To quote Samuel L. Jackson from another classic of his – “Hold onto your butts!” After months, nay years, of anticipation, excitement and intrigue, the greatest and most powerful Marvel superhero has arrived in for her glossy, kaleidoscopic debut. Faster, stronger is the name of the game as Captain Marvel bursts the MCU seams wide open in this landmark film that frustratingly asks more questions than it gives firm answers. But that’s just the way we like it.
As Marvel, Oscar winner Brie Larson brings a new dimension to proceedings – in more ways than one – in an origin story that while hitting the beats you would expect, subverts them just enough to make it seem fresh and new. Directors and co-writers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s slightly off-kilter sensibilities give the film a much needed extra dimension amongst all of the standard issue stuff. At the same time, it still brilliantly layers in themes of family and friendship, as well as prescient real-world problems of immigration, the refugee crisis, and political power and corruption.
That’s not to discount their visual flair, however, as they deliver some of the best we have seen through the franchise thus far. The final half hour is a real colour-overload in the best possible way – and it has all the comic-book goodness we have come to expect. Indeed, if anything, the film aligns itself much closer to Batman Begins than any of the other MCU origins in that it tries to break out of the box a little whilst still maintaining the “oh, that’s where they come from” motif as standard. It’s a little scattered mind you, which is perhaps a symptom of multiple writers on it, and loses its momentum in the second act before it peaks again with the aforementioned finale that leaves a big grin on the face.
Larson, who has had to wait the best part of three years to share the film after her announced involvement back in 2016, was always a spot-on piece of casting (do they ever get it wrong?) and she exudes all the power, wit, intelligence and strength that many had hoped, more in fact. Alongside a de-aged Jackson, in perhaps his best outing as Nicholas J. Fury, – sorry, FURY – there’s a wonderful playfulness between them that electrifies and helps keep the momentum going just as the saggy parts of the script threaten to derail it. It’s Ben Mendelsohn, villain of a thousand films, who is the MVP here in a pitch-perfect portrayal of Talos, the Kree leader to whom there is much more than meets the eye, so to speak.
We are in the Endgame now as we know, and once the final Avengers film (or is it?) concludes, Marvel find themselves in something of uncharted territory: given that some permanent ramifications will show themselves in due course and, in turn, their need to introduce new characters to the mix – each perhaps needing origin stories – they face their monolithic franchise slowly burning out. Fear not, we say. If those future endeavours – whether of the Eternal variety or the mutant variety – are as slick, dynamic and gratifying as this one is then we have a lot more fun to have along the way.