The latest in the decade-old Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel is a direct lead-in to the hotly anticipated Avengers: Endgame, and is meant an introduction to a character that will likely play a leadership role in the franchise's future.
"Captain Marvel is acceptably entertaining", Stephanie Zacharek writes for TIME, later calling it "not awful". It is also an indicator that, fortunately for us, the most interesting parts of her journey are still ahead of her. When she first arrives on Earth, Vers's steely martial alienness clashes charmingly against the earthlings of 1994, but as soon as the Skrull hit the fan that whimsy disappears and is replaced by brutal efficiency. This duality keeps the memory-loss tropes to a minimum.
Larson's energy, at first, is powered by a precocious kid-sister vibe, disobeying the rules but charming her way out of trouble.
The film begins on Hala, the homeward of the noble Kree, a race of aliens that seems to have no real aesthetic uniformity.
Earthbound flashbacks to Carol at different ages suffering she's-not-good-enough failures and chauvinist-delivered indignities pay off in a "pick yourself up" montage that resembles a sluggish Nike commercial. This smarmy creep is definitely fun to watch, if only because Law plays the archetype so honestly. Those instincts serve them well in "Captain Marvel", which is less bombastic, more humane and easier to relate to than the other Marvel movies. Higher, further, faster, as the film's tagline goes.
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"There should be as much diversity in female superheroes as there is in our male superheroes". While all three of these people find themselves muted and hamstrung by the requirements of the Marvel machine, Captain Marvel does make a stellar argument for the three of them coming back together to make a thrilling neo-noir. Meanwhile, the Kree have their own style and aesthetic in the effects arena, one that's defined by blocky spaceships and color-changing military uniforms that set them apart from both the Skrulls and the humans at a glance. "There is no story arc for Captain Marvel because that would imply that women have problems". It's a refreshing return to the origin story formula that allows Carol to gleefully occupy the same spaces that the MCU has previously reserved exclusively for men. More jarring is that Fury's essentially the comic sidekick of "Captain Marvel", and Jackson seems happy to unwind and snuggle with the kitty-cat that wanders in and out of the movie. And what really sells this film is that playfulness. Carol is not a hero who relies on weapons or armor to make due - she's more than happy to charge into the thick of it with her hands tied behind her back if she has to. "It's been a couple of years of working on this movie", Larson said. Instead, it is a solidly constructed and engaging bit of scaffolding that, while fitting neatly within the overarching storyline of the Marvel movies, only occasionally reaches the Pop Art delirium of the best of those films.
Larson's performance and chemistry with Jackson is the obvious highlight in a strong supporting cast.
Larson has had big roles on TV shows in the past: she starred on Raising Dad and The United States of Tara, and later had a guest run on a season of Community, but that was well before her big Oscar win and her subsequent rise to stardom.
She's not alone in taking issue with the film's approach. Amnesiac Carol is largely happy in her new life until a botched mission brings the war between the Kree and their shape-shifting arch-enemies, the Skrull, to Earth in the mid-Nineties.
It is also a tale of female friendship, with black actress Lashana Lynch playing Danvers' best friend and fellow pilot Maria Rambeau. Her next assignment was at the Iraq desk in the Counterterrorism center.