Note: links in this movie may be spoilery, but the review has light spoilers.
As the first reviews came through, Captain Marvel had been considered everything from “ground-breaking” to “typical Marvel movie” and “a disappointment.”
In a way, it shows how the character is seen by others (the Kree and a younger Nick Fury especially) until she shows her true self.
Captain Marvel should be judged on the fact that a solo heroine is finally taking center stage in the MCU. Based on that, it’s a good, solid movie, and she makes a good impression.
This is a story of an Air Force pilot named Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), and how she became a super-hero. It’s also the story of a warrior who doubts everything she’s ever known once the truth is known. That movie plot is more common, but Marvel puts its own spin in showing an Earthling who became a Kree warrior…and then even more.
As the movie begins, a warrior named Vers has dreams of a life she doesn’t quite remember. She has a training session with Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), who always advises her not to let her emotions get the better of her. He also says he want her to be the best version of herself, but maybe he gets to define that (maybe call it Kree-splaining). Then, she is called by the “Supreme Intelligence” (Annette Bennig) to rescue a Kree spy who’s been caught by the Skrulls, evil aliens who can shape-shift into anyone. It appears before Vers as someone she admires, but not anyone she recognizes.
She winds up getting grabbed by the Skrulls, led by a charming menace named Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). He’s looking for someone, and digs into memories even she has forgotten. They reveal she’s from Earth, and was doing experimental flights for something called Pegasus led by a scientist who looks very familiar.
Vers is able to get away, but falls to a primitive world where survival is difficult. Her people call it C-53, a terrible place.
We, of course, call it Earth.
It’s there that she uses primitive 1995 tech to keep in touch with her Kree warriors, and maybe find some answers about her dreams. She also tries to find Skrulls who have infiltrated the area, including Talos.
She does meet some SHIELD agents, including a younger Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Back then, Nick was a little less jaded, and had both his eyes and some uncertainty about his job. They wind up getting together to investigate Pegasus, and they made a pretty good team that could power a few other movies. This is especially true when she deals with her ability to blast through doors.
With the Kree and Skrulls looking for her, Vers finds out a lot more, like the scientist’s real origins and who she really is. She also remembers she can fly fly a plane.
They get to the home of Monica Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), who knew Vers as Carol Danvers, her best friend in the Air Force. The reunion they have is touching and even Monica’s daughter is cute. They have Carol’s past, and her reaction of matching her dreams with pictures is stunning. Talos also arrives with information, which is shocking in more ways than one. That leads to the moment where Carol realizes all she knew wasn’t exactly true. Larson doesn’t go overboard in anger, but more like quiet shock. Maybe fans were expecting her to blow up stuff after learning the truth, but maybe it’s good she didn’t. This gives her a new mission, and a new color scheme to her costume.
She finds the Pegasus scientist’s base in an unusual place, and that her attitude towards the Skrulls is much different from the Kree. Carol is captured by Yon-Rogg, and is told she should be grateful his people saved her. Even the “Supreme Intelligence” says that, but with too much snarkiness (a bad move because the SI should have been more stoic). The Kree imply that without them, what would Carol be?
She shows them with her true power that the Kree have tried to hide from her. That is the super-hero moment.
Larson makes the role her own. It would be expected that Carol would be as brutal as the Kree after spending six years there, but she has kept enough of her humanity because of dreams she can’t quite remember. The Kree don’t mind as long as they make sure she’s not aware of her full power and who really owns it. Once she does, everything changes.
Law is not bad as Yon-Rogg, a man who thinks he made Carol what he is today. It’s just too bad he won’t get her enough credit, but he’s just trying to maintain the truth she’s accepted for six years.
Because of this, Mendelsohn is much better as Talos, who is a different kind of Skrull. He admits he’s done awful things to the Kree, but for legitimate reasons. This may disappoint Marvel fans who expected evil Skrulls to replace an Avenger or two, but they may exist in future movies. It’s still a great twist, and maybe hope that there are also some Kree who have different ideas.
Jackson is also great as a less-jaded Fury, although some may be disappointed by finding out two key facts of his life. Retconning how he lost an eye may be acceptable, but not the other change in MCU history.
Of course, fans shouldn’t forget this little guy:
Little Goose, who was first found at a hidden base, looks cute…until it’s revealed it’s a flerken. That’s a cat with an “octopus” or something inside of it. It would freak out any Skrull and maybe ALF, too. Of course, it has to return someday, especially since it’s in the post-credit scene.
Finally, there’s the opening credits for Marvel Studios that had no characters, except the most famous one….Stan Lee. His words, his cameos, and his many appearances were all shown, and it got quite the response. It’ll likely be shown again in Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. After that, he should be included in all opening credits. That way, he’ll always be in Marvel movies.
As for his cameo scene, he’s in a train reading something.
In the MCU, Captain Marvel wouldn’t be in the highest levels where Avengers, Winter Soldier and Black Panther are, but around the middle with the first Iron Man and Captain America movies.
It may be the gap between Fury hitting his beeper to call her before he dissolves at the end of Infinity War, and the events of Avengers: Endgame coming in a month and half. Still, we got a solid introduction to her, and we were left wanting more. That’s enough.