Captain Marvel

So Marvel Studios finally releases its first superhero film with a female solely in the lead role. A refreshing change of pace, but it’s hardly where the movie breaks new ground. 
The movie begins in 1995 on the planet capital of Hala in the Kree Empire. Those more familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe will remember the Kree as being the bad guys in “Guardians of the Galaxy”, so right from the start, there is an air of something sinister afoot. 
Vers – a.k.a. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), a member of the Kree Starforce, is suffering from amnesia. She is unable to recall anything from her past life save some confusing flashes appearing in the form of nightmares. Helping her deal with these issues is Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), her mentor in the Starforce who trains her, and The Supreme Intelligence (Annette Benning); an artificial intelligence who rules the Kree and appears to Vers in the form of a woman she supposedly knows, but can’t remember. Together they do their best to train Vers to control her emotions so that she can better suppress her power, which consists of fiery hands that can shoot energy blasts. 
The Kree are at war with a group of shape-shifting aliens known as Skrulls. While attempting an under-cover rescue mission. Vers is captured by the Skrulls and held on a spaceship that is bound for Earth after Vers’ mind is probed and the Skrulls discover what they are looking for is there. 
Vers manages to escape her confinement and destroy the ship. She is able to depart in a damaged escape pod, as do a few Skrulls including their leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). 
After Vers’ pod crashes through the roof of a Blockbuster Video (It’s been a while since that location was a place of relevance in a movie), it draws the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. A young, still two-eyed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and rookie Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) show up to investigate. Their skepticism at Vers’ story quickly dissipates after the Skrulls attack them, and she reveals her powers. 
When Fury brings the body of one of the Skrulls back to S.H.I.E.L.D. for their first alien autopsy, his Director (Talos in disguise) instructs him to track down Vers alone. Following a lead, Fury meets up with her. Piecing together some of her recovered memories, they find clues about her old life as Air Force pilot Carol Danvers and search for a former pilot friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) who can tell her about the day she lost her memory and who the woman is that appears to her as the Supreme Intelligence. 
This movie has been highly anticipated, and not just because the Captain Marvel character was alluded to being pivotal at the depressing end of “Infinity War”. Most of the anticipation centers on the fact that it’s a female-led superhero movie. 
While a female superhero/action franchise is rare, it is hardly new ground. Supergirl and Wonder Woman have already had iterations in TV series and movies (Some more successful than others). Angelina Jolie broke out as a female action star with “Tomb Raider”, Charlize Theron in “Atomic Blonde”, Jennifer Lawrence in “Red Sparrow” and Jennifer Garner in “Peppermint”. All portrayals of strong female characters, but Captain Marvel did one thing differently that had never been done in a mainstream action movie before. The Captain Marvel character was done without giving her any sexual overtones. 
No one would argue that Brie Larson isn’t an attractive woman, but if you were to compare it to Gal Gadot’s “Wonder Woman”, the differences are more than noticeable. Gadot looked drop-dead, head-turning gorgeous in every scene she was in; accentuated by every short-skirted, bare-legged, body hugging outfit she wore. Charlize Theron, and Jennifer Lawrence had the sexual element of their characters taken even further with full-on nude sex scenes. Captain Marvel is the complete opposite of all these trends. 
From the opening scene, Brie Larson is always completely covered, with nary a hint of cleavage, bare legs or any sort of exposed flesh other than the hands and head. The comic book version of the Captain Marvel character has two distinct looks, and they went with the far more conservative one: The short-hair/full bodysuit version, rather than the one-piece bathing suit/long, flowing blonde hair one. Another common element missing is that there is no character that the hero has any romantic interest in. This is something that has been pretty much a given in all super hero films (not just female led ones), but this film had none of it. 
So for me, this is what makes Captain Marvel so groundbreaking. It’s not that it shows a female as something other than a damsel in distress, because that has already been done. This movie shows, for the first time, that you can make a great super hero movie with a lead female character without having to make her an object of desire. And quite frankly, you don’t even realize that you’re missing it. 
Captain Marvel holds up pretty well when compared to others in its genre of Marvel movies, but feminist strides aside, it was lacking in a few areas that could have made the film go above and beyond. With Captain Marvel being a hero of such incredible strength and power, it seemed like a waste for her to spend so much of that film in a state of amnesia, unaware of her full abilities. 
Despite those short-comings, it’s still a very enjoyable movie to watch. Most of the credit for that goes to the casting and the great buddy-cop chemistry between Larson and Samuel L. Jackson. There are plenty of light-hearted moments to keep you entertained, and a scene that finally reveals how Nick Fury lost his eye that you should be expecting, but is still surprising (FYI, he loses it in one of the least bad-ass ways possible). 
I think where this film’s greatest selling point lies is in the fact that it has the broadest mass-appeal of any of the others in the MCU. The female lead will, of course, draw more of the gender that is typically less inclined to watch a super hero film. Plus, Captain Marvel is one of the rare MCU movies that does not require you to see any of the previous films to fully understand the story. 
Overall, Captain Marvel is many things. It’s a stand-out edition to the MCU. It’s a leap forward for feminists in Hollywood. It’s a pre-cursor to what’s sure to be one of the biggest cinematic events of the 21st Century in the form of “Avengers: Endgame”. Put that all together, and you’ve got a great movie, that could have been greater, but it wasn’t really necessary for it to be successful.

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