Captain Marvel is a character with a very long history in Marvel comics, first appearing in 1967 and being a mantle carried by numerous different characters throughout the decades. When Kevin Feige announced the Captain Marvel movie in 2014 it was no surprise at all that it would be the Carol Danvers version of the character. After all, at that time the comic was undergoing a very successful relaunch, people cheered when they heard Carol would be coming to the big screen. As Phase 3 went through some flux with Ant-Man and The Wasp being added and Inhumans being removed, Carol’s big screen debut shuffled around, but now it’s finally here and the wait has been worth it.
There are a lot of things in Captain Marvel that the trailers needed to hide, so to not spoil anything the best way to describe the movie is to compare it to Robocop; if you started that movie at the point when Murphy was already a cyborg. There’s a scene in Robocop where Murphy is going through his old house and remembering his past life, and a good portion of Carol’s story in this movie is like that. Many of the twists and revelations come when she finds out who she really is and how she got her powers.
Of course, while it has some dark humor, Robocop is pretty intense movie and this is a Marvel Studios film. So that means it needs some levity, and that comes from Samuel L. Jackson playing a younger Nick Fury who is suddenly thrust into that larger universe he invited Tony Stark into. The movie is really Carol’s and Nick’s once she arrives on Earth, and you’ll learn a lot about Nicholas J. Fury (including what the J. stands for) as well as see his early interactions with Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson.
On the alien side of things there’s the Kree, who we’ve seen before a few times in the MCU in the Guardians movies and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and at long last the Skrulls! I cannot stress how amazing the Skrulls are in this movie. Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos is so great, and a huge improvement and complete change from the comic original. He’s played many genre villains by now, from Star Wars to Ready Player One, but here he’s given perhaps his best yet. Much of the marketing focused on Jude Law’s Yon-Rogg, but Talos is the character people will remember long after the credits finish rolling.
Beyond their leader in the film, the Skrulls are delivered to the MCU in such a way that it’s made the long wait well worth it. They’re more than just evil shape-shifting aliens, and the way they’re handled here is a highlight of not just this movie but the entire MCU to this point. I can’t wait to see more of them in future movies or Disney+ shows.
And of course there’s the title character. Brie Larson brings to life the Carol Danvers of the comic, and this is completely the version of the character from the Kelly Sue DeConnick run on the book (and Kelly Sue has a cameo in the movie). There’s none of the “Ms. Marvel” baggage here, she’s pretty much the Carol as we’ve known her for the last few years in the comic, and Brie owns the part. Everyone fan-casted Captain Marvel for years before she was cast, but after seeing the movie it’s hard to picture anyone else as Carol Danvers in the MCU.
As it’s an origin movie people will obviously compare it to the previous Marvel origin films: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther. My personal favorite MCU origin has been The First Avenger, and I feel Captain Marvel is about on the same level as that. The two are also very similar; both are period pieces, both come at the end of their “Phases”, and both lead into an Avengers movie.
It’s not perfect, some will find the first twenty minutes a little slow if they don’t care about the Kree-Skrull war, but once Carol gets to Earth the movie really kicks into gear and doesn’t stop until the end. It also fleshes out the MCU in some new ways. Filling in little pieces of the past with some very interesting lore, one real big revelation at the end of the movie will send some YouTubers into fits of performance outrage, but that’s one of my favorite things in the movie. Thinking about it afterwards, it gives Carol eventually meeting the Avengers a whole different meaning. And since it’s a period piece set in the 90s, there are a lot of fun 90s references and the best Marvel soundtrack since the Guardians movies.
The movie also begins with an incredibly touching tribute to Stan Lee, and it’s done in a such a way that it’s something they can easily include with both Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home this year as well. I really hope Marvel considers using it to kick off those movies when they arrive in theaters over the next couple of months.
In the end, I think Captain Marvel is a Marvel origin on about the same level as Captain America: The First Avenger. It’s a cosmic adventure, almost Marvel’s Star Wars with the whole Kree-Skrull war angle, and it brings to life one of the most popular characters in the comics from the past decade. I can’t wait to see how Carol interacts with the Avengers and how her power is used to help stop Thanos.