The Very Model of a Modern Marvel Major HeroMar 05, 2019
Directed by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Written by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Benning, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Lee Pace, Djimon Hounsou, Gemma Chan
*All photos courtesy of Marvel Studios
This is not your grandfather’s Captain Marvel, a Marvel character who has been around since the 1960s. The script by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck wisely streamlines the long and complicated origin story of Carol Danvers transition into the powerful superhero who, as the growing internet buzz assures us, will play a pivotal role in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.
Boden(Half Nelson, Billions) and Fleck(Half Nelson, It’s Kind of a Funny Story) also direct after having collaborated on a number of films and television shows dating back to the 2003 documentary short film, Have You Seen This Man?
Judging by the reaction to trailers and clips from the film, the hopes and expectations were that Boden and Fleck would merely deliver a competent appetizer for Endgame, scheduled for release in the final week of April. Instead, the duo has sucker-punched comic book movie fans with one of the best Marvel origin stories put on screen, proving once again that Kevin Feige is in his own way a marvel at pairing writers/directors with characters from the Marvel universe. Captain Marvel serves as much more than an hors d’oeuvre. It is a main course of a movie with all sorts of chewy, nutritional goodness to satisfy even the hungriest comic book fan.
We first meet Marvel (Brie Larson - Room, Community, Kong: Skull Island) as Vers, a Kree warrior being trained for action by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law – Sherlock Holmes, The Holiday, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald). The Kree are fighting a galactic war with the Skrulls, a race of shape-shifting invaders who pose as inhabitants of unsuspecting people on the planets they are attempting to conquer. But there’s more than meets the eye to Marvel. She has shattered pieces of memories that suggest she’s actually from earth. Back on earth is where she ends up when a rescue mission turns out to be an ambush.
Surprise. It’s not just earth. It’s earth in the 1990s, complete with Blockbuster videos and their 5-videos-for-5-nights for $9.99. VHS, of course. There she meets a much-younger Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson – Pulp Fiction, every Marvel movie ever made) and his brand-spanking-new sidekick, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg – Agents of Shield, a whole bunch of Marvel movies). It turns out that Vers is really Carol Danvers, a pilot for a secret project known as Pegasus and the film turns into a race to recover the rest of her memories along with a super-charged power source for a light-speed engine that could turn the tide in the Kree-Skrull conflict. What follows is a splendid mix of action sets and pitch-perfect I-Spy moments along with a handful of unexpected twists and turns that make this so much more than a simple origin story.
Larson initially comes off as strangely subdued in the lead role, with a wise-cracking side of her personality that seems out of place. But as she begins to piece together her memories, you realize that the subdued side of her personality exists because she’s trying to recover her true self. She’s much more than just another Kree warrior…and much more than human. Part of the fun of this journey is seeing her real character bloom as she discovers her true history and her real power. Samuel L. Jackson is himself, so you know Nick Fury is gonna be a ball of fun and one-liners. Perennial bad-guy Ben Mendelsohn (Ready Player One, Robin Hood) is pitch-perfect as the Skrull leader with an unexpected agenda. There’s also a fantastic subplot involving a cat that keeps showing up and stealing scenes. And then there’s the expectation of how Nick Fury ends up losing an eye, which plays out in nearly the same way as the timeline of how Crispin Glover loses his arm in Hot Tub Time Machine.
One final note. Yes, there are two stingers that you'll want to stick around for. The mid-credits stinger sticks the landing with a direct-connection between the end of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. The second is a virtual tie with the best Marvel post-credits stinger in history: the Captain America "patience" speech from Spider-Man: Homecoming. Here's the link to that stinger for your viewing pleasure:
"PATIENCE" by Captain America