By Suzanne Seyfi, Student Contributor
“Captain Marvel,” the twenty-first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first to star a woman, is a solid entry in the superhero canon. It stars Brie Larson in the title role, with supporting roles by Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Akira Akbar, and Annette Bening. “Captain Marvel” is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
The film opens on Veers (Brie Larson), a woman with no memories. She was given mysterious powers on the planet Hala, which she still struggles to control. This lack of memory is crucial to the film’s plot, but it does a disservice to the character and to the story.
Veers doesn’t know who she is, which means the audience doesn’t know either. (It is not much of a spoiler to reveal that Veers does eventually piece together enough of her past to learn she is Carol Danvers.) It is difficult to connect to a character who knows so little about herself.
However, the little that we can glean is remarkable. Veers/Carol is tough, decisive, and a hard worker. Her sense of humor is refreshing; she doesn’t have an oddly dry wit like so many of the Marvel heroes do. Instead, she laughs at herself, at the situations she finds herself in, and with her allies rather than at her enemies.
What makes Carol truly heroic is not her superpowers or her work ethic, though those traits certainly help. It is her grit and her drive. It is her determination to get back up no matter how many times she falls.
This is something one can learn from the trailers alone, but in the film it is breathtaking. The audience watches Carol struggle over and over: with her powers, with no memory, under enigmatic leadership, against sexism and suppression. She is constantly put down by authority figures and peers, but she always gets back up. This is why Carol Danvers is a hero, far more than her sparkle-fists.
Without spoiling anything, I want to briefly gush about Carol’s friendship with Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch). Maria is the absolute best, although I cannot detail why. I can state that their friendship is so wholesome and supportive that I wept with joy during a pivotal scene.
The nineties setting is a nostalgic throwback, but ultimately only has one thing to offer the story: a younger, less jaded Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson). It is a delight to discover that Agent Fury is capable of being surprised, of laughing, of – memorably – singing Motown. The audience sees seeds planted which will obviously grow into the stern Director Fury we admire.Side note: Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is in this film for four or five scenes, and yet it is still not enough.
Perhaps we will never get enough of Agent Coulson. Perhaps such a thing does not exist.“Captain Marvel” includes several callbacks to previous Marvel films, including “Iron Man” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Even her origin story fascinatingly parallels with Captain America’s own. Fortunately, with only two minor exceptions, this film works as a stand-alone. Rest assured, you do not need an encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel Universe to enjoy “Captain Marvel.” This film is now in theaters.