Captain Marvel Review: Kick Ass Tribute to Women, Heroes, Space & the ’90s

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Captain Marvel Featured

Captain Marvel is the 21st film released by Marvel Studios in the Cinematic Universe lineup. The film takes place in the 1990s and serves as a prequel to The Avengers and all of the events that have lead up to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Captain Marvel is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and written by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Nicole Perlman, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Meg LeFauve, Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch.

The film is one hell of a thrill ride. Part space epic, part spy film, part throwback to ’90s nostalgia, the film fires on all pistons. We get to see Captain Marvel before she was a “Captain”. We get to see Nick Fury before he was “Director,” when he had both eyes open. We get to see a very young and dashing Phil Coulson, who proved that he was a good man long before the Battle of New York. We even get to see an Infinity Stone — but more on that later. Every moment in Captain Marvel was decisive, every scene served as a love letter to both Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios, and if Carol rediscovering her humanity didn’t make the audience cry (oh it did), the beautiful tributes to the late Stan Lee most definitely did.

Strap in for The Marvel Report’s SPOILER-FILLED REVIEW of Captain Marvel.

Come As You Are

Captain-Marvel-Trailer

Captain Marvel is a film about self-discovery

“Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be.” Kurt Cobain’s haunting lyrics sing out over Carol as she comes face to with the Supreme Intelligence. Who am I? Who was I? Who do you want me to be? These questions define Carol Danvers’ journey throughout Marvel’s latest film Captain Marvel. “As a friend, as a friend, as a known enemy,” these lyrics from Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” perfectly define this film, as Carol discovers who she is, who she was, and who her true friends and enemies really are.

The Kree Intelligence wants Carol to be one thing. Yon-Rogg wants her to be one thing. Talos wants her to be something too. But who does Carol want to be? This is something she has been trying to figure out for the last six years on Hala, the Kree home world. She has a name — Vers — she has powers — photonic blasts — but who is she? This is the 125 minute journey we go on with Captain Marvel in the film.

As I Want You to Be

No one can control a superhero

When we meet Carol Danvers, played by Academy Award winning actress Brie Larson (Room), she’s struggling with her identity. This isn’t a metaphor, she literally has no memory of her life before being Vers. We see her training with a Kree man who appears to be her mentor, Yon-Rogg, played by the always wonderful Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes). Vers and Rogg go back and forth, sparring for fun and for training. Rogg tells her “I want you to be the best version of yourself,” and he appears genuine. However, he is repeating phrases we have heard one too many times in training montages: learn to control your powers, control your emotions. Control. This is an immediate red flag for any Marvel fan, because Marvel heroes aren’t known for controlling anything. They get angry, they get bold, they unleash the fullness of their gifts. Whether it’s Roger’s compassion, Stark’s intelligence, or Hulk’s rage — no one controls an Avenger.

As You Were

Her past holds the keys to unlocking her future

When Vers is kidnapped by the Skrulls, they tap into her memories. Specifically, the day the Kree found her. There was a crash. There was a woman. There was a power surge. This memory reveals a clue to Vers’ past, something called Project Pegasus.

When Vers lands on Earth, she connects with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who reluctantly trusts her. Project Pegasus leads them on a journey to discovering the real Carol Danvers, her flight mentor Lawson, and her co-pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch). As the audience is getting to know Vers, Vers is getting to know herself. She discovers that she’s not really Kree, that she was part of top secret test program, and that her mentor was the real Kree warrior named Mar-Vel. This is a fantastic twist from the comics, where Mar-Vel was a male Kree. This Mar-Vel is played by the stunning, Golden Globe winning Annette Bening.

As a Friend

Nick Fury has always been a friend of heroes

It’s interesting that Nick Fury plays such a significant role in the film. Since this takes place in the 1990s, Marvel couldn’t really have Tony Stark or Captain America show up. However, since Nick was the one who assembled the Avengers Initiative in the first place, it makes sense that he would have been inspired to do so by both a great threat — the Kree — and a great hero, Carol Danvers.

As a Known Enemy

Some friends are enemies and some enemies are friends

Throughout the film the Skrulls are presented as enemies. Anyone who has read the comics know that the Skrulls invade planets and typically take over nations by shapeshifting. While this appears to be true in Captain Marvel, it’s actually a complete misdirection. The secret of the Skrulls is one of the biggest surprises of the film. Just as Carol discovers the source of her power, she also discovers that Yon-Rogg and the Kree are her enemies and that the Skrulls are actually her friends.

In the black box recording from Lawson’s ship, Carol discovers that Rogg killed Mar-Vel. Mar-vel’s entire experiment was to help the Skrulls and not hurt them. She was going to use Tesseract technology to transport the remaining Skrulls to safety. WHOMP WHOMP. Turns out the Kree really are fanatics, which is why Ronan (Lee Pace) comes to destroy Earth and why he is still destroying planets in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Memoria, Memoria

Her memories revealed that she was the weapon

The black box recording also revealed how Carol got her powers. The energy force that Lawson was experimenting on, the force powered by the Tesseract AKA the space gem, gave Carol her powers. When Rogg tried to take it from Lawson, Danvers destroyed it. But, the blast of it consumed her entire body, transforming her DNA, turning her into the very power source Lawson created.

This moment was when the film came full circle. Danvers didn’t need to control her powers, she was power, and she needed to unleash it. The Kree didn’t give her these powers, the device on her neck was actually dampening them, not sourcing them. The only Kree DNA in her body was from Rogg — she was still 100% human — fulled by pure Tesseract energy. Much in the way that Scarlet Witch and Vision were enhanced by the Mind Stone, Captain Marvel was enhanced by the Space Stone.

Her memories also helped her realize that it was not her Kree DNA that would help her overpower Rogg, but it was her humanity. Her strength to get up every single time she was knocked down. Much like Steve Rogers, she saw herself “doing this all day”, overcoming every odd that was ever thrown at her. This combination of Tesseract energy and human resilience helped her unleash her full power, which stopped Rogg and Ronan’s attacks on the Earth.

All and all, Captain Marvel is a fantastic film. It’s funny, it’s charming, it’s full of powerful moments, it sets up the Avengers Initiative, it connects to the Guardians films, it even connects to Thanos and the Infinity Gems. If the world had to wait for Marvel to give a female superhero her own film, we are glad Carol got to be first. She is humble and powerful, she is smart and compassionate, AND she’s powered by an Infinity Gem, You know what that means — she will be coming for Thanos in Avengers: Endgame.

Captain Marvel is currently in theaters.

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