Brie Larson Shines in Her MCU Debut as ‘Captain Marvel’ Hits the Right Notes – Review
“Higher, Further, Faster.”
Marvel Studios has their first film featuring a solo female superhero as the lead in this month’s Captain Marvel. It’s been a long time coming, but now that it’s finally here, I’m glad to report that the film is enjoyable and filled with many twists, and turns to keep the audience on their toes.
The story begins with Vers/Carol (Brie Larson) on Hala, the home world of the Kree. Plagued by dreams (or perhaps nightmares) of what may or may not be her past, Vers decides that sleep is for the weak and she finds her comrade Yun-Rogg (Jude Law) to request a sparring match, and the duo fight to the death! Just kidding! However Vers does get annoyed with the amount of times that Yun-Rogg tells her that she needs to control herself – specifically her emotions and her powers. Fighting an internal struggle, Vers struggles with the idea of keeping her emotions on lockdown, navigating all she’s known for the past six years and trying to find out who she is, and just where she really belongs.
With the Kree fighting a war with the shape-shifting Skrulls and their leader, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), Vers has to meet with the Supreme Intelligence to find out whether or not she is ready to join Yun-Rogg’s team in their next mission. As the Supreme Intelligence takes the shape of the person you admire most, Vers is stunned when it takes the form of the woman (Annette Bening) that she’s been seeing in her dreams. Vers is still unsure of who the woman is and why she keeps seeing her, but it’s something she vows to find out at some point, regardless of what it may cost her. After being granted the blessing from the Supreme Intelligence Vers joins the rest of Yun-Rogg’s crew; comprised of Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan), Korath (Djimon Hounsou), Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), and Bron-Char (Rune Temte).
The team is on a rescue mission to extract another team member when things go awry thanks to Talos and his fellow Skrulls, leaving Yun Rogg’s team separated. This moment serves as one of the turning points for Carol. Not only does she have to prove herself in a moment of disadvantage, but she is up against one of the chief Skrull. Talos is a formidable foe and what follows this battle sets off a chain of events that lead Vers on a course for what she believes to be a foreign planet to her: Earth. Of course, being a fish out of water leads Vers to have a plethora of humorous interactions, with a few humans, including none other than Nicholas J. Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Now, as much as I’d like to share more, I’d like to be courteous to those who haven’t seen the film and want to avoid any spoilers. So, if you want to know what happens next – well, you’ll just have to watch the movie.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Captain Marvel demonstrates just why Carol Danvers deserves her place within the MCU’s ranks. It is clear with this introduction and just the sheer power that Danvers possesses, that she is about to turn the MCU on its head in an amazing way. Not only does the film take some quite obvious jabs at the trolls and haters that have plagued the film since it’s casting announcement, but it also shows the audience that vulnerability and emotion don’t have to be a downfall. The film doesn’t shy away from depicting the complexities of relationships, including the ones between men in powerful positions and women. Likely, this was something that was knowingly done by screenwriters Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet. Many times throughout the film, you have Yun-Rogg telling Vers that she needs to master the art of control. This doesn’t just stop at her physical powers, but also extends to her emotions. As women, there’s likely been many times when we’ve been told that we are too emotional and this plays a key factor in why we might not be able to get things done. However, Captain Marvel changes that narrative, and shows that some of the strength women have relies on their capacity to allow their emotions to simply be.
We can see this growth depicted superbly by Brie Larson as the titular character. I will admit that when Marvel Studios announced that Captain Marvel was going to be made, Larson was not the first actress that came to mind. That being said, after seeing the film it is clear that Larson definitely did her research. She captured Carol’s snark perfectly, was great with her comedic timing and she was certainly a believable badass. But perhaps her best trait was the chemistry she created with her co-stars. Having seen Larson’s directorial debut Unicorn Store at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2017, I was glad to hear that Larson’s Carol Danvers would share screen time with Jackson’s Nick Fury. The chemistry the pair share is off-the-charts and some of the scenes the duo have with one another are some of the best parts of the movie.
However, it doesn’t stop there. From the moment we meet Carol’s best friend, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), we know that we’ve met someone special. Not only does Maria tell it like it is, she doesn’t back down from Carol. Not to mention Maria is a kick-ass single mother to daughter Monica (Akira Akbar). Maria is that friend that we all need in our lives and Lynch plays the role to perfection. From her line delivery, to her chemistry with Larson and Jackson, Lynch is a star. Truth be told, even with her limited screen time, Maria is one of the most important characters in Captain Marvel. Without revealing too much, her friendship with Carol is one of the most important parts of Carol’s life (past and present), and it takes an emotional moment between the two of them to propel Carol in the right direction.
Of course, Captain Marvel is a superhero origin story and because of this seems familiar to other stories in a similar vein. Perhaps formulaic, it still never feels boring. The writers did a great job of making the film timely, while also paying homage to the great decade of the 90s. The comedic moments were well timed, didn’t feel forced and didn’t take away from the film’s message in any way. It can be difficult to have a character with so much power at their fingertips and make them relatable. But the film certainly did just that. Carol has moments of vulnerability and while others might see that as a weakness, it’s something that shows her human aspect very well. Her vulnerability does not make her any less strong; in fact, it makes her stronger as she learns to tackle her emotions head on, and learn from them, rather than keeping them suppressed.
Ultimately, Captain Marvel is a solid introduction to one of the MCU’s strongest characters, and the cast truly make it a memorable experience. The MCU is certainly rallying together a strong force of women heroes to be proud of, Captain Marvel included. Full of heart and epic character making moments, Captain Marvel‘s importance lies in the fact that is does not shy away from the harsh realities that are felt when someone is truly trying to find themselves and figure out just where they belong. It has a lot to say, as long as you’re ready and willing to take it all in during the movie. All-in-all, it was a well done film, and I look forward to seeing Carol’s next chapter in the MCU.
Be sure to check out Captain Marvel in theaters on International Women’s Day, March 8!