Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Marvel's Carol Danvers

After dabbling in movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel goes all-in on more hardcore sci-fi with their latest film offering a sort-of alien protagonist in a rebellious Kree warrior who arrives on Earth searching for a scientist before the alien-shape-shifting Skrulls can get their hands on her. Complicating matters for Vers (Brie Larson) are her fractured memories of Earth, only recently returned from her interrogation with the Skrulls, which will not only lead her on a search for a missing scientist but also a discovery into who she is.

It may have taken Marvel a decade and DC to greenlight two movies (Wonder Woman and its sequel) before going into production with a lead female protagonist, but the writing and directing team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck deliver a solid super-hero film that fits somewhere in the lower-upper-half of the MCU. Larson easily carries the film that brings in some fan favorite supporting characters that help liven up the proceedings after a somewhat clunky opening act that spends a lengthy amount of time explaining the Kree, the Skrulls, the war between the two alien races, and Verse's role with the Kree.

More serious than either of the Guardians films, there is still plenty of humor here as characters react to their first encounter with an alien. There's also Goose who provides some cute, and somewhat disturbing, scenes for a feline. Taking place in the 1990s allows for the film to bring in a younger version of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) than we've seen before and act as a precursor to the modern events of the Avengers movies, although the plot also creates a a continuity issue that is never fully resolved. (It also allows for the return of a fan favorite which I won't spoil here.) If you stay around through the credits you will find out how Marvel will tie Carol and her story into the events of the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.

The other main supporting characters are provided by Jude Law and Ben Mendelsohn as the leaders of the Kree and Skrull teams and Annette Bening as the missing scientist who has information both alien races want and answers that can fill in the gaps of Carol's memory. The early sequences between Law and Larson work well, although I think his character feels stiffed during the film's final act. Mendelsohn is far more humorous than I expected from a Skrull, characters I would love to see explored more in a Fantastic Four film, but his performance fits the tone of the film and allows Larson to play the straight man to the drama unfolding around her.

With potentially several of Marvel's characters on their way out after Endgame, the MCU is going to need new core characters to build around. These are likely to be Carol Danvers and Spider-Man, which might make for an interesting pair on-screen together mixing in her stoicism (that thankfully thaws a bit of the course of the film) with Spidey's flair. If you were already a fan of Carol Danvers you will likely enjoy the film, and if you were on the fence with Larson picking up the torch from Chris Evans to usher in a new series of films I think you should feel reassured that the MCU appears to be in good hands.

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