Directors Anna Boyden and Ryan Fleck (Mississippi Grind) are known for their eccentric collaborations full of quirky characters and odd situations, and now within the format of a Stan Lee Marvel film. “Captain Marvel” is greatly entertaining with old school matinee fun. The film spills over with color, action, humor and heart. It also has a serious and very real message that women can and have always been an indispensable part of our world’s equilibrium.
Wonder Woman has competition. Vers—Carol Danvers (Brie Larson)— has been having wild dreams. She has visions of flying, of joining the military and crashing. Now she is on the planet of Hala and very confused. Yon Rogg (Jude Law) sends her on a rescue mission and also entrusts her to stop an alien invasion of Skrulls, green humanoid beings thought to be violent.
This takes Vers to Earth where a suspenseful chase takes place at an L.A. monorail station. Here she meets Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). After some shape-shifting surprises the two develop a wise-cracking rapport which is refreshingly honest and amusing largely due to the plain joy that Larson has with the role. The actor is enjoying herself and to the directors’ great credit, it shows.
Above all, underneath the amusing action sequences, one gets to really see Vers/ Carol Danvers as the being she is, a person with heart and spirit. Danvers is a courageous thrill seeker with a pure desire to make a difference. She is empathetic and sensitive with a belief that most are good. This is what it takes to be a hero.
There are authentic dramatic moments between Danvers and her best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch). Rambeau is a superhero in her own right. Her friendship with Danvers is not the stuff of melodrama and is something every re-united friend can relate to.
Add to this the fact that the sinister sounding Skrulls are in fact refugees who are only looking for a home, and we have a pop art story of great poignance for our times despite some “Star Trek” trappings.
Somehow even the kitsch adds to the heart.
Annette Bening and Jude Law both play fearsome beings, self-righteous and drunk with power.
The star of the show however is Larson. Great fun it is to see aspects of a male-centered society shown to be archaic, outdated and silly: the large policeman, the arrogant male agent, the over-hormonal hulking superman in the form of a grimacing Jude Law.
Carol Danvers shows that the true essence of a superhero exists not in muscle but in the mind and the ability is genderless and accessible to everyone.
Along with the very first “Avenger” film, this chapter reveals itself to be heartfelt joy in comic form, without forced laughs or knotty plot-lines. Even its highlighted elements from the 1990s, featuring Nirvana, Grunge and the neon of “Star Trek” and “Battlestar Galactica” is endearing and subtle.
“Captain Marvel” shows the genuine progression of a young woman into a literal star-hero—sane, just and empowered—a condition that is possible for us all if we so choose, through our thought and action.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org