It’s a hard thing to review Marvel Studios movies when you don’t want to give anything away but to preserve the mystery of what’s coming, that’s what I’m going to do.
I will say this: Make sure you go see this movie early because between the plot and the mid- and after-credits scenes, there are a lot of spoilers that are going to be out there. That said, let’s dive in.
As you likely know, Captain Marvel is set in the 1990s and tells the story of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), a woman who is part of a fighting force of Kree and doesn’t remember her past on Earth. When she crashes, literally, back down to Earth, she’s met by a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Carol and Nick try to prevent an invasion of the planet by the Skrull, led by their commander, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). You might also know about the cat named Goose in the film. (In the comics, he’s named Chewie, short for Chewbacca. You’ll understand why she wouldn’t have named him that in the film, despite the fact that Disney owns both Marvel and Star Wars, I promise.)
Goose absolutely steals the show here. Every orange cat adopted from March 8 forward is going to be named Goose, and this is only an indication that all is right with the world. You’ve probably seen the video of Nick Fury gushing over Goose, and it is the purest thing on the Internet right now. That is all I’m saying because of spoilers.
From seeing the trailers, I was concerned that Brie Larson’s performance was going to be so low-key that it wouldn’t be inspiring. The trailers do absolutely nothing for this movie (outside of that cat moment). Please go in knowing that, especially if you’ve been underwhelmed by them. Larson is a riot, and her banter with Jackson is one of the highlights of the film. It’s a rare performer that can get pathos and humor in the right combination, but Larson excels at it. (This could be why she’s got an Oscar.) She is, by turn, all of us, then the cool woman we want to be, then beyond aspirational in her desire to never give up. She’s a badass, then the most human of everyone there. She is perfect as Carol, and the character is never once sexualized. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
What is left to say about Nick Fury after all of these movies? Surprisingly, he’s even cooler now. Jackson does a great job of giving us all of Fury’s attitude, but a little less bitter and a little less jaded. He’s a younger, bouncier version of the character we know and love, and guys, the de-aging done on him is a freaking revelation on the tech side. You’ll completely forget that this isn’t how Samuel L. Jackson looked in 2019. I actually looked up a current pic of him after the screening, and it was jarring. The work done on Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is a little less impressive but still pretty mind-blowing. In fact, the effects in this movie are exactly right. They’re bombastic when they need to be and subtle when that’s called for. The makeup work is also pretty fantastic.
One of the things that this movie does particularly well is give us a Marvel villain with depth. Sure, they’ve managed that quite handily with the Netflix TV Marvel villains and with Thanos, but other villains in the MCU haven’t faired that well. I don’t want to say more here, but Ben Mendelsohn’s casting as the Skrull Talos is absolutely perfect and exactly what was needed in the MCU. (I would also like to mention that when I got an opportunity to visit the set of the film, Mendelsohn kept saying, “We be Skrullin’,” and it was possibly the most adorable thing I’ve seen since Goose.)
Okay, so is there a fly in the ointment? Honestly, not really. There were a few moments that felt a little silly or stilted, but they felt like a ‘90s movie, which is exactly what we’re seeing. Speaking of which, the soundtrack is spot on, and the costuming might help the grunge look along in its comeback. Not upset about that at all.
I’m sure you’ve all heard that before the movie is out, there have been people trolling it on Rotten Tomatoes. Whiny babies are upset that there is a female superhero leading a Marvel film. (Shall we count how many movies it took to get to this place, babies?) Yeah, well, too damn bad. This film is not only the ultimate girl power film, but it’s going to be inspiring for all genders. The focus is on getting back up and dusting yourself off after being pushed down, as well as friendship. The relationship between Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and Carol Danvers is beautiful to watch and something missing from a lot of films. We rarely see female friendships in the superhero world outside of Jessica Jones. Female friendships are so often overlooked in non-rom-com films, and even there, it’s often superficial and focused on a love story for one of them. Look, I’m certainly not anti-love story, but it’s so nice to see other important relationships focused on.
Again, please go see this before you get spoiled. There are twists and turns, and the credits scenes reveal a lot. In addition, the opening credits do something really lovely. You’re going to leave the film yelling, “Higher, Further, Faster,” and you’re going to want to bring your daughters. Bring your kids of all genders because, in Carol Danvers, we have a superhero that inspires.
CAPTAIN MARVEL REVIEW RATING: 9/10
Captain Marvel opens in theaters on March 8. You can check out all the previous updates about the anticipated movie by clicking here.
Jenna Busch has written and spoken about movies, TV, video games, and comics all over the Internet for over 15 years, co-hosted a series with Stan Lee, appeared on multiple episodes of “Tabletop,” written comic books, and is a contributing author for the 13 books in the “PsychGeeks” series including “Star Wars Psychology.” She founded the site Legion of Leia and hosted the “Legion” podcast.