By Priyanka Sarkhel (‘20)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced a new member to its crew of heroes, a glowing blaze of strength and valor, Captain Marvel.
Captain Marvel is a flashback to the ‘90s, complete with ‘90s music, Blockbuster, and internet cafes; a perfect mix of nostalgia.
The story of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) begins among the alien Kree civilization, and she is a part of an elite commando unit called Starforce under Yon-Rugg (Jude Law). She is funny, witty and powerful, but she is unsure of who or what she is because of a blank spaces in her memory. Despite this uncertainty, she knows that she is a fighter and that she is determined to prove herself to her fellow comrades.
Among the Kree, she is called Vers, not Carol, as she does not yet know her real name.
Yon-Rugg plays a significant role in Carol’s story. Law portrays the character as representative of the Kree species: righteous and manipulative. At every opportunity, he tries to convince Carol that her own, inexplicable power, not her Kree given one, is a weakness that makes her lesser of a Kree. Just like the rest of the aliens, Yon-Rugg is threatened by Carol’s capabilities if she were to fully embrace them, so he manipulates her in order to keep her subdued and restrained by saying things like “Control your power” and “What is given to you [Kree-given powers] can be taken away”.
In the middle of a mission with her commando unit, she is separated and stolen from her team by the Skrulls, a shape-shifting alien species led by a general named Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), that audiences assume are the antagonists of the story. The Kree and the Skrulls hate each other, so Danvers, having lived among the Kree for so long, automatically assume that she has been captured by the bad guys.
The scene with the Skrulls reveal Carol Danvers’ past memories out of order, but the audience can piece together that Vers is, in fact, a human from Earth.
She escapes with an impressive display of strength and power. Audiences get the first taste of how powerful Danvers really is. She ends up being launched into space, eventually crashing into a Blockbuster store on a strange planet called C-53, also known as Earth.
Here, we meet a two-eyed, younger version of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). In this film, Jackson appears as if he walked out of Pulp Fiction straight into 2019. CGI effects de-aged the actor so that he could portray Nick Fury’s character from 25 years ago as opposed to recent times.
Danvers teams up with Fury in buddy cop fashion to fight the shape-shifting Skrulls who have also crash landed on Earth.
Mendelsohn’s Talos, the Skrull general, deviates from the normal Marvel villain, who is expected to have a tragic past and a hardcore attitude. Instead, Talos adds a funny touch to the film while still maintaining an ultimate goal that adds to his character.
Talos and the cat, Goose, who Danvers and Fury meet unexpectedly but welcome wholeheartedly to their mission, are definitely show stealers in the film.
While the film itself followed the formula of a Phase One Marvel origin movie to the dot in terms of common elements in its plot, such as searching for the truth, and later, searching for redemption, it was, arguably, one of the most influential films for young audiences, specifically young girls, everywhere. The same can be said for Black Panther, which featured a mostly black cast as well as powerful black women.
It was refreshing to see a woman embark upon an origin story in the same way men have in the past, as well as express explicit anger and emotion in a way that defies the way women have always been told to restrain themselves.
Captain Marvel was released on International Women’s Day, a fitting release date for an empowering movie. Carol Danvers is central to the plot of the film, but not in any way that pushes any radical agenda, as many critics claimed it would. Rather, it portrayed an honest depiction of what it is like to live the female experience: constantly needing to prove herself in order to be given opportunity, being told to smile, being told to give up, to control herself or not to be “so emotional”.
Fellow women can watch this film and not feel alone. Moreover, fellow women and girls can watch this film and feel capable of anything and everything, no matter what anyone says.
In the days leading up to the film’s release, Captain Marvel received plenty of backlash (we all know why), with many claiming that it will be the “first flop of the MCU,” a ridiculous claim, considering no one bothers including The Incredible Hulk in the lineup of Marvel films.
Even after being barraged by trolls online leaving terrible reviews on “Rotten Tomatoes” before the movie even released, the multiple criticisms of leading actress Brie Larson on YouTube, and the low expectations of many, Captain Marvel struck gold at the box office. According to ign.com, the first female-led origin film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe reigned in $153 million in the United States and $302 million internationally for a grand total of $455 million worldwide. In fact, Captain Marvel ranks second highest for a Marvel movie in terms of worldwide box office debut, just behind Avengers: Infinity War, further debunking the belief that female-led films will not be as popular on a global scale.
All in all, Captain Marvel is a film that gives audiences a new perspective, not just in terms of gender, but in terms of film-style as well. It’s a fresh take on what Marvel’s audiences have known so far.
Carol Danvers’ story is definitely not something anyone wants to miss in the final days leading up to Avengers: Endgame.