CAPTAIN MARVEL [Review]: Carol’s ‘The Man’!

JaDarrell “The Belser”
@TheBelser

Hola, ladies and gents. Hope you are having a Marvelous morning. It’s your boy the Belser, here, and I am back again on the movie review tip. You are looking at the title correctly. Yes, I have seen it! My selection tonight is the 21st film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Captain Marvel. Now the past few weeks, you folks have been seeing several posts on my Instagram, my Facebook or whatever other social media handle I may have explaining my love for this character and its lineage.

Due to my excitement for this film’s release, I’ve also been doing a series of articles that detail the history of all characters who have carried the name Captain Marvel. NOTE: This movie’s title character is the 6th hero to carry that name. Since I just watched the film, I will sum it up as such: Captain Marvel is not at all what most people are expecting…

HERE’S THE STORY

Set in 1995 — after Captain America is frozen in ice but before Tony Stark reveals himself as Iron Man to the world — Captain Marvel follows Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), a soldier with extensive memory loss working as a member of an alien strike team known as the Starforce for the Kree Empire. During a mission gone bad, Carol is subjected to a treatment by the Kree’s mortal enemies, the Skrulls, that triggers her lost memories. Circumstances have Carol ending up on Earth, where her arrival and activities get the attention of grizzled field agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). With Fury’s help, Carol must recover her memories in time to save the world from being caught in the conflict between two intergalactic empires.

CAROL DANVERS

One of the biggest concerns for most fans of this movie was the casting of Larson as Carol Danvers AKA Captain Marvel. She is known to be very outspoken about women’s rights and can sometimes put her foot in her mouth. Also, a lot of people felt Larson was too young and too thin to play such a powerful character. To my pleasant surprise, she pulls off the role. There are moments when Brie can come across as stiff, but it’s easy to compare her and Chris Evans first cast as Captain America. The natural flow will come.

Welcome to Death Valley.

Another concern geeks had of Larson’s portrayal? She was coming across as ‘too grim’ in the trailers. However, she is quite funny, smiles quite a bit and is shown to be a very impulsive and tenacious person. I also identify with Danvers as an Armed Forces veteran. Brie did a lot of research into the Air Force, even flying with experience female pilots. I can respect that.

EARTH FRIENDS

Captain Marvel is intended to be the bridge between Earth and the Cosmos for the MCU. While it is mainly centered on Carol, the movie also works as a “sort of” origin story for a character we first witnessed in the post credit scene of Iron Man: Nick Fury. This version of Fury is much different than what we’ve seen before. In most movies, Fury is the coolest of the cool and there isn’t much that fazes him. This Nick is a bored desk jockey who is unsure of where his future is going. However, we see how meeting Danvers completely changes Fury’s entire worldview. He realizes the universe is much bigger than he realized and that there are threats out there the world is not ready for.

“Motha#$&@%!”

Also, the chemistry between Sam and Brie comes across as a sci-Fi version of Riggs and Murtaugh from the Lethal Weapon movies. Larson is the more risk-taking, snarky, fun-loving badass– where Jackson is more of a by-the-book office man who is swept up in this crazy adventure. We also learn how Fury lost the use of his eye. It will really change how you see him in the other MCU movies. In fact, we learn more about Nick than ever before (where he was born, his military past, pet peeves, etc.). De-aging technology was used on Jackson for this entire movie to make him look much younger than he is, using his character from the 1998 movie The Negotiator as a basis for his look.

CM also marks the return of another fan-favorite to the big screen: Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson. If you recall the first Iron Man, Coulson is the first indication to the world of the secret organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Of course, we all know he was killed off in The Avengers and has since gone on to star in his own long-running ABC show, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This movie shows Coulson as a younger rookie and wingman to Nick Fury in the role that would continue well into The Avengers.

Another Earthbound edition to the life of Carol Danvers comes in the form of her best friend, former pilot Maria Rambeau, played by actress Lashana Lynch. In the comics Maria Rambeau is a lesser known character, but she plays a very important role here; Maria is to Carol what Rhodey is to Tony Stark or what Falcon is to Steve Rogers. The real standout is Akira Akbar who plays Maria’s little daughter Monica. Monica looks up to Carol much like how Cassie Lang looks up to her father Scott in the Ant-Man movies. like Cassie, Monica Rambeau is a precocious little kid with a big afro who comes with great one-liners and really believes in the hero. NOTE: Monica Rambeau in the comic books is the first female Captain Marvel and they allude to this possibility quite a few times in the movie.

