'Captain Marvel' Is a Good Old-Fashioned Origin Story With a Nostalgic '90s Twist Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg
Published Mar 06, 2019In a Marvel Cinematic Universe that has grown increasingly complex and interwoven, Captain Marvel succeeds by sticking to the basics. This is a good old-fashioned origin story, with all of the flashy action and feel-good humour a superhero movie should have.
Captain Marvel is part intergalactic sci-fi, part '90s nostalgia fest. The story begins on the planet Hala, where Vers (Brie Larson) is a warrior from the technologically advanced Kree civilization. She has superpowers that she's learning to control, with help from her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), and an amnestic backstory that she's piecing together from fragments of memories.
The Krees are fighting to stamp out a race of shape-shifting terrorists called Skrulls, and Vers' missions leads to her crash-landing on an alien planet called C-53.
C-53 turns out to be Earth circa 1995, where our hero smashes into a Blockbuster Video. This is the first of many cute and quirky relics from the time period: the soundtrack includes Garbage and Nirvana, characters use dial-up modems to make AltaVista searches, and Vers ends up wearing a NIN T-shirt with flannel tied around her waist. The first person she encounters on Earth is Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with a quick wit and no knowledge of aliens or superheroes.
Throw in an orange tabby cat named Goose, and Captain Marvel is cute as hell. But it's not all quirky nostalgia and snappy one-liners from Jackson — there's also a twist that's just the right amount of clever, which ties together Vers' backstory while also making an effective commentary on the way war makes us villainize our supposed enemies.
For any viewers deeply invested in the MCU, there's plenty of neat foreshadowing, particularly in regards to Nick Fury's founding of the "Avengers Initiative." But the real takeaway here is Larson's magnetic performance, as she captures the title character's self-discovery with genial warmth and bad-ass powers.
So whether you're looking for a prelude to Avengers: Endgame, or you simply want a fun popcorn flick, Captain Marvel is satisfying on all levels.