Perhaps more than any other Marvel movie, Captain Marvel knows who its target audience is. The film’s 1990s setting – filled to the brim with nostalgic references – make it clear that this movie is aiming for the older comic book crowd. And perhaps that is what makes Captain Marvel such a strong entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Unencumbered by a need to appeal to fans of all ages, the film emerges as one of quirkiest and most unique entries in the long-running series.
That is not to say that Captain Marvel doesn’t feature the usual hallmarks of a Marvel movie. Indeed, the movie may be chalk full of more fan service than the last few films combined, but it all manages to feel fresh and different. There is some genuinely exciting action - including an excellent car chase the likes of which haven’t been seen in a Marvel film in a long time - and the film’s script (penned by co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck alongside Geneva Robertson-Dworet) showcases an offbeat sense of humor reminiscent of the MCU’s other, boldly eccentric entries.
There is also a genuinely intriguing mystery at the heart of the film’s scenario which is enlivened from strong performances by Brie Larson as the eponymous hero, Samuel L. Jackson as a digitally de-aged Nick Fury, and Jude Law as Larson’s former mentor. It all makes for an engaging watch, made all the more sumptuous by Ben Davis’ evocative cinematography. Captain Marvel may very well be the best looking of the films in the MCU.
Captain Marvel plays out like fairly standard Marvel movie fare, but its presentation is so singularly done that – despite the film’s endless attempts to weave its story into the larger tapestry of Marvel’s labyrinth-like narrative – Captain Marvel feels very much like its own, independent entity.