Captain Marvel (2019) – Film Review

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Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn
Certificate: 12A

by Roger Crow / @RogerCrow

Decades ago, the sight of Ms Marvel on comic book stands was as common as Hulk, Captain America and Spider-Man. But at the time the thought of making a movie based on such a fringe character was inconceivable. A shame, because in the 1970s, an era of big hair and (positively) blooming feminism, it would have been an ideal antidote to all the macho posturing of what few superhero movies there were.

As someone who’s been a Marvel fan since the seventies when I would crave any comic or related TV show I could find, the past few years have been a joy. And seeing Captain Marvel finally make it to the big screen in a delight, especially after the humdrum Black Panther from last spring. As acclaimed as that was, I was non-plussed, but the latest offering in the MCU puts the fun back into the ever expanding universe.

It helps that the filmmakers don’t give the audience an opening crawl to fill in all the blanks and set up the premise. It’s just a case of dropping them on an alien planet and telling them to keep up.

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“Arched eyebrow”

Brie Larson is perfectly cast as the eponymous heroine; ‘Vers’ and Carol Danvers, bringing the right amount of sex appeal, heroism and reducing the need for extraneous dialogue with an arched eyebrow or a wry smile. For a chunk of the movie it’s a double act with Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury. The fact this takes place in 1994, and features a perfectly pre-aged SLJ to slot in with the Pulp Fiction era is a sight to behold. Admittedly Clark Gregg’s pre-aged Agent Coulson is a little off-putting, but he doesn’t have as much screen time so it matters less.

The plot involves Vers (Larson), an alien warrior fighting in the Skrull-Kree wars, a conflict that’s long been part of Marvel history, and has been touched upon for the past few years in films such as Guardians of the Galaxy. And it’s that film this movie most resembles, especially as Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser pops up with another character from James Gunn’s sumblime blockbuster.

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“Vast array of heroes”

What’s glorious about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is how well all the threads from other movies tie together. I can only imagine the whiteboard at Marvel HQ that has the vast array of heroes and villains, and how they overlap and tie together.

Thrown into the mix here is Annette Bening as a military type; Jude Law as Vers’ colleague; Lashana Lynch as Danvers’ fellow pilot; Ben Mendelsohn as an apparent alien bad guy, and a cat called Goose, who all but steals the movie.

It’s fast, funny, touching and while it’s obviously the first major Marvel tentpole movie to feature a female lead (the less said about minor Marvel flop Elektra the better), it’s also one of their best offerings in years.

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“Sequel is only a matter of time”

It also boasts one of the best soundtracks of 2019, with a string of nostalgic cracking tunes by the likes of Garbage, Elastica and Hole.

With a billion dollars at the box office, a sequel is only a matter of time, though we only have to wait a matter of weeks to see Carol Danvers again in Avengers: Endgame, a three-hour blockbuster which should be the biggest hit of the year.

The acid test for any good movie: would I sit through Captain Marvel again within a day of watching? Absolutely.


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