Captain Marvel crashes into the big screen with a flurry of explosions. The titular superheroine (Brie Larson) embodies the toughest bruiser imaginable as she fistfights, flies, and shoots her way through the stratosphere without so much as a glance over her shoulder to watch the carnage. This endless action ride pauses momentarily only for laughs and character development as new friends bond.
Sandwiched between two epic intergalactic films that tie the entire Marvel Universe together, Captain Marvel incorporates the first female lead in a Marvel film, focusing on the story of the origins of the superheroine. It weaves several different epic superhero stories together, throwing them into a universal battle of good vs. evil, ultimately deciding all their fates, as well as everyone in existence. The stakes are astronomical.
The film requires a healthy attention span along with plenty of focus. The element of being thrown into the 1990's could throw off devoted fans of the series. But in so doing, we discover that the infinity war may be connected to Captain Marvel's alter ego on Earth, Carol Danvers.
Being thrust into this infinity war is a lot for one woman to bear, no matter how heroic she may be. But Captain Marvel gets some early advice from her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) to keep her potentially dangerous emotions in check. The humans think differently, suggesting that these feelings are what make you a hero. There are plenty of opportunities for her to develop emotionally upon discovering that she may have led a significant life on Earth prior to becoming a fighter pilot for the Kree (alien good guys).
Captain Marvel contains cutting-edge special effects so realistic, it's hard to distinguish what's real from what's been altered. Of note are the younger visage of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) with both eyes intact, as well as a full head of hair, and a scene-stealing CGI alien/best friend/copilot/cat, aptly named Goose.
Captain Marvel struggles with two very tough cinematic challenges in addition to her numerous foes. First, this film falls between the two other major Avengers Infinity War movies. With so many new characters mandatory for her to befriend, it draws focus away from the story of her provenance. Second, Marvel sometimes dips into "Superman territory," where the protagonist is so invincible that the audience isn't emotionally invested because there's no way for the character to die.
To spice up the mix, writing and directing partners Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Sugar) bring their indie film brand of mixing comedy and emotion to a genre traditionally void of these things. Although it broadens its appeal to a wider audience, the frenetic action is non-stop. Adding the pop grunge soundtrack including: Nirvana, Garbage, and No Doubt is a sly trick to tie together 90's cultural themes in Captain Marvel's coming-of-age story.
Ultimately, with so many thrills, laughs, and terse combat scenes, the lack of any romance is a breath of fresh air. This fierce girl-power flick could be a stand-alone launch for the new Captain Marvel series, and it's an absolute must-see for fans of the Marvel Universe.