“Captain Marvel” is Marvel’s answer to DC’s “Wonder Woman” and both feature tough women with mysterious backgrounds, fighting in a world they are unfamiliar with and in boots that are definitely made for walking. Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is thrillingly tough and intelligent in a story co-written by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck who also co-direct with Geneva Robertson-Dworet (“Tomb Raider”).
The movie begins (after a brief montage and “Thank you Stan” flashes on the screen) with a smoking disaster area in a desert-like environment, a battle or crash has left flaming wreckage and a woman bewildered. She wakes up to look out a window on to a futuristic world. This isn’t earth, but Hala, a planet that we are told is the capital of the Kree, predominately a blue-skinned race (that uncomfortably sounds like another colored nation–the Cree First Nation group).
The woman, Vers, we’ll come to know as Carol Danvers is training with Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), the commander of Starforce and Danver’s mentor. He tells her “humor is a distraction” and that emotion is her enemy as a warrior, but there’s plenty of humor packed into this movie. Danvers has been given special powers which seem to flow from a disc placed on her neck behind one ear. Danvers doesn’t quite know who she is and where she’s from. Her past has been lost, but remains tantalizing close and half-realized and revealed in unreliable dreams.
Yon-Rogg takes her to consult with the Supreme Intelligence, an artificial intelligence which is the collective embodiment of the greatest minds of the Kree people and a one-step both counsel and supreme ruler of the Kree. SI appears to each person as the being they most admire and for Danvers, SI appears as an older woman (Annette Being) she can’t identify.
Yon-Rogg is sure Danvers is ready for a mission on another planet. As the Kree attempt to prevent the shape-shifting Skrull invasion, they’ve sent infiltrators to different planets and populations. Now, they need to extract one of their spies, but the mission quickly goes wrong, separating Danvers from the rest of her Starforce crew which includes Korath (Djimon Hounsou) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan).
Captured by the Skrull, Danvers wakes up to find them probing and stirring up her lost memories. She escapes, but only to crash on to a planet known to her as C-53 where she crashes down leaving a hole in the roof of a small one-story strip mall Blockbusters store. Pausing only to check out “The Right Stuff” and before a poster of “True Lies,” she finds the local security guy and asks for “communications equipment.” He points to another mall store: Radio Shack.
The planet C-53 is, according to Minn-Erva, “a shit hole.” The Starforce secretly change course, with Yon-Rogg claiming that Danvers is lost (to Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser) and hope to pick up Danvers. Before they can, this woman who is “dressed for laser tag,” finds herself accosted by both Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Colson (Phil Coulson). Both are skeptical about her story of Krees and Skrulls. She’s also pursued by the Skrull. When one shoots at her, she chases after it when it hops a metro train and Nick Fury pursues them both by car, but finds that the man he believes to be Colson, is actually a Skrull.
Both Fury and Danvers learn they can’t trust anyone, even little old ladies. Eventually, Danvers will learn of a NASA-USAF joint project deep in the deserts of California that resulted in a 1989 crash. The woman whose image she sees to give form to the SI died in that crash and Danvers was the pilot. She’ll meet up with an old friend, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), a fellow AF pilot who has left the Air Force and moved to Louisiana as well as an old foe, Skrull Palos (Ben Mendelsohn). Six years have passed since the crash and only Danvers can decipher the mystery of the crash and the cat named Goose.
Both Gregg and Jackson are digitally “de-aged” to play their younger selves. Of course, we’ll learn a lot of things such as how Fury got his eye patch and how dangerous a cat named Goose can be (Originally, Carol Danvers’ cat was named Chewie, but the directors Boden and Fleck wanted to make an Air Force “Top Gun” reference.)
Although Larson is allergic to cats, the directors came up with a three-way solution. Goose is played by 12-year-old Reggie, three backup cats–Archie, Gonzo and Rizzo–and a computer-generated cat and a cat puppet. Stan Lee appears in a brief cameo, as can be expected, despite his recent death. Be sure to stay for the two scenes in the credits which will tie in Captain Marvel’s origin story with a previous and the upcoming Avengers’ movies.
“Captain Marvel” opens 8 March 2019.