I’ll tread carefully here, though I don’t think there are many actual spoilers to worry about. That’s because Captain Marvel is an origin story meant to set the stage for future appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – most importantly, perhaps, in the highly-anticipated Avengers: Endgame. Suffice it to say, Captain Marvel (aka Carol Danvers aka Vers) is poised to become a worthy addition to a franchise that is generally dominated by super-dudes. She’s like a synthesis of Superman (I know, he’s DC Comics, but cut me some slack here) and two of my favorite Marvel Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America. She’s super-fast, super-strong and super-sassy, with an innate ability to absorb and shoot energy from the palms of her hands in a way that is likely to make Spider-Man quite jealous. So where did she come from?
Earth, basically. But her DNA was fused in an explosion with that of a Kree, a species of intergalactic warriors. She was essentially reborn as an adult Kree known as Vers (pronounced Veers), with awesome powers that her yoda-like mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) spent six years training her to use and control in battle.
Fast-forward to 1995 and Vers is sent to Earth, aka Planet C-53 to fight the Kree’s mortal enemy, the shape-shifting lizardy-looking Skrulls, led by Talos (an awesome Ben Mendelsohn, Darkest Hour, Rogue One). Skrulls can take on the appearance of humans and cause all sorts of mistaken-identity mayhem.
Then… a bunch of stuff happens that has Vers questioning who she is, who she was, and what she’s fighting for. (see, no spoilers).
So what sets this film apart from the rest of the sci-fi fantasy superhero action flicks? Truth be told, not all that much. But it does offer up a significant piece in the MCU puzzle, and goes admirably full-throttle on the girl power, largely due to the versatility of Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson (Room) as Vers/Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, plus Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, a military test pilot who was best buds with (presumed dead) Danvers, and Annette Bening as a character known as “Supreme Intelligence.”
The movie also sheds light on the backstory of MCU mainstays Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), showing them in their early days as agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Both actors get about 20 years shaved off their looks through the magic of digital technology. It’s wild to see Nick Fury with hair and sans eye-patch.
There’s also an impressive, scene-stealing performance from a cat named Goose (special nod to Top Gun there). The orange tabby gets some pivotal screen time, and a plot twist all its own.
Captain Marvel was co-written and co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck who are better known for indie fare. This is their first big-budget studio collaboration and it’s a doozy. No pressure, right? For those who may be wondering, Captain Marvel isn’t better or worse than Wonder Woman. It’s just different, in that DC Comics versus Marvel sensibility sort of way. It’s cool to cheer for both; and it’s long overdue that the decade-old MCU puts a female superhero front and center. Avengers, assemble! And don’t forget to call Captain Marvel. She’s got some serious skills.
Of course, no Marvel movie is complete without holding the audience through the entire end credits with a couple of bonus scenes – one in the middle, and one at the end. Also of note, there is a sweet homage to comic legend Stan Lee in the opening sequence, and a trademark cameo in the film itself that was filmed before he died last November. His legend will certainly live on, as the MCU keeps rolling along.