High-flying heroine

Meet Brie Larson's 'Captain Marvel'

The 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same. "Captain Marvel" introduces Marvel Studios' first headlining female hero, but her origin story doesn't diverge far from Marvel's successful "house style" of sci-fi MacGuffins. Watching this obscure hero give rise to another franchise-building, smash-hit movie will leave viewers marveling at Marvel once again.

For this film, Marvel enlisted top talent in front of and behind the camera. Indie stalwarts Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck ("Half Nelson," "Sugar") may be Marvel's unlikeliest directorial hires yet, but the savvy choice puts a woman behind the camera for "Captain Marvel" (a la DC's "Wonder Woman") and guarantees at least a certain amount of dramatic weight to a genre that can easily run away with action melodrama.

Oscar-winner Brie Larson ("Room," "Short Term 12") stars as Vers, a superpowered amnesiac inhabitant of the planet Hala and member of an elite military unit one might as well call Seal Team Kree. The Kree people are at war with the shape-shifting Skrulls, and when Vers literally falls to Earth, her visions of once being an Air Force test pilot there intensify. Is she Vers, or is she Carol Danvers? Or could she somehow be both? The identity crisis storyline crafted by Boden, Fleck and co-screenwriter Geneva Robertson-Dworet follows our hero as she discovers who she is and what she can do.

Because the story unfolds largely on 1995 Earth (a.k.a. "Planet C-53"), Boden and Fleck pepper the film with cheeky references (Vers lands in a Blockbuster Video, where she promptly photon-blasts the head off of an Arnold Schwarzenegger display and peruses a VHS copy of "The Right Stuff").

With top directors and a cast that includes Ben Mendelsohn, Oscar-winner Larson, Oscar-nominee Samuel L. Jackson and multiple Oscar-nominees Annette Bening, Jude Law and Djimon Hounsou, one wonders when Marvel will run out of prestige talent to throw at comic-book movies.

For now, we can be grateful that Boden and Fleck manage to inject some considered if corny thematic moments illustrating human resilience and suggesting at least one gender advantage on Carol Danvers' side (she's not beholden to foolish pride).

"Captain Marvel" also qualifies as an anti-war story that blurs the line between good guys and bad, while also slipping in a feminist smackdown here, a sly Trump rebuke there. At times, the formula can make the picture feel a little bland, and the humor tips over into cutesy when it comes to hero cat "Goose" (maybe Jude Law's Kree commander Yon-Rogg is right when he insists, "Humor is a distraction"). But the not-so-secret recipe still satisfies, while providing a sturdy origin launchpad for a new hero.

— Peter Canavese

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

What Would it Take to Get Tech Companies to Move Jobs Out of the Region and Is This a Good Idea?
By Steve Levy | 21 comments | 1,440 views

A Power Play
By Sherry Listgarten | 9 comments | 1,276 views

Palo Alto's Taverna to expand next door
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 1,187 views

College Match
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 940 views

Premarital and Couples: Valentine's Day: Annually or Daily?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 834 views


Best of Mountain View ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "Best Of Mountain View" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 27th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 19th issue of the Mountain View Voice.