Cast: Brie Larson, Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch.
Director: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
Marvel finally had the common sense to make a female-oriented superhero movie. Sure, Marvel has main female heroines like Black Widow, Gamora, and the Wasp, but they’ve never been the focus of those movies. After the major success of Black Panther (dir. Ryan Coogler) it’s safe to say the audience is craving more representation. In this case a superhero movie featuring Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel has easily made its way onto my list of top 5 movies. Before we dive into the why’s and how’s let me tell you the general plot lines of Captain Marvel.
Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) has trouble remembering who she is and where she’s from. All she knows is that she has powers which she has no control over. During a mission gone wrong Carol gets abducted by an advanced race that can shapeshift, called the Skrulls. They are a race at war with the Kree empire. The Skrulls are after an object that they believe Carol knows more about. They try to pry into her memories to find out more about a connection between Carol and a Dr. Wendy Lawson, but before they find any more information Carol escapes in a pod and crash-lands on earth. We meet the young S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) who investigate the crash. Skrulls, disguised as humans, land on earth not long after. A chase after this mysterious object ensues in which Fury and Danvers team up. Along the way Carol finds out more and more about her past, unlocking a great power within herself.
Now that we have a bit of a background, we can finally dive into what made this movie so marvellous. I’ll explore the themes and the message I got out of it, which I must imagine are very empowering to women all over the world.
The first theme I will address is emotion. Throughout the movie Carol has trouble keeping her emotions in check. This also means she can’t control her powers, because aren’t women all over the world taught that in order to be powerful you can’t express emotions? It was either control your powers or your powers are taken away. I was very wary that Marvel would execute this concept poorly; it’s the eternal cliché of women cannot handle their emotions and if they want to be in a powerful position, they need to control their emotions. How pleasantly surprised I was when Marvel successfully executed the theme. It showed that in the end these emotions have nothing to do with her power. Carol Danvers is a powerful woman first and foremost, a superhero second. She masters her powers and still has emotions she expresses freely and healthily. An impossible combination, you say? Captain Marvel is in theatres now, go see it and find out.
Next I will discuss the technical terms, you can’t have a real review without talking about the *white girl voice* cinematography. It wasn’t the best of all the Marvel films, but it was still pretty great and really added to the 90s setting. *cue to horror flashbacks of having a giant computer taking ages to load* The CGI was amazing. Seeing young Fury and Coulson in action on the big screen felt very nostalgic, especially after Avengers: Infinity War came out last year. I also very much appreciated the background information we now have on how the Avengers initiative started and how Fury lost his eye. Although I’m hoping that this isn’t Marvel’s way of paying an homage to Nick Fury.
In terms of acting, I’ve heard a lot of varying opinions on Larson’s performance. I will say that personally I had to get used to her style of acting. This in no way means that I thought her performance was bad, it was just different, which to be honest is to be expected, because she has to get used to her role as Carol and we have to get used to a new superhero. At the end I was satisfied with Brie’s performance of Carol Danvers, I don’t think anyone else could’ve done it better. Brie herself loves her character and what she stands for, I’m proud she now gets to be a role model for women of all ages around the globe.
On to the next theme: representation of minorities. It’s not a surprise that the positive reviews for this film are mostly from women. I’ve heard several women exclaiming: “Is this how men feel after watching a male superhero movie?” Well, the answer is no, I’ve asked them. But to us it felt so good to finally be represented. Personally, I felt appreciated, seen and represented. Men critiquing minority films is obviously a whole other issue that I’m not going to address now. But the point it that female superhero movies are a minority. Another reason why Captain Marvel has such a powerful effect: we women feel empowered, strong, but most importantly we feel represented. It’s not every day that we get to go to the theatres to enjoy a female lead in a superhero movie that is not only great in plot but teaches us to never give up. Carol’s powers may be superhuman strength & durability, flight and cool energy blasts shooting from her hands, but to me her super power is her strong will and endurance. After finding that the people she trusted betrayed her, after getting mocked for being a female Air Force pilot, after being treated as less just because she was a girl, she stood up. Time and time again, she never gives up. I absolutely love how her inner strength is what eventually unlocks her powers and makes her even more awesome. Brie Larson portrays Carol Danvers in her own way and supports what her character stands for, which makes her a good role model. In her speech at the Crystal Awards for Excellence in Film in 2018, she commented on how the film industry is gradually representing minorities in film, saying: “we are expanding to make films that better reflect the people that buy movie tickets.” I could not be prouder of someone representing such an important character. Well done, Brie Larson.
To squeeze my opinion in a nutshell: this movie was amazing. Technically: it isn’t the best but emotionally: it is the best. My favourite moment is when Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), who betrays Carol, realises he can’t take her on and challenges her to a good ol’ fist fight. Carol’s response is: “I have nothing to prove to you,” followed by an energy blast throwing him miles away. I think this is a very powerful message that we women must remember every day. We are women, we have emotions and we can be anything we want to be. I want to thank Brie Larson from the depths of my heart for being my personal heroine. As Thor said in the newly released Endgame trailer: “I like this one. [Carol Danvers]” Go see Captain Marvel if it’s still in the theatres or buy the DVD. It’s definitely worth watching as solo movie or if you’re a Marvel geek like me, it’s a must-see movie before Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame.