Film Review: Captain Marvel

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The long-awaited Captain Marvel, the first of the (twenty-one) MCU films that centres solely
around a female lead, flew onto our UK screens on the 8th of March. The choice of releasing
the film on International Women’s Day might seem on the nose for some, but it aptly ties in
perfectly with the film’s overall themes of female strength and empowerment. Its success at
the box office – Forbes puts it at $215 million and counting at the US box office and $600
million worldwide – clearly indicates these themes are resonating with audiences around the
globe.

Captain Marvel is an origin story, but its method of storytelling varies from the usual tropes:
rather than a chronological setup, we are first introduced to the title hero as a human named
Vers, who has been rescued from the brink of death and subsequently trained by a race of
aliens known as the Kree before the film begins. We are not told how this came about, nor
how Vers obtained her unique powers, but we are informed of a deep and long-running feud
between the Kree and another alien race known as the Skrulls. After the first of many intense
battle sequences, Vers ends up on our planet Earth in the 1990s and ends up joining forces
with an extremely youthful Nick Fury (thanks to age altering CGI) played by the distinctive
Samuel L. Jackson. Vers ends up discovering more about her own past, including
her life as the human Carol Danvers, as well as key revelations that shake her world and
beliefs to their very core.

Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios, confirmed before the film’s release that Captain
Marvel will be the strongest of all the MCU superheroes, and Brie Larson plays the title hero
brilliantly as a force to be reckoned with. Not only does she possess incredible
superhuman abilities, but she also shows an innate inner strength which is linked to her
human life as one of the first female pilots in the US Air Force during a time of rampant
gender-based discrimination. The emphasis on the power of human ability is what resonates
with the audience and makes the character so powerful: unlike DC’s Wonder Woman (an
undeniable icon in her own right), Captain Marvel’s humanity elevates her superhuman
abilities, especially later on as the film progresses.

Captain Marvel features many strong supporting roles, such as Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull
leader Talos and Samuel L. Jackson as the youthful Nick Fury. The dynamic-duo/buddy-
cop elements that Danvers and Fury bring to the movie is perfectly executed. Though Fury
has always been at the forefront of various Marvel films as the grizzled leader of SHIELD,
the light humour brought upon by his interactions with Danvers as well as Goose the cat
(who was, of course, adorable and arguably stole the show in the second half) serves as a
contrast to the previous MCU films and uplifts the script in some of its clunkier moments.
The diversity in the casting is also a welcome addition; though Gemma Chan and Algenis
Perez Soto are both actors of colour, their inclusion as two of the blue-skinned Kree fighters
signify an important change in the sci-fi world that the default for alien races is no longer
white. Though this is a small aspect of the film, it nevertheless speaks volumes about how
Captain Marvel seeks to challenge perspectives across the board.

The Verdict

Though Captain Marvel won’t have the same cultural impact as Black Panther, having a
female-led film in one of the most extensive and successful cinematic universes feels like a
choice that has been a long time coming. Hopefully, this is only the beginning in terms of
having more diverse title characters (having more people of colour would be a welcome
addition), and as Captain Marvel continues to rise in the box office the next time we will be able to see our fearless heroine will be in the much-hyped Avengers: Endgame, out in just over a month on April 25th.

Rating: 8/10

Words by Yasmin Bye

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