Brie Larsen is Captain Marvel - yah boo sucks Trolls!
Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Cast: Brie Larson (Carol Danvers/Veers), Samuel L Jackson (Nick Fury), Jude Law (Yon-Rogg), Ben Mendelsohn (Talos/Keller), Djimon Hounsou (Korath), Lee Pace (Ronan the Accuser), Lashana Lynch (Maria Rambeau), Gemma Chan (Minn-Evra), Annette Bening (Supreme Intelligence/Mar-Vell/Dr Wendy Lawson), Clark Gregg (Phil Coulsen)
After almost 11 years, the big criticism of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been that it had never made a film with a woman as the lead. Sure, we’d had various strong female characters, but never had one been trusted with headlining a movie. Well the studio has put that right with Captain Marvel, a hugely enjoyable, if not exactly groundbreaking, superhero origins story that can stand up with some of the best origin movies the studio has produced.
In the Kree civilisation, Veers (Brie Larson) is in training to take her proper place in the Star Force, under the tutelage of her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). But she’s struggling to control her immense powers, with her dreams plagued by strange visions and half memories of a planet that looks to us viewers a lot like Earth. After a Star Force mission goes wrong, Veers is captured by the shape-shifting Skrulls and their leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), her memory being searched for a time on Earth that she doesn’t remember. Escaping, she finds herself on Earth in 1995, and quickly allies with SHIELD operative Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson, impressively digitally de-aged) to find out what the Skrulls want. But is everything as it appears? And what will happen as Veers starts to remember her true identity, as long-missing air-force test pilot Carol Danvers?
Captain Marvel I guess you could say is not an ambitious film. It largely sits pretty close to the well-established Marvel formula for introducing a new character, and it presents a series of visuals, fights and general tone mixing light-jokes with action beats extremely well. It’s a very professionally assembled product. However, what makes it work is the strain of emotional truth, and an interest in character as the driving force for events, that runs right through the centre of the film. It’s a testament to the imaginative and original direction from Boden and Fleck that at the centre of each clash we see, not the action and the pyrotechnics, but the emotion and character that give these things meaning.
They are also helped by an interesting plot, with some very decent twists, that throws the viewers into the deep end and carefully drip-feeds us information at the same pace as Carol picks it up. This also helps hugely for investing in Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers, a character who doesn’t know who she is and where she came from. Brie Larson does a terrific job, crafting a character “strong and determined”, but also witty, impulsive, brave, caring, decent and rather sweet with a strong moral compass that clearly, from the start, governs all her actions. It’s a fine performance and Larson is equally convincing in the film’s lighter, funnier moments as she is when banging heads together.
That helps keep the tone of the film pretty consistent as it heads through various twists and turns and rugpulls. Now I am sure some of these twists would be seen coming by anyone immersed in Marvel comicbook lore, but for us Muggles I appreciated the reveals about several characters defying expectations. The film also avoids false tension – a character is so obviously a shapeshifted replacement, it’s a relief that the film confirms this in minutes and the characters work it out shortly after. It’s a smart way for the film to fool you into thinking where it is going, while building towards more interesting reveals later on – particularly as it throws our expectations for several characters into the air.
And the action when it takes place is great fun, primary-coloured and accompanied by a great selection of 90s tracks. Because Boden and Fleck have spent so much time carefully developing the characters at its heart, these become action moments you can genuinely invest in, where people you care about are in peril, rather than the bangs and crashes without consequence that plague other films.
It’s also mixed extremely well with comedy. Samuel L Jackson in particular gets some great comic mileage out of a young Nick Fury, a man on his way to becoming the hard-as-nails guy we’ve seen in countless movies, but here still young, playful and (hilariously) besotted with a cat rather wittily called “Goose”. Ben Mendelsohn also gets some good moments from his mysterious shape shifter and Jude Law has a sort of put-upon charm as Carol’s mentor. There are also some lovely moments as Carol rediscovers her memories and rebuilds a relationship with her former best friend and fellow test pilot Maria Rambeau, well played by Lashana Lynch.
Captain Marvel is such good fun, such good old fashioned entertainment, that it seems to have defeated the efforts of the internet trolls to consign it to oblivion. It’s sad to say that, following in the footsteps of Black Panther, The Last Jedi, Star Trek: Discovery and Doctor Who, another “fan boy” franchise entry has seen its opening overshadowed by a bunch of sad wankers with key boards hammering into the internet (and whining into YouTube) about Disney and “the suits” forcing fans to watch stories about people who aren’t white males. Larsen and Captain Marvel got it in the neck for being sexist (it’s not about a man and Larsen dared to say she thought film critics were overwhelmingly white and male – guilty in this case), pushing a feminist agenda (because, like, it had a woman in it that wasn’t a damsel-in-distress or hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold) and not representing what the fans wanted to see in comic films (muscular men saving ladies and hitting things basically). Never mind that social commentary in the old days used to be what these fans bragged about their passions being so full of. Now any character who doesn’t fit a narrow set of racial and sexual criteria is an attempt by the PC brigade to push these pricks out of the fandom. Well to be honest we are better off without this turgid slime polluting fandom with their putrid stench. Put frankly, if films like Captain Marvel make some idiots decide they are going to boycott Marvel for ever more, well good – please fuck off and let the door slam you on your arse on the way out.
Anyway, rant over. Captain Marvel is great fun, Brie Larsen is great, the action is well done, the jokes are funny, the story is engaging and it’s all done and dusted in two hours. Go and see it.