No matter how many superhero blockbusters Marvel and DC pump out, only a fraction of them will be socially significant, and even fewer will be considered good movies beyond that significance. “Black Panther” created a cultural phenomenon with its nearly all-black cast and socially sound plot, and since, audiences and fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have been awaiting the day when a strong female character would take up a leading role in one of the franchise’s films. While a “Black Widow” standalone film starring Scarlett Johansson is in the works, Brie Larson beat her to the punch with the release of “Captain Marvel,” who is considered to be the strongest Avenger in the series thus far.
Strong female leads, while more common, are still few and far between in the current Hollywood atmosphere, and Marvel was behind the curve after the success of DC’s “Wonder Woman,” which quickly became one of the highest grossing superhero movies of all time, only to be passed by “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and, from its own studio, “Aquaman.” Marvel’s push for a woman to save the day isn’t a new concept, but it’s a welcomed addition to the MCU, and Larson puts on an impressive show with an even more exciting display of real emotion.
Women are, too often, conditioned to force their emotions behind them for the sake of professionalism; character Carol Danvers (played by Larson), aka Captain Marvel, challenges that notion throughout the film and reminds the audience that emotional doesn’t mean incompetent, which is an important ode to young girls who see Danvers as a role model. Larson moves through the character with ease, combining her Oscar-winning emotional roots with tasteful humor to create the “marvel”-ous mixture that is the film’s main character. Samuel L. Jackson also makes a noteworthy performance as Nick Fury, with some tongue-in-cheek moments of commentary and the origin story behind the agent’s signature eye patch (hint: it’s way better than you think).
The real star of the show, besides Larson’s performance, was the special effects. The heroic powers of the Captain Marvel character are unlike other heroes, with proton blasts being her signature move. With this alien-esque energy flowing through her, it’s hard to imagine getting complete perfection on the screen when even the idea feels inconceivable. Luckily, Marvel pulled out their big guns with this production and created believable, impressive effects that propelled the story forward often and told the testament of their strength in a strictly visual manner. Even visuals that were not created, like most of the set design, were nostalgic and brought viewers back to the 90s (if they are old enough to remember the decade).
When considering Marvel’s history with creating stories and making films, it’s clear that the narratives are starting to look up towards relatability rather than heroism, and often, some combination of both. “Captain Marvel” may not be the best installation in the MCU, but it will be one that matters, and that achievement speaks for itself.