Captain Marvel (2019)

After the downbeat ending of “The Avengers: Infinity War,” there stood some beacon of hope in the post credits scene where Nick Fury pressed a pager, signaling someone from outside Earth. That someone was Captain Marvel, Marvel Comics’ most dynamic and entertaining super heroine who is finally brought to the big screen. Not only does “Captain Marvel” stand on its own as a great, fun movie about empowerment and learning how to conjure up your inner strength, it sets the platform for Captain Marvel charging in to “Endgame,” and it also sets up the foundation for phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Captain Marvel is an extraterrestrial Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her people and fugitive shape shifting aliens known as the Skrulls. Living on Earth in 1995, she keeps having recurring memories of another life as daring and heroic U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers. With help from special agent Nick Fury, Captain Marvel tries to uncover the secrets of her past while harnessing her special superpowers to end the war with the evil Skrulls. One of my absolute favorite elements of “Captain Marvel” is how writers and directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck sidestep the traditional origin story in favor of something more succinct.

The world that Carol Danvers belongs to includes Skrull aliens that can dig in to her memories and alter them, allowing the audience to understand her in brief but punctuated flashbacks. Danvers is a very well realized heroine whose morals and code of honor are crystal clear from the moment we meet her. When we begin our journey with her, she’s obviously someone being manipulated to work as a weapon, and “Captain Marvel” transforms in to a journey for Carol to slowly regain her memories as well as finding out where she came from which ultimately aides in her reclaiming her strength and sheer independence from outside forces.

“Captain Marvel” is not just a great superhero movie but also a story about toxic relationships and how tough and grueling it can be to break free from those that seem to be working for us, but really just are pushing everything in their own favor at our expense. Carol’s mission becomes mainly about realizing she’s been used as a pawn and works toward doing what’s right, as well as owning up to the fact that she isn’t a perfect hero. Even when the narrative comes to a close, Danvers is not a perfect hero, but her reclaiming of her power allows her to work hard at redemption. Directors Boden and Flenk bring aboard a stellar cast including Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, and Jude Law, all of whom (including “Goose”!) claim their spotlight with memorable performances.

Star Brie Larson is great in a role filled with layers of empathy, guilt, and someone struggling to break out from the lies she’s willfully believed for too long. “Captain Marvel” channels films like “Star Man,” and “Superman: The Movie” making Danvers the fish out of water who also comically struggles with culture shock. For the fans that loved the eighties overload in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the nineties kids get their turn with “Captain Marvel” which sets Danvers in 1995, where she is forced to deal with dial up internet, Radio Shack phones, and Alta Vista. Thankfully, like “Guardians,” the nostalgia isn’t forced, and is implemented wisely to move the narrative along. The music cues even act as compliments to key turning points in the film, and I loved every single minute.

“Captain Marvel” works as an origin, an establishing of the new MCU direction, and of course, her relationship with Nick Fury. The film explores their inadvertent partnership which revolves around Fury approaching Carol for the sake of finding out what the Skrulls are, and then stepping in to a bigger situation. This also seamlessly connects to so much of what we now know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe that it’s quite fantastic once everything draws to a close. “Captain Marvel” is a fun science fiction action film and a sleek introduction to one of Marvel’s banner superheroes, and I look forward to watching her usher in the next phase of the Cinematic Universe.