures her and takes her with them, headed for Earth. They subject her to a memory probe, during which she has confusing flashbacks of a woman, Dr Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening), and a life as an air force pilot on what looks like Earth.
She manages to escape their clutches but crash lands on Earth. There, she tries to get back in touch with her team (Algenis Perez Soto, Gemma Chan, Rune Temte – and Jude Law), at which point S.H.I.E.L.D., with digitally (and slightly unsettlingly) rejuvenated agents Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), take a keen interest.
Stuff happens and a two-eyed Fury and Vers try to fill in the memory gaps in order to find this Dr Lawson, as hopefully she can shed some light on what on Earth is going on. Maybe Vers is not actually a Kree after all?
(Relatively spoiler-free. Although, if you were going to see it, you probably will have seen it by now.)
You could say this is sort of a precursor to the first Guardians of the Galaxy, what with Ronan (Lee Pace) and Korath (Djimon Hounsou) showing up. It’s a prequel to the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, really, what with the events of this film primarily taking place in 1995. Not that the 1995-ness translates very well – the music is there (although I kept wondering “didn’t this come out after 1995?” but that might just be my age), there’s a Blockbuster, they use a CD-ROM, a pager, and a dial-up modem. Those of us who remember those snicker in nostalgia, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference from today. Perhaps because it wasn’t that long ago, it doesn’t seem too aged so we don’t notice the difference? I don’t know. Other than the occasional nod, the mid-90s feeling wasn’t really there.
As my knowledge of Marvel boils down to having seen all their cinematic output since Iron Man back in 1998 rather than reading any of the comics, I can’t comment on the whole Skrull/Kree thing, which I’ve heard is completely different in the comics. It was an interesting take on what’s going on in our current day and age, though.
I enjoyed the trip to see Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch). A capable fighter pilot in her own right, and a good role model for her daughter Monica (Akira Akbar). It was nice to see a genuine friendship, and here is where it’s also time to praise the lack of a romantic subplot! How refreshing to see a bunch of characters and not one of them attempting to get inside each other’s clothes! (It was nice to see them include an actual woman in The Hobbit trilogy, but having her main function be “love interest” to Legolas and Miniature Poldark was patronising.) I’m sure there are plenty of people out there shipping Maria and Carol, but at least in the film it was kept platonic. Because yeah, there are women and girls out there who are more than willing to go to the cinema to watch superhero films based on those films being good fun to watch – who’d’ve thought, eh? Besides, just because you’re female doesn’t mean you’re necessarily into romantic stuff.
Carol/Vers kept being told she wasn’t good enough to the point where she believed it herself, so the story of believing in yourself was particularly powerful. Or maybe that’s just because OH MY GOD I would have loved to have seen a message like that when I was younger. And that’s why, despite a few minor flaws, this film is great. Marvel have been criticised for not having a female superhero stand-alone film, but by golly they make up for it with Captain Marvel.
Superpowers aside, Captain Marvel feels much more relatable as a character than Wonder Woman, because … well, Wonder Woman is an Amazonian princess and half-god (spoilers?) who has lived in isolation on some hidden Greek island most of her life. It’s not exactly something you can aspire to be when you grow up. While you can’t be a supercharged superhero either, at least you can grow up to become a kick-ass fighter pilot!
Favourite character? Goose, obviously!
5 out of 5 shapeshifters. Can’t wait to see Carol again soon!