If you’re looking for a superhero origin story that’s outlandish, explosive and external, rewatch Iron Man (2008). Marvel’s Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson in the title role, is a superhero origin story that’s relatable, low key and finds its strength from within.
We first see Captain Marvel as Vers, an elite soldier in a paramilitary team of soldiers called the Kree, she has no idea she’s Carol Danvers, much less Captain Marvel. She can shoot fire out of her fists. She is a team player. She can’t sleep. She has no memory. And she’s admonished for being emotional.
Her power and lack of memories make her vulnerable to the sworn enemies of the Kree, the shape-shifting Skrulls. They abduct her during a raid and try to extract her blocked memories. She escapes but ends up landing on planet Earth circa 1995. This incident introduces Nick Fury, youthful by way of CGI. The CGI used to make Nick Fury look younger bordered on the Uncanny Valley, meaning Fury looked not quite like a human being and looking at him was unsettling. Marvel could have achieved a younger looking Fury with makeup and a wig.
Fury and Vers have a great rapport and this critic enjoyed their buddy cop sarcastic dialogue. They trust each other, work together and each push the other to grow and change throughout the film. And I am not spoiling the film when I say that Fury is a cat person.
It’s a welcome change that directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck shot the film as a character piece and not an over the top action film. The stakes are just as high and more meaningful. Key information is delivered through conversation and connection, not through another action sequence. I found that refreshing and relaxing. There is plenty of action and special effects and explosions, of course, and those scenes have added facets in Captain Marvel. There are some awkward moments. A few of the 90s technology gags were lost on the younger audience members. The soundtrack is great but there’s one song that was utterly out of place – No Doubt’s “Just a Girl”.
I was happy that adequate time was devoted to Captain Marvel uncovering her relationships and her memories. The reveals and relationship rebuilding feels organic and add depth and strength to Captain Marvel and the secondary characters. And that those aspects fit together in a believable way with the larger arc in the film. Carol Danvers’ best friend, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), reminds her friend who she is, “You were my best friend. And you were the most powerful person that I knew. Way before you could shoot fire out of your fists.”
Some viewers were audibly disappointed that there was not a huge battle at the end. But Captain Marvel has nothing to prove to anyone, and those viewers realized that Captain Marvel’s power is not in her fists, but in her humanity.