In Marvel Comics, Carol Danvers first appeared in March of 1968. She first became the superhero Ms. Marvel when her DNA fused with that of Dr. Walter Lawson who was actually a Kree scientist named Mar-Vell. Over the years, she fought for equal pay for equal work, was socially progressive, and became a symbol of the feminist movement. Eventually she shifted off “Ms.” And went to her Air Force rank of Captain. I am most familiar with her from the animated Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes series, in which she swiftly established her skill and power, becoming a formidable ally and member of S.W.O.R.D.
In this 21st movie in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), we are introduced to Vers (pronounced ‘Veers’), a Kree warrior who appeared on their planet, Hala, six years ago with no memory of who she was or what she was doing. Plagued by dreams, she spends her time training with her commander, Yon-Rogg, for various Star-Force missions in the ongoing Kree/Skrull war. The Skrulls are a race of shapeshifters, and the Supreme Intelligence (which, of course, is the Artificial Intelligence in charge of the Kree empire) decides to send Vers off with her squad to rescue their informant before the Skrulls get ahold of him and the information he’s collected. The mission starts off pretty well, the Star-Force heads in while the Accusers wait above, ready to bomb the planet out of existence. They stumble into an ambush, the Skrulls grab Vers, and they begin poking around in her brain to find details about possible light-speed travel. What they find opens up her memories about her life as an Air Force pilot on earth, sending all of them on a crash course for 1995 earth where she meets a younger Nick Fury and does some adventuring with him, Maria Rambeau (yes, she has a daughter named Monica), and Goose the ‘cat’.
I won’t say anything further than that, because I really loved this movie and it’s worth you checking it out. Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, it has a great sense of adventure and fun, and is certainly a great stand-alone origin movie to the MCU. The front half moves a little slow, as it is mostly exposition and research. However, once the action really kicks in, the movie is fast and fun, and Carol really steps into her own as the most powerful character in the MCU. Get ready Thanos.
- Brie Larson has already done an exceptional job stepping up into the role of the next leader of the upcoming few phases of the MCU, taking over from Chris Evans the off-screen duties of visiting fans and battling Nazis on Twitter. Social Activism is not required from the actors in the MCU, but it does speak to the quality of people they hire for these movies when their values seem to naturally align with their character’s values. Larson is wonderful as Danvers, all cocky self-assuredness with just the right amount of doubt caused by the memory loss. She wants to be the best, whether that’s a Star-Force fighter, or an Air Force pilot. Once she realized she’s been held back for most of the movie, the moment she sets herself free and steps into her full potential is absolutely magic and Larson plays it just perfectly. I wanted Katee Sackoff in this role for years, but Larson has completely won me over. We didn’t see Agent Brand in this movie, so perhaps Sackoff can step into that role.
- Samuel L. Jackson seems to be having the time of his life playing a younger Nick Fury. He gets to hang out as Captain Marvel’s sidekick, helping her figure out her past. Also, his scenes with the cat are wonderful.
- Ben Mendelsohn continues his run as ‘villain of the moment’ by playing Talos, the head of the Skrull unit we see in this movie. He manages to give Talos just enough layers to stay interesting and engaging, and wow, the makeup is stunning. After seeing Skrulls for years in comics and animated shows, I never thought they would make it to the screen, because they are ridiculous looking, but he did an amazing job.
- Jude Law plays Yon-Rogg, Vers’s trainer and commander. He’s fairly insistent that she learn to control her emotions in order to become a great warrior. He does a good job of being incredibly patronizing for the majority of the movie.
- Annette Bening plays Dr. Wendy Lawson (see what they did there?), as well as the image that Vers sees when she interacts with the Supreme Intelligence (you see whoever you most admire). Bening gets to play a lot of fun angles in this, and really seems to be having a great time.
- Lashana Lynch plays Maria Rambeau, and the scene where she gets to remind Carol of who she used to be brought me to tears. Everyone needs friends who always have your back and are strong when you are at your weakest, helping you recover.
- Clark Gregg brings Agent Coulson back to the big screen in a much younger and inexperienced version. It was an absolute joy to see him.
- Gemma Chan played Minn-Erva, another member of the Star Force who doesn’t particularly care for Vers. Yes, it would have been cool for her to have a bit more to do.
- Additional Star Force teammates are played by Rune Temte (Bron-Char), Algenis Perez Soto (Att-Lass) and Chuku Modu (Soh-Larr).
- Djimon Hounsou returns as Korath the Pursuer, and we get to see him here with the Star Force, prior to starting work for Ronan and his fanatical Kree off-shoot adventures when we run into them in Guardians of the Galaxy, which is set a number of years later.
- Speaking of which, Lee Pace returns as Ronan the Accuser, here working with the rest of the Accusers, doing questionable things. I am hoping the Captain Marvel sequel allows us to see what happened to him between this movie and Guardians.
Overall, I absolutely loved it. It’s so much fun and has some great action. There are some powerful women in it, and it certainly has some feminist themes, but in what I would consider a supportive and subtle way. She’s flawed, she’s human, and that’s her greatest strength.
9 out of 10 – fantastic, but the more I see it (I'm on three times already), the higher I want to give it. The digital de-aging looks pretty good, but some of the CGI here and there was iffy. The practical stuff was amazing, the hand to hand combat was great. Also, points for the 90s music soundtrack, and for making me feel nostalgic about Blockbuster. I used to spend a lot of time there – pretty sure I still have my card.
Yes, there’s a mid-credits scene tying it to Avengers: Endgame – which you knew would happen because the mid-credits scene of Infinity war was Fury beeping Marvel. We have just over a month to wait to find out what happens once she gets that page and heads back to earth.