Ever wonder how Nick Fury lost his eye, or what Phil Coulson’s first rodeo was, or how awesome a female-led MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) film is? Well, look no further than ‘Captain Marvel’, the feminist answer to ‘Wonder Woman’; proving that you don’t need to wear skimpy outfits and need the man you love to die before you can save the day.
Before I even begin to talk about the film, I have to mention the opening credit. Many MCU films have opened with the Marvel logo containing images of the heroes from their various movies, something watchers of the films are well used to by now. However, ‘Captain Marvel’ opens with the Marvel logo containing images of Stan Lee in his many Marvel cameo roles; it then fades to black and the words ‘Thank you Stan’ appear onscreen.
In the screening that I went to the audience burst into applause, every one of us appreciating the legend that created the comics that allowed these films to be possible. It was a fitting and beautiful tribute, one that heightened emotions before the film had even begun. ‘Captain Marvel’ is the penultimate film in which we will see a cameo by Stan Lee, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ being the last, having filmed both cameos before his death. It’ll be interesting to see what tribute can be expected from the cinematic event of the year. In ‘Captain Marvel’, Stan Lee appears on a train reading a script, as the hero herself hunts an enemy. She stops to look at him and smiles. It is a lovely moment in the film and an acknowledgement of what everyone else in the audience is feeling when they see him appear onscreen.
With regards to the film itself, Vers (Brie Larson) is introduced as a member of the Kree (‘noble warrior heroes’), a race who are at war with the Skrulls, a race of shape-shifters. Immediately, it is obvious that Vers does not ‘fit in’ with the rest of the Kree, looking very much human when the rest have either blue skin or vivid eyes. If you are wondering if Kree sounds familiar, that’s because we met a Kree fanatic in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1’ in the form of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). In fact, Ronan is not the only familiar face that appears in this film. Along with Ronan, are a rather young looking Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Coulson (Clark Gregg), whose wrinkles disappeared thanks to special effects, as well as Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou), also from Guardians.
The film opens in Hala, the Kree homeland, where Vers is being trained by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) to control her power. After a mission goes wrong Vers ends up on planet C-53, that’s Earth to us mere mortals and tries to piece together her shattered memory. Vers cannot remember anything of her life before arriving at Hala, except for the occasional flash of images that make no sense to her.
Since the MCU began in 2008, we have had to wait until now for them to release their first female-led hero movie. It was a long time coming, but Marvel’s 2019 season started with a bang. Captain Marvel is humorous, sassy, and feminist. Yes, the heroine may be flawed; yes she suffers memory loss and struggles to find herself, but she fights for herself and for those she cares about, and she fights to show that she does not have to prove herself to anyone. Vers doesn’t have to fight a certain way to prove herself worthy to others, she doesn’t have to smile just because a man tells her to; Captain Marvel is nothing but herself.
There are some amazing scenes that highlight the strength of this woman; one sequence shows Vers (or Carol Danvers as she was known before her memory loss) stand up every time she fell down in her life: as a child, in her past life (pre-memory loss), and in her present. It is one of the most powerful moments in the film that I believe would resonate with anyone who has had to fight for the right to just be themselves.
The film itself is set in 1995, and the soundtrack which is used reflects the 90s vibe throughout. It adds nostalgia to the story that has a particular resonance with us 90s kids who grew up listening to TLC and No Doubt and remember only too well the old movie rental stores. The music is used to great effect, especially No Doubt’s ‘I’m Just a Girl’ which is played while Captain Marvel kicks butt.
There are some great funny moments throughout, most notably of Nick Fury and his uncharacteristic adoration of…a cat. Goose is a rather silent player in the film, but steals many of the scenes he is in; so much so that Marvel granted him his own poster. Ben Mendelsohn is also an amazing addition to the cast and is completely hilarious in his role as Skrull leader Talos. And the main woman herself, Brie Larson, portrays a heroine that is strong, powerful, and self-accepting, despite her vulnerabilities and fears; unlocking her strength when she finally realises her true self.
Having waited so long for a female to lead her own film in the MCU, ‘Captain Marvel’, thankfully, was worth the wait; putting forward a message of empowerment. Captain Marvel will now join the Avengers and the other strong women represented in that team in Endgame. Here’s to more strong, empowered female role models that women of all ages can be proud to look up to.
By Shauna Fox – Film Writer