THE KREE

On the cosmic side of the character, we get some more callbacks from Marvel’s cosmic franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy. These characters come in the form of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and Korath the Pursuer (Djimon Hounsou). Both characters are dead in modern MCU, but they are alive and well here. Both characters are just used as supporting connective tissue compared to the other new Kree that are introduced in this film. First and foremost, would be the mysterious character played by Jude Law, who is the Starforce Commander. Let me clear all that speculation right now: Law plays a character known as Yon-Rogg. Yon-Rogg acts as a mentor to Carol and throughout the movie, he is sort of a guiding force for her when things get too heated. He is also a staunch loyalist and will always put duty ahead of any sort of personal entanglement.

Good morning.

Another in a long line of great actors brought into the MCU is Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominated actress Annette Bening. I can’t divulge too much about her character without spoiling. Let’s just call her important. The rest of the Starforce are all decent in their roles like Gemma Chan from the film Crazy Rich Asians. They’re not really given much to do here.

THE SKRULLS

The Skrulls are introduced in this movie to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Having been around since Fantastic Four #2 in 1962, Skrulls are also the very first alien race introduced in Marvel Comics. These shape-shifting lizard people have been featured in, more or less, every single major Marvel comic at some point. They also have contributed to some of the best storylines in comic book history, most notably THE KREE-SKRULL WAR (which a lot of this movie is based on) and the SECRET INVASION angle. Since they can shapeshift, anybody could be a Skrull at any given moment. They play with that aspect in this movie several times and it’s quite cool.

The lead Skrull in this movie is Talos, played by veteran actor Ben Mendelsohn. I’ve been a fan of Mendelsohn’s work since THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. This character, along with Monica Rambeau, are the real standouts of the movie. Talos is not at all how he’s portrayed in the film’s marketing and his motivations are the best surprise of the movie. He’s so intriguing and charming. The rest of the Skrulls are pretty much indiscriminate, but it’s still cool to see them in live action for the first time.

’90s NOSTALGIA

One thing Captain Marvel does quite well is the nostalgia factor for the 1990s. I recall many of the filmmakers stating that they drew inspiration from movies from the 80s and 90s when making this movie. In fact, watching Captain Marvel felt a lot like watching a ’90s movie, which I dug very much. Its many inspirations include movies that feature memory loss or recovery like TOTAL RECALL and ROBOCOP. CM’s desert locales reminded me of INDEPENDENCE DAY and the inner-city chase sequences had a TERMINATOR 2 vibe to them. I loved seeing old stores that I haven’t seen in years. Blockbuster Video. Tower Records. The old Radio Shack logo. Internet cafes. Dial up internet. Oh, yeah.

The music on the soundtrack is so 90s-centric, it might as well be a NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL MUSIC CD. The soundtrack features hits from acts like Salt N Pepa, TLC, R.E.M., Nirvana and No Doubt. I also caught certain pop culture references from that particular time frame like MTV’s ROCK THE VOTE and arcade games like STREET FIGHTER 2 and SPACE INVADERS. This film also features a touching tribute to the late great Stan Lee, as this is the first MCU movie to be released posthumously. Fun Fact: While Lee did create the original Marvel version of Captain Marvel, Stan did not create Carol Danvers. Stan still makes his obligatory cameo in this movie which was filmed before his passing. It has another fun reference to another ’90s non-superhero movie that Stan appeared in, which I will not spoil here.

FEMINIST CONTROVERSY

One thing that’s kind of clouded a lot of people’s perception of Captain Marvel is some recent controversy. Some nerds feel that this movie is intended as a man-hating piece of pro feminist propaganda. The basis of this is only because it’s a superhero movie that has a female lead. Well, let me make this clear: It’s NOT! This movie shows women as positive role models. However, Captain Marvel does not beat you over the head with that message; rather, the flick centers on a powerful character who happens to be a woman. I don’t see any problem with the vibe whatsoever. Internet trolls have actively campaigned to try to sabotage its box office opening. I just find it strange that a bunch of grown men are going out of their way to stop a movie that they haven’t even seen yet. Don’t read into the hate, folks.

Yeah, we bad. We bad.

THE FINAL VERDICT

Now comes the big question: Would I watch this movie again? My answer: Hell yes! I have one major grievance with this movie but it’s more of a personal thing about one character portrayal. It won’t affect anybody else, as it’s just a gripe of mine. Captain Marvel was so much more fun than even *I* — a Captain Marvel expert — was anticipating. I know a lot of women and little girls will enjoy this flick as well as many veterans. NOTE: There are two post credit scenes (one of which plays directly into the upcoming film AVENGERS: ENDGAME). Go check this movie out and have a good time. This movie not only gets the Belser Seal of Approval, but I bestow upon it my highest honor: THE ALL-STAR (Named after my favorite Snork) as a MUST-SEE. 5/5 Bibles.

-JaDarrel Belser

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