REVIEW: Captain Marvel – The Hero We Need Right Now

We’ve waited 10 years for this.

10 years, and we finally have our first female led entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It’s about damn time.

*******************SPOILER FREE REVIEW******************* (assuming you don’t consider anything that’s already been revealed in interviews, trailers, or commercials, and my general impressions a spoiler… I know some who considers titles a spoiler, so you do you).

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), aka Carol Danvers, aka Vers, aka the most powerful character in the MCU to date, makes her big screen debut in an origin story that takes a different look at a superhero’s beginnings. One where we meet the hero when they already have their abilities, and go on a journey with them that teaches both the hero and the audience where they came from, while also discovering just how powerful they are.

Captain Marvel is an introduction not only to a new and compelling hero, but to a new phase of the MCU. It’s a film that feels like a new beginning, while giving us tantalizing information about the world we already know. By going back to the mid 90s, before Tony Stark suited up as Iron Man, we’re introduced to a world that’s both familiar, and strange; with familiar characters like Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) before he was Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and before he lost that eye), Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) as he’s just joined up, and even broadening our look at a civilization we met before, the Kree, and a villain already faced and defeated by the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan the Accuser.

When we meet Vers, as she’s known then, she is living in the Kree Empire and a part of the warrior heroes (her words, not mine) who are fighting the Skrulls, a race able to mimic anyone (or anything?) they set eyes on. Over the course of 2 hours (It really was that short), we’re introduced to these two races and their struggle, and shifting power dynamics. It’s a lot to take in, and I won’t pretend I didn’t feel it at one point, suddenly wondering when we were going to get to the good stuff (we did shortly after).

Carol Danvers is not here to please anyone. She’s no nonsense, she’s fierce, and she’s strong. There’s been a lot of articles written about the online trolls out there trying to tell everyone that Captain Marvel is a social justice warrior film, here to torment their fragile male egos with its unashamed portrayal of a woman who doesn’t have anything to prove, and doesn’t have time for a world where men think she should “smile more.” I walked out of the film laughing, knowing the trolls would see it and think it was everything they hated and feared, while personally feeling relieved that there’s nothing heavy handed about this story. Captain Marvel isn’t here to hammer feminism or social justice down your throat. She doesn’t have to. She’s just a human being (well, part Kree now) who deals with the world the same as every other woman who is fed up with the status quo. With knowledge of who she is, and what she wants to do, and no time for anything else. She’s empowering without even trying to be. Not that there’s anything wrong with the strong feminist (hell, I am), but it’s refreshing to see a story where it’s just assumed, and not explicitly and repeatedly stated.

Because the film is set in the mid 1990s, it’s also a giant nostalgia fest from the moment she sets foot (or crashes down) on Earth. As a child of the 90s, I can’t pretend I didn’t relish it. From the obvious Blockbuster Video & Rock The Vote references seen in trailers and photos, to every single song that I guarantee you played over and over on my boom box (yes, I had one). There’s one particular song that is so well timed, it was hard for me not to jump out of my seat with excitement. I’m considering making a Captain Marvel playlist on my streaming service, the soundtrack was that perfect.

One of the best parts of any MCU film is the mid or post credit scenes, and this film delivers on both. Both the scene that is truly important to the continuing story, and the scene that is mostly just a bit of fun. It’s that first one that has me dying while I wait for my husband and friends to see the film, so we can have another epic MCU discussion (probably my favorite part of being a Marvel fan).

We all knew the first film in the MCU after the death of legendary comics creator, Marvel Studios Executive Producer, and the king of the cameo, Stan Lee, would have to feature a touching tribute, and boy does it deliver in a truly unexpected, touching, and almost overwhelming way. I don’t want to give it away, because it was such a surprise, and yes, there were tears. So make sure you have your tissues ready as Marvel says goodbye to the man who gave us so much joy.

So where do I place Captain Marvel in my MCU rankings? Well, in the end, Captain Marvel is an origin story, and while I LOVED the film, after one screening, I will admit this is no Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Infinity Waror Black Panther. After 10 years, I think maybe the origin stories are harder to take now. Especially in a world post Infinity War, where the most refreshing part was just being thrown into the story, and being expected to know enough about everyone involved to accept what was happening without too much exposition on each character or their motivations. That being said, right now I’d have to rank Captain Marvel somewhere in the high middle of my MCU film rankings. Considering I tend to prefer many films after a second viewing, that could well change after Thursday.

Captain Marvel is in theaters from March 8th.