Since the release of Civil War the MCU films that have been coming out have felt like they’ve been moving away from the traditional formulas that the franchise was built on. Instead they’ve been branching out into other genres. Their new release, Captain Marvel, feels more like a throwback to the early 2010s in terms of tone.
Following the origin story of Carol Danvers, aka Vers, a Kree warrior with a past connected to earth, this is one of the first true origin stories that Marvel have told since Doctor Strange back in 2016, which was a forgettable rehash of the original Iron Man. Whether your on board with Captain Marvel probably depends how much you liked and don’t mind revisiting that era of MCU films. It certainly isn’t breaking any new ground, but it’s a fun and enjoyable time at the cinema packed with heart and humour, led by the superb Brie Larson.
The film throws us back in time about 25 years to 1995 during a war between the Kree and the Shapeshifting Skrulls. Here we not only see Danvers’ coming into her own as hero, but we get to see some of the earlier years of S.H.I.E.L.D., including a young Nick Fury and rookie Phil Coulson. This was easily one of my favourite aspects of the film, seeing Samuel L. Jackson get to bring a much younger Fury to the screen is great, and his chemistry with Larson superb. Not only is Fury Danvers’ bridge to the human world, and discovering his mysterious past, but Danvers is the one who really opens Fury’s eyes to the superhero world, and makes him become the man who founds the Avengers initiative.
Three other key supporting figures in Captain Marvel are Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, an old friend of Danvers, Jude Law as Yon-Rogg, Danvers’ mentor in the Kree, and Ben Mendelsohn as Talos the leader of the Skrulls who come to Earth. Lynch is great, she’s not appeared in a huge amount of film projects, but after holding her own with acting talent like Larson and Jackson there’s no doubt she is someone to watch. Law is charming and fine in the film, without ever blowing anyone away. But it is Mendelsohn who may just be the highlight. He has made a habit of playing a scenery chewing villain, but he is so much more than that as Talos, bring huge pathos and emotion to the role.
There are also a couple of former faces from the MCU that pop up again. Djimon Hounsou’s Korath and Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser both appeared in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Captain Marvel takes advantage of its setting in the past in order to spend some more time with some of these older characters who didn’t necessarily get their due, particularly Ronan. This all adds up to a lot of inside nods to previous MCU stories, stretching far back into Phase 1, over ten years ago, for the in references. It is clear at this point that Marvel is really paying off long term and hardcore fans.
Captain Marvel isn’t going to blow anyone away or really break any new ground, but it will certainly entertain fans of the MCU. Brie Larson is a joy in the titular role, and I cannot wait to see her interacting with the wider Marvel universe in Avengers: Endgame. It’s a fun ride, that is very reminiscent of the older MCU films, which is a welcome breath of fresh air before Endgame inevitably destroys us.