With Endgame just around the corner, one key Marvel character has yet to be introduced- Carol Danvers. A very long and complicated comic book history including an alien who dies of cancer , a period in a coma when Rogue of the X-Men steals her powers, multiple identities and a long stint with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Carol Danvers FINALLY became Captain Marvel only recently in the comics, leaving her former moniker of Ms Marvel to be inherited by Kamala Khan. Carol Danvers is one of Marvel’s most high profile and important female characters and no matter what the comics are trying to do to her (Civil War II? Really?) the fact remains that a film with this awesome character is long overdue. The latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe does an excellent job streamlining the insane and convoluted backstory of the character into an accessible film and the result is a really fun time at the cinema that leaves you wanting more. And with Captain Marvel set to appear back on our screens in just over a month’s time, it’s great that her solo film has given audiences a taste of what Thanos will be feeling.
Quick side note: yes, the DC character you know as Shazam is technically also Captain Marvel. However when DC brought the rights to the character from Fawcett Comics in the early 70’s the word “Marvel” was copyrighted for obvious reasons so DC renamed his comic Shazam after the word used to summon Captain Marvel and kinda stuck with it for the character as a whole (although yes, the character is still called Captain Marvel officially). Also, Marvel’s Captain Mar-Vell is the guy who died of cancer, leaving the Captain Marvel moniker empty until Marvel finally decided to let Carol Danvers take on the name. In short, no one cares that the names are technically the same because they’re not so don’t try to create a rivalry between the films. Watch and enjoy both. Rant over.
Anyway, back to the film. Set predominantly between space and the 90’s (the precise date is 1995, five years before I was born. I’m not sure if that qualifies me now being old), Captain Marvel is different from other Marvel films by jumping immediately into the action. Our lead character is known simply as “Vers” and is searching for an identity whilst being a key part of the Kree army, a group of alien warriors locked in an endless war with the shapeshifting Skrulls. As the film goes on, the audience is given more and more information about her backstory all the while she searches for it within the film. Her search leads her to Earth and an unlikely ally in SHIELD agent Nick Fury as the chase is on to prevent the Skrull from getting the details on an important weapon that could be used to win the war. Oh, and there’s a cat.
The plot that develops is a lot different from that brief synopsis, but I don’t want to give too much away as it’s best to find out for yourself. This film has one of the best supporting casts of any Marvel film, whether it’s Samuel L Jackson (two eyed and de-aged) as a slightly more inexperienced and funny Nick Fury or the always awesome Ben Mendelsohn as the chief Skrull. It’s all anchored by Brie Larson as Carol Danvers bringing an equal amount of hilarious dry wit and serious material to the role. I cannot wait to see her interact with the other Marvel heroes. Thanos beware, as the Avengers are assembling once again. Did I mention how awesome Goose the cat is? It’s worth watching the film purely for the cat. Another returning character is Phil Coulson, who hasn’t actually appeared since the first Avengers and is still technically dead within the film continuity despite having a whole show dedicated to him. As a prequel it’s great seeing the pieces be put together for the MCU we’ve known in since 2008, and in future rewatches I’ll be watching this second after The First Avenger. Trust me, it’s the perfect film to watch before Iron Man. As I’ve mentioned before, the comic book timeline is extremely convoluted and involves multiple versions of the same character, and not’s even getting into the nightmarishingly complex Kree-Skrull war that is one of the backbones of the Marvel Universe. A casual audience member will be very confused by this mighty backstory but the film does an excellent job of explaining one of the largest and everlasting aspects of the comics into a nice easy manner through the opening scenes and the excellent portrayal of the Kree Supreme Intelligence and Ronan the Accuser making a nice cameo appearance. The Skrull are lifted straight from the comic books and I’m excited to see them in future films, as their shapeshifting powers are realised brilliantly and has infinite potential for other appearances. Secret Invasion maybe? That would be awesome.
Whilst the first act, mostly set in space, is a bit slow paced the film immediately picks up the pace as soon as Carol crash lands in a Blockbuster and begins a high pursuit chase on Earth with Nick Fury tagging behind. This is where the film delves more into how Carol became an alien warrior and delves into her background whilst she tries to remember her past. This is the film’s emotional core and it is very good, and as the film progresses she goes through a lot of introspection in the more character focused second half. Obviously some people will try and compare the film to Wonder Woman (because female superheroes MUST be compared to each other am I right?) but it really isn’t worth it. They both have female leads and are period pieces and that’s as far as it goes. They are two very different films and approach their plots very differently. So that’s all I will say on that issue. The standout action scene in Captain Marvel is the chase scene on Earth as Carol pursues a Skrull on rooftops and a train (seriously, what is it with comic book films and trains?) whilst Fury follows in a car. And yes, we do get to know how Fury lost his sight and ended up wearing the eyepatch. Like the other Marvel films, there is a rich colour pallet that makes it look so nice on an aesthetic level. Each film in the MCU look and feel completely different and I’m still blown away as to how connected they all are whilst maintaining a standalone narrative each and every time. Bring on Phase Four, where I expect Carol Danvers will be leading the new wave of Avengers.
Whilst I don’t want to discuss the film’s villain too much as it is a spoiler, all I will say is that they’re yet another sign that Marvel are getting better and better at villains. Every single one since Zemo has been great, with the best being Vulture, Killmonger and Thanos. The connections to the wider Marvel universe are very prominent but still in the background to the main story and it’s great spotting all the easter eggs and references to the wider universe. The explanation as to why Carol has not been in the other films is also immensely satisfying and so simple yet perfect. The Infinity War teaser is now even better and as par the course there are multiple teasers in this film. The first one is just amazing, the second is more of a joke but still very fun. And for anyone wondering how the films would approach Stan Lee’s death well, let’s just say that the tribute at the start of Captain Marvel is pitch perfect and got a huge round of applause at my screening. His cameo is also very fun, but that’s expected by now. Interestingly enough he did not create Carol Danvers- Roy Thomas, who is also responsible for Iron Fist, Ultron and many others- did, making Carol the most high profile hero in the MCU not created by or having heavy influence by Stan Lee. The original Mar-Vell was a Stan Lee creation though.
In conclusion, whilst Captain Marvel isn’t my absolute favourite Marvel film or even in my top tier, it’s still a great comic book film that honours the character’s long, weird history. As a warm-up to Endgame it’s honestly a better lead in than Black Panther was for Infinity War (did you know T’Challa only has 4 minutes of screen time in that film? Yeah, Marvel did not see the success of Black Panther coming) as it’s clear Carol Danvers is getting a huge role to play in defeating Thanos. It’s also more fun and a better film than Ant-Man and the Wasp, although I still really enjoy that one (seriously, even a lower tier Marvel film is entertaining). Be sure to check Captain Marvel out for a hint as to what the future of the MCU has in store. As for what I want to see in future Captain Marvel films? More Skrulls, more Goose, a focus on outer space and Kamala Khan. Let’s see what happens.