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Mike Catto's Weekly Review

Captain Marvel

Since Bill Parker and CC Beck created Captain Marvel in 1939 for Fawcett Comics, the character has passed through many transformations; the copyright has changed hands nearly as many times, so that now we have the original red Spandex’d male Captain, renamed SHAZAM ! (after his alter-ego changing magic word) with DC owning it. A film of that name will be out very soon.

I almost pity the writers of this film in trying to make sense of all the other Marvel Captains.

The new female Captain Marvel (although she is never called that throughout the film nor in the post-credit teaser) is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I almost pity the writers of this film in trying to make sense of all the other Marvel Captains from the 1980s onwards and finding a way of slotting them into this new hybrid MCU offering.

Long story short. A female Star Force warrior, Vers, is part of the fight by the alien (but noble) Kree civilisation against the alien (but reptilian looking and thus not noble) Skrull, who are shape shifters, which is sneaky but handy. Followers of the Marvel TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D will have met the Skrull before. Vers (Brie Larson) suffers from that cinematic standby, amnesia with bouts of flashbacks about another world and previous job. Suddenly transported to Planet c-53 (Earth) she lands on and through a Blockbuster video store back in the year 1995. Cue lots of gags about 1995. She meets Nick Fury – Samuel Jackson, and Agent Coulson - Gregg Clark, both actors having been slightly CGI’d to ‘de-age’ them to their 1995 selves. Keep up at the back there!

Gradually Vers finds out that she was once a USAF/NASA test pilot called Carol Danvers who had crashed while flying a top scientist, Lawson (Annette Bening) whom Vers/Danvers remembers as the Supreme Intelligence/Mar-Vell back on the Kree planet. Bit by bit she learns more about herself, and her special powers start to develop. Didn’t I write about an amnesiac super-strong female warrior in Alita: Battle Angel recently??

The film is entertainingly OK.

It’s all very explanation heavy, but thankfully, being Marvel, there are lighter and funnier moments as well as the mandatory chases, big explosions, stand-offs, that pesky Tesseract etc. The first hour is not merely complex, it’s overly complicated, but it eventually settles down. There are even affecting moments when Danvers tracks down her former pilot buddy Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and her daughter, and discovers more about her human self.

Yet somehow the parts don’t cohere into a truly satisfying whole. Too many ‘are they good or are they bad?’ characters. For example, is the casting of Ben Mendelsohn yet again as a villain obvious or actually clever? But then, this is not just an origin story for the Captain herself, it turns out to be the origin story of why Nick Fury came up with the need for a bunch of Avengers back in 1995. And that’s confirmed with the teaser for next month’s Avengers:Endgame.

Brie Larson is really very good in the main role (contrary to what fan-boys have trolled); the film is entertainingly OK (nothing more)…but the ginger cat is wonderful.

About this Blog

The Arts Show’s resident film buff, Mike Catto is a seasoned film critic, educator, and historian. One day the film of Mike Catto’s life will be made, but we haven’t found the actor to play him yet.


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