Synopsis: Captain Marvel soldiers around the universe while trying to recover her memory.
Let’s begin this Captain Marvel review with a little something for everyone: riddles! Here goes… What has five eyes, but cannot see? Hmm… an Opabinia regalis afflicted with advanced cataracts? Sorry, since the sea dwelling little arthropod has been extinct for millenia, one cannot know if their simple photoreceptor eyes could develop cataracts. No, the answer is the Mississippi River.
Here’s another riddle… A father and son are in a horrible accident that kills the dad. The boy is rushed to the hospital and into surgery. Seeing the patient, the surgeon says, “I can’t operate — this is my son!” Uhh… the surgeon sperm donor recognizes the same dragon-shaped birth mark that he has, on the kid’s face as well? No! The surgeon is the boy’s mother.
The riddle is an interesting little window into gender bias. Today nearly half of US medical school graduates, and approximately a third of surgeons, are women. But many people have difficulty guessing the answer. The image of the male surgeon persists; perhaps owing to surgery being the macho medical specialty what with all the strategic knifing, cutting and bone sawing.
Aviation is another field typically dominated by men, with fighter pilots at the macho apex. In 2005, 4% of U.S. Air Force pilots were women; so any female AF pilots in the late 1980’s would’ve been real pioneers. You won’t find this on Wikipedia, but one of these pioneers was the all-business-until-it’s-time-for-fun Carol Danvers. Carol had a top gun swagger, a real girl squad going on base and looked super cool in Aviator shades. Or did she? Because these are the flashbacks (?) that a Starforce Kree soldier on the planet Hala named Vers keeps having when she is fight training with Jude Law, uh… “Yon-Rogg.” I KNOW, Jude couldn’t look less like a Yon-Rogg!
Jude keeps cautioning her to control her emotions. So does Annette Bening who shows up as some sort of holographic mentor. I don’t know why they keep telling her to chill, because instead of calmly kickboxing her opponents, she could easily blast them with her photon-shooting fists and win any fight. You see, when she gets mad, her super hero power emerges. Fortunately, when she gets angry, she does not turn green like that MCU dude, the Incredible Hulk.
It is no surprise that Carol the human pilot is also Vers the Kree soldier and Captain Marvel. They are also all Brie Larson. You are probably better off if you haven’t seen all of the other MCU movies because otherwise you will feel obligated to remember all of
the minutiae about Nick Fury’s bad eye, Lee Pace in black & blue face paint as Ronan and that infernal Tesseract that every Marvel movie keeps insisting is all powerful and/or magically unknowable. Just remember Carol = Vers = Captain Marvel.
The movie will lead you through 1990s nostalgia in LA, which is where our hero hopes to find herself and do her Starforce job after she ends up crashing through the roof of a Blockbuster Video. (This is before all the brick and mortar businesses went belly-up– haha!) Captain Marvel had been chasing lizard people called Skrulls who are enemies of her Kree people. Skrulls can shape shift into humans so we can all be confused all the time and not know who anybody is. Their leader is a baddie named Talos who speaks with a pronounced Australian accent.
I kept expecting him to abandon his pursuit of Captain Marvel so he could run off and do Australian things like surf among the Great White sharks, pound pints of Fosters or play the didgeridoo.
In between fights and chases, Captain Marvel interacts with weirdly de-aged agents Nick Fury and Coulson. She also takes time to acquaint herself with Nirvana and grunge anti-fashion. Respect for the flannel and NIN t-shirt.
Captain Marvel & Nick Fury buddy-up to sort out the good aliens from the bad aliens. They road trip to Louisiana, in hopes that a member of Carol Danvers’ former girl squad can provide clues to the past, long before Jude Law made The Talented Mr Ripley, or Annette Bening was in Bugsy, or Samuel L Jackson was in Diehard with a Vengeance.
Brie Larson is such a good actress, looking tough in fights and delivering quips with a cheeky grin. I read that she trained for months, deadlifting concrete pylons and kicking SUVs out of her way.
Samuel L. Jackson has the easier job: getting digital Botox and pet-sitting a very handsome ginger cat named Goose. Kitty’s name is a nod to that amazingly authentic and not at all laughable movie Top Gun. Goose, like all cats, is enigmatic and does whatever he wants.
Watching Captain Marvel powering around in the 90s made me wish that instead of her crashing into a Blockbuster in LA in 1995, she had landed at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1991 during a symposium for U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviation officers. Several men and dozens of women hotel guests were reportedly sexually harassed by numerous attendees, which became known as the Tailhook scandal. I wished it because sometimes, when you can’t appeal to a person’s sense of decency, it would be nice if you could at least fling them into the next zip code.
Cut to the Chase: One of the better MCU flicks
Comedy Highlight: Captain Marvel and Nick Fury’s banter