”Captain Marvel“ hit theaters March 8 and is a watershed moment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (commonly referred to as the “MCU”). Starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, “Captain Marvel” owns the special distinction of being the first female standalone movie in the 11-year history of the MCU.
When asked about being the lead in the first female-led Marvel film, Larson remarked “I don’t know. I don’t know how it’s any different. To be honest, I don’t want it to feel different.” Further elaborating, “I feel like the more we talk about it, the more we perpetuate the myth that it’s an impossible task. It’s like, no. If it wasn’t like that before it’s because it was wrong. That was just wrong. Now we’re just doing what’s natural.”
In midst of an intergalactic war, Carol Danvers escapes captivity from her enemies and crash lands on Earth in 1995. Upon arriving on Earth, Danvers joins forces with a young Nick Fury (portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson) in order to stop the impending threat of an alien invasion. However, along the way Danvers discovers the truth about her past, her mysterious powers and the war she’s been fighting for the past six years. Featuring a unique jigsaw narrative structure, the film’s use of flashbacks allow viewers to try and piece together Danvers’ backstory with her, as she learns about it in current time.
As a prequel film taking place in 1995, the film’s setting is one of the most unique aspects of the movie as a whole. The abundance of Easter eggs further expand the lore of the MCU, as well as give background information for events that would take place later in the franchise. Additionally, the intergalactic aspects being paired with nostalgic references to ’90s fashion, technology, locations and music, work to create a distinct aesthetic unlike any of its MCU predecessors.
Directors Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck took full advantage of this unique aesthetic, as in an interview with AMC, Boden said, “We do have a movie that takes place in the ‘90s, and you will hear some ‘90s music, hopefully stuff that reminds you of the past.” Adding on, “There’s a lot of fun stuff to play with…having this woman from a super-advanced technological place dropped down not only on Earth, but on 1990s Earth, there’s some fodder in there.”
While thoroughly enjoyable, “Captain Marvel”, much like “Ant-Man & The Wasp”, suffers from being in an odd position on the MCU movie slate. As the film takes places 23 years prior to “Avengers: Infinity War”, but was released after the cataclysmic events of the ensemble film. The result is, within the greater context of the MCU, the events of films seem somewhat inconsequential. However, the story of this movie itself wasn’t the primary motivation for creating this film. “Captain Marvel” was intended to introduce one of Marvel’s most powerful heroes to audiences before “Avengers: Endgame” on April 26, and the film accomplished its goal marvelously.
Fan and critic responses to “Captain Marvel” reflect the film’s odd conundrum, as while the film boasts a respectable 79% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score faired far worse, sitting at an anemic 62%. However, despite meager reception from fans, the film was a resounding success at the box office. The 21st installation in the MCU grossed a March box-office record, $455 million dollars during the opening weekend, which is also the sixth highest opening weekend of all time. A clear indication that Captain Marvel will be a mainstay of the MCU for many years to come.