Captain Marvel

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Captain Marvel
"Cap Marvel is another powerful woman hero to add to the line-up." | Photo: © Marvel Studios 2019

Captain Marvel – or as I shall now think of it, “all the gaps in the Marvel narrative to date neatly plugged and answered” – is a fitting prelude to the year's truly big Marvel event. That, of course, is the long awaited finale to the current story arc as it all comes together in Avengers Endgame.

Questions like: where did Shield obtain its tesseract from – you know: the one that Loki stole in the first movie. No. No spoilers here. Though you will have to wait til the very very end of the film (as in, after ALL of the credits have gone to find out).

Copy picture

Backstory, too, for Ronan, villain of Guardians of the Galaxy, and not a few insights into the Interstellar politics that underpin the events of Avengers: Infinity War – which is where we first learn of the existence of Captain Marvel.

And why does Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) wear an eye patch? Most of all, though, this is an origins film and as exciting and as limited as all in that genre. Exciting? Yes. Because this is nothing less than the history of the character widely acknowledged, canonically speaking, to be one of the most powerful characters in play. Give Thor a run for his money? Oh yes! Take on the Hulk with one hand tied behind her back. Absolutely.

And yet... maybe it is just me or maybe origins films are a bit limited because there are certain obligatory building blocks that need to be crowbarred into place, certain conventions to follow. And these slow down what might be a truly fast paced film.

That is why both Suicide Squad and Justice League do not work well, because they attempt to cram not just one but multiple new character stories into the limited space available.

As for Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)? She awakes from a recurrent dream. Or nightmare. In it, she has survived some sort of catastrophic crash, only to find herself under attack from an alien/member of the villainous race known as the Skrull.

Fast-forward some unspecified number of years and she is now partnered with Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), a member of the elite Kree Star Force; and about to go on her first real mission against the Skrull.

So who is Marvel, or Vers as we are first introduced to her? Blue-blooded Kree (literally!) or red-blooded earth woman? The key here is all about recovering memories – and doing so in good time before the real enemy stands up and takes her out.

And the answer, it seems, lies somewhere on Earth, where Vers lands after a failed mission. Earth but not of today. Rather, we are back in the 90s, allowing the scriptwriters to work in some much appreciated humour about dial-up internet. How did we ever put up with it?

In the end, Marvel, whose real name turns out to be Carol Danvers, links up with Fury and a seriously young Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), taps into the real extent of her powers – which are truly cosmic in scope – and then whips off across the Galaxy on a mercy mission. Thus neatly explaining why she has yet to appear in the Avengers story.

Although, of course, the real issue is one familiar to fans of Golden Age sci-fi, such as the work of author E E “Doc” Smith - and that is power inflation. Because as the years go by, it is inevitable that the threats and therefore the heroes set to save us from them will gradually grow more formidable. Marvel is a truly cosmic superhero and, I suspect, difficult to work into any narrative much less than the truly apocalyptic scenario set up in Avengers Infinity War.

Because, to be honest, there is no team of crimefighters in which it makes sense to line up Marvel alongside the Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff. And that is in no way to diss Natasha. Merely to suggest that setting her alongside Marvel is about as sensible as arming one half of your army with slings, the other with nuclear weapons.

Two nice additional touches. The film is dedicated to Stan Lee, the originator of all origins, and marks the fact that Lee finally passed on from this mortal realm last year.

And second, is the fact of its launch on International Women's Day. Because Cap Marvel is another powerful woman hero to add to the line-up. Because at the end, having downed the (male) villain with little more than a flick of a finger, her riposte to his demand that they fight on his terms is the magnificently feminist: "I have nothing to prove to you."

Those last two two little facts are rebuke, if rebuke were needed, to the bitter boys – the anti-feminists – who hated that another film starring another strong female has materialised in their universe and they have been reacting (how else?) by inundating film review sites with one-star reviews before it even came out. Even though, despite identifying all manner of ways in which this film supposedly disses men, including making Fury do the dishes, they quite failed to spot those two!

Many thanks to the independent Broadway Cinema Letchworth, without whom this review would not have been possible.

Reviewed on: 12 Mar 2019
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Captain Marvel packshot
A superhero gets caught up in a galactic war.

Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Writer: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve, Anna Boden

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Rune Temte, Gemma Chan, Algenis Perez Soto, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Chuku Modu, Matthew Maher, Akira Akbar

Year: 2019

Runtime: 124 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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