That’s the promise from Captain Marvel, which as the first Marvel movie with a sole female lead and a female co-director, has the weight of impossible expectations on its formidable shoulders.
On the one hand, that the Marvel Cinematic Universe powers-that-be waited 11 years and until its 21st movie to do so is, well, silly. And DC kind of beat them to the forceful punch with Wonder Woman.
But, happily, Captain Marvel is a blast and Brie Larson kicks total arse.
Captain Marvel is a celebratory, fun and highly entertaining superhero romp that delivers on that promise — and there is at least one great twist that you won’t see coming if you’re not familiar with the comics it’s based on.
As the most powerful hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel really is faster and stronger, and she can go much, much further — at least once the full might of her fearsome powers are unleashed.
This movie will tie directly into the upcoming Avengers: Endgame sequel, and the flip side of having such a powerful hero is you have to wonder what real stakes are there in the MCU now that Captain Marvel can demolish purple baddie Thanos with her pinky?
An origin story in reverse, Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers/Vers starts the film as a member of the alien race Kree’s Starforce fleet, an intergalactic special forces group.
Working under her commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), she’s been trained in the Kree discipline of never letting your emotions get the better of you in a fight.
Of course, that the story should focus so much on whether emotions are an asset or a handicap speaks to the movie’s female soul — emotions being traditionally seen as “belonging” to women.
When the enemy Skrulls, a race of shapeshifting aliens that can take the form of any being they’ve seen, capture her, they fire up her memory bank in search of what she knows, but don’t know she knows.
Carol has no memory of anything that happened to her before the previous six years and only has flashes of a former life — a life on Earth as a human Air Force pilot before she gained her powers in a jet accident.
The memories come flooding back when she and a Skrulls team led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn who retains his Australian accent) crash on Earth after a space scuffle.
The year is 1995, and she crashes into a Los Angeles Blockbuster and is almost assaulted by a cardboard cut-out of Jamie Lee Curtis from True Lies.
Here, the movie reveals what is the MCU’s best pairing to date — Captain Marvel and a 25 years younger Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, digitally de-aged and with both eyes).
Larson and Fury, who have a 41-year age gap, have a sparkling and easygoing chemistry. At times, Captain Marvel feels like a charming buddy cop movie of unlikely partners. They are an absolute delight to watch.
We also get the Nick Fury backstory that the MCU has mostly kept to itself until now.
While Captain Marvel was a little slow to start, once Carol and Fury are thrown together, it is full throttle as they seek to save the Earth from alien invasion and discover the secrets of her past — which, unsurprisingly, holds the key to what happens next.
Larson, an Oscar winner for her role in Room, is the perfect person for this role, a great balance of emotional weight and fierce energy. She also has a physicality that makes her imposing on screen — you believe she’s landing those punches.
The action sequences — many of which are in space — are deftly if not spectacularly handled by directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. There’s one particular flight sequence that almost makes you feel the G-Force.
And we are still at the point where the visuals of such a powerful female hero are rare enough that its sheer existence makes you giddy.
Captain Marvel will be to ’90s kids what Guardians of the Galaxy was to Gen X-ers.
The ’90s setting of the story gives it ample opportunities to cram it full of references from that era, including slow internet, Game Boys, The Right Stuff, Mallrats and grunge fashion (“You look like someone’s disaffected niece”).
It also has a killer soundtrack, headlined by Garbage, Hole and No Doubt, whose three female lead singers were every bit as unapologetic about who they are as Captain Marvel is.
Throw in some Desiree, TLC, Nirvana and REM, and you know you’re going to find yourself in a ’90s spiral for weeks to come.
Ultimately, this is a story about empowerment and self-confidence, of finding your power and not let anyone else control it for you.
Captain Marvel can be heavy-handed in its approach, but then you have to think about who will benefit the most from this movie — young kids, especially young girls.
Captain Marvel may be more text than subtext, but if young girls can grow up identifying with this insanely powerful female hero, then how can anyone really argue with that?
Captain Marvel is in cinemas from Thursday, March 7.
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