I’m going to be upfront – I don’t know much about Captain Marvel. They haven’t appeared much in the Marvel Chronological Reading Order, yet. I’m around 1974 in the reading order and Captain Mar-vell is still in their original form (sort of), trapped in the negative zone and attached to the most evil entity in the entire universe – Rick Jones.
Rick isn’t really evil, I just don’t like him. He was attached to the Hulk first of all, then the Teen Brigade trying to help the Avengers, then he ditched those to pretend to be Bucky and Captain America’s sidekick, and then eventually left Captain America after finding the cosmic ‘nega-bands’ that contained the power of Captain Mar-vell. Thankfully, Rick Jones does not appear in Captain Marvel in anyway.
Carol Denvars has appeared briefly in the comics at this point, as the head of security at the Air Force Base that Mar-vel ‘works’ at in his disguised form of ‘Walter Lawson’. She gets the feeling that there’s something not right about Lawson and investigates and ends up seriously injured in a blast caused by a Kree device.
So, there’s some loose connections to the comic lore from what I understand already, but let’s be honest here – the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is interesting because of its lose connection to the established lore. The way it mixes features from the Ultimate timeline and 616-Universe (the ‘Main’ comic universe) has always been fun to me, and makes the movies their own universe.
Anyway, the movie’s Captain Marvel is fun. Brie Larson is fun. It felt like the movie was at full throttle from the moment it started, with only the briefest of pit stops. I enjoyed the mix of Space Opera and Earth drama, it finally felt like the MCU was starting to show the conflict and fallout throughout the universe only briefly hinted at throughout its 10 years.
Thor, and Avengers gave us glimpse of the Cosmic elements of Marvel, with Guardians of the Galaxy giving us a larger view with the introduction of the Kree (all the while hinting, name dropping and building up the reputation of Thanos). Yet, the larger Cosmic events always felt like a backdrop to the story being told, with little to no consequences of wider actions being shown or talked about. The stories always centred on the characters, as you’d expect in a movie about superheroes. Thor, rightfully focused on Thor and his relationship with both Loki and Odin; Guardians of the Galaxy focused on a band of characters, and also managed to show Ronin the Accuser’s desire for greater power (which in hindsight might have been driven by the events he witnessed in Captain Marvel). However, I wouldn’t say either film established a true power struggle, or fallout from the actions seen.
Captain Marvel does. It further establishes the Kree and introduces the Skrull, and manages to show the struggle for power and the feeling of desperation happening on the Cosmic level.
The opening act establishes Captain Marvel as part of a covert Kree team, desperately trying to rescue one of their contacts that holds information vital to the safety of the Kree Empire from the vile, deadly Skrull looking to wipe them out. It plays on Marvel’s ‘inability’ to control her emotions, and because of that her powers, it introduces the Skrull as masters of impersonation due to their shapeshifting abilities — yet all the while it has wonderful undertones of what is to come throughout the movie.
The loose Jean Le Carre-esque undertones of ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’ played on my mind early on – just who did I trust. The Skrull? The Kree? Was Captain Marvel a Kree? Was she a Skrull? Was she human?
I went into the movie with little-to-no media knowledge, I like to avoid trailers for movies I want to see, as I often feel trailers show too much now. Yet, thankfully, Marvel tend to digitally alter their trailers to omit details, and frame them in such a way to present an alternative story.
The action shifts to Earth, with Captain Marvel crash landing into a Blockbusters – instantly establishing it is the 90s! I liked this entire scene, especially the interaction with the rent-a-cop that has witnessed it all. It instantly shows you just how out of touch Earth is with everything going on across the Galaxy. The way Marvel assumes the security guard will know what she’s talking about, and understand the protocols, meanwhile the security guard is sitting there in the car with mouth wide open.
Remember, this is the 90s. Iron Man hasn’t happened. New York hasn’t been invaded by the Chitauri. Everything is normal, as normal as can be.
The ‘Men in Black’ arrival of SHIELD was wonderful, too. The CGI on Coulson’s face, not as much. Yet, Fury’s face never bothered me once – I’m sure there was a Pulp Fiction reference with the car. Maybe.
The CGI is perhaps the biggest flaw in the movie, there are times where it is so poor it pulled me out of my little suspension of disbelief bubble. It was usually notable during the moments where Captain Marvel was in full flow power mode and the would be slow motion pans around her.
Anyway, the Skrull’s ability to infiltrate is explored fully, and executed well enough to leave me wondering just who might be a Skrull. The slicing of Marvel’s flashback scenes, dropping in just enough detail and changing detail, were enough to keep me wondering who’s side she was on.
The interactions between Fury and Marvel, and the building of trust, further plays into the Jean Le Carre elements of the movie, and there’s even some crude spy techniques used by Fury that left me wanting Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD Movie at some point. I don’t think we’ll ever see one, but hey. Meanwhile, Captain Marvel is unashamed of her alien heritage and superpowers, openly brash about it, freely using them whenever. I loved this. Why not use those powers – there’s even a scene later where Captain Marvel goes full on Star Wars trench fighter mode.
Yet, the movie explores Marvel’s past and questions what is reality and what was planted in her memory. I enjoyed watching Marvel explore for clues and piece bits of her previous life together, slowly uncovering the secrets. This is an origin movie that is fragmented enough to not be an origin movie – and I love that.
Overall this is a fun, action-packed movie that blends the intrigue of a spy movie with the romp of a space opera. It is a perfect standalone movie, and probably the best place to start watching the MCU if you’ve somehow managed to not see any of the previous 20 movies over the last 10 years.
I don’t want to say too much about the overall plot and events within the movie, as I enjoyed the wonder of just who was who. Yet, there is one question that I know some will be asking: Why didn’t Fury use Captain Marvel from the start?
She was too busy saving the galaxy.
(Slight spoilers – this is a review after all)
Without a doubt Captain Marvel is the most powerful hero in the Galaxy, the film does well to establish this. Her powers can repel fleets, so much so that Ronin the Accuser flees (and probably seeks out Thanos and greater power for protection). She has helped the Kree destroy and damage the Skrulls, after being brainwashed and controlled by the Kree to do so. It’s fitting that Marvel feels a need to leave Earth and correct that – that’s what Heroes do.
She even tells Fury that the pager is ‘only for emergencies’, and we know Fury starts the Avengers Protocol shortly after Marvel leaves. He begins to prepare Earth for what’s out there, knowing that Marvel isn’t around to protect Earth. His Avengers manage to save Earth a number of times, before Thanos ultimately snaps his fingers, which leads Fury to snap his own and recall Captain Marvel.
I’m hyped for End Game now. I believe in the power of Captain Marvel as a game changer, the movie establishes that well. While it may not move the greater overarching story of the MCU at all, it does introduce us to Captain Marvel and just what she can do. Was this the event that Doctor Strange saw? Did he see that ultimately he had to let Thanos ‘win’, so Fury would call in Captain Marvel? Is Captain Marvel the only power in the Cosmos to compete against Thanos and the Infinity stones?
I can’t wait to find out.