Despite warnings from our mothers, many trolls and even critics are judging Captain Marvel by its cover. With admittingly worrisome and mediocre trailers, plus early trolling online, Captain Marvel had garnered skepticism ahead of its release on Friday. Rotten Tomatoes even changed its trolling policy ahead of the film’s opening. It’s unclear how this film will do overall at the box office and unfortunately, that matters for the future of female superhero films.
Luckily, directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (the latter of which is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first female director) are seasoned indie directors with most of their past films focusing on character development. This is where the film shines. You understand who Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers/Vers is, a resident on the planet Hala with mysterious connections to Earth who has to save it from the evil shapeshifting Skrulls. Once there, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is joined by a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who leads her around 90’s California looking for answers.
Larson clearly gets the nuances of the character, her performance layered, unusual for a superhero. Every smirk, every eye movement seems to be calculated, adding to the sarcastic, yet caring and determined persona of the titular character. Samuel L. Jackson returns to the MCU in his most delightful role yet. As a young Nick Fury, Jackson sheds the serious authority and graveness of his previous renditions of the character and is at his best with Goose the cat, an airforce base stray.
The CGI in this film, specifically the technology that wipes away Samuel L Jackson’s and Clark Gregg’s age, is integrated seamlessly to the film. This technology, identified by Jackson in multiple interviews as LOLA, has been perfected beyond similar technology used in Rogue One and in Captain America: Civil War. Whereas, in the previously mentioned films, the use of the technology made a character’s skin seem rubbery and was obvious that CGI had been used.
When you have the first female Marvel film, directed by Marvel’s first female director, the film is going to be associated with feminism and girl power. And there is a lot of it in there. What’s really important is that the audience is on the side of the protagonist and Larson and Boden do a great job telling the story of a white woman who discovers the power of her privilege and uses it to help free marginalized peoples from the oppression she may have caused.
Girl Power is supported by a killer soundtrack, consisting mainly of girl-centric bands of the ’90s. Hole, Garbage, TLC, all make appearances, but none more apropos than No Doubt’s “I’m Just a Girl” blasting over a fight scene, as Carol kicks and spins her way into badassery. The music, combined with the 90’s setting adds to Larson’s performance, making every kick and punch more powerful.
Earlier this week, Brie Larson posted a picture of herself at the film’s London premiere. She’s bent down, signing an autograph for a little girl who’s beaming next to her. The caption reads, “I did it for you, superstar.” It’s not about whether or not this movie will appease everyone or if the movie is a cinematic masterpiece. It’s not for fanboys or even critics. It’s so that girls see their future selves on screen, not as wives or girlfriends, but as powerful women changing the world for the better.
Final Grade: B+