Updated: Aug 24, 2019
By CAT GORDON
Captain Marvel, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, wildly exceeds expectations and lives up to its hype. While many Marvel fans have struggled to imagine the movie measuring up to Wonder Woman and dismissed it as left-wing propaganda, I can assure you that the directors did not sacrifice the plot in order to create the film’s subtle feminist message.
The year is 1995. The Kree, including Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) herself, are in the throes of war with the Skrulls, shapeshifters who have begun to “infiltrate” planet C-53, or as we know it Earth. Captain Marvel, or Vers as she is known on the planet Hala, embarks upon a journey of self-discovery without knowing what she’s in for.
Larson’s on-screen chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Nicholas Fury, made the script come alive in ways I never thought possible. The humor and unexpected friendship between Vers and Fury, especially in the scene where the two head to Pegasus to investigate Wendy Lawson, brings something to the table for Marvel virgins, who need not shy away from the film considering its prequel-likeness.
What’s more, the young actress Akira Akbar, who plays Monica Rambeau, perfectly embodies the particular strengths found in innocence. She performs her lines with so much
heart, and it gives the audience a real and raw image of this child who truly inspires the adults in her life.
The cinematography is otherworldly and makes the movie just as immersive as others by Marvel Studios. One remarkable scene in terms of visual effects was Vers’ last encounter with the Supreme Intelligence. No spoilers, but you’ll definitely know it when you see it.
While perfectly satisfactory, Captain Marvel’s cinematography pales in comparison to its phenomenal film score. The music, both the dramatic instrumentals and ‘90s throwbacks, gives the movie a uniqueness and authenticity rarely found in action movies. Pinar Toprak, the film’s composer, and the first female to score a Marvel movie, creates suspenseful rises and falls that juxtapose Vers’ bravery and vulnerability. She tells the story of a woman who begins to rely on her emotions and intuition despite being told again and again that this is a weakness.
And the directors do not slap us in the face with the fact that Vers is a powerful woman. Rather, she shows us that she is both powerful and a woman, and that one is not the source of the other. On Hala, there are no gender roles enforced, and this film simply normalizes that women kick ass—and that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
Something I wonder about, though, regarding the film’s message is whether or not it is meant to be pertinent to immigration controversy today. There is so much talk in Captain Marvel of war and being on the wrong side, and it begs the question: Is there allegorical context behind the science fiction landscape, or is the story meant to be taken at face value? Stories seldom are.
From the beautiful Stan Lee tribute to the hilarious post-credit clip of Goose the cat (or Flerken), Captain Marvel’s attention to detail is astonishing. The movie’s end is intriguing. And I wonder, Where will Captain Marvel be when next we run into her in Avengers: Endgame?