‘Captain Marvel’ does the Cinematic Universe proud

Brie Larson stars in “Captain Marvel”

It’s possible that the phrase “female empowerment” never has been more literal than in the case of “Captain Marvel.”

Because it’s the first female-centric Marvel superhero movie, a lot of expectations are attached to the film – which can get in the way of simply enjoying it for what it is. And there is much to enjoy, including its time-period throwback to the mid-1990s and Brie Larson’s work in the title role whose alias is Carol Danvers, a military pilot destined for even greater things.

Her background makes her much more than the average U.S. Air Force candidate, giving her superpowers to go along with her courage and determination. It also involves an alien species known as the Skrull, and you just know from that name that they won’t mean anything good, for our heroine nor for the world at large if she doesn’t triumph.

While the movie is called “Captain Marvel,” it also gives sizable attention to Samuel L. Jackson as a younger version of his Marvel-series staple Nick Fury. For whatever else the special-effects masters achieve here, it is no small feat to shave nearly 25 years off that actor and character and have the result be completely believable.

That’s just one of the achievements of the “Captain Marvel” directing team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who get the license to do things not seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before. As the overall brand has made clear, with great power comes great responsibility, and they use theirs well.

The presence of Jude Law (as a mentor of the title heroine) and Annette Bening (as someone whose true nature is best left as much of a surprise as possible) also lends cred to the movie. Enlisting them is as key as the involvement of such major stars as Michael Douglas and Jeff Bridges was in earlier Marvel ventures … but in the end, this picture most needs a credible Captain Marvel.

As it turns out, “Room” Oscar winner Larson fills that bill neatly. Her natural relatability goes a very long way, particularly in the portions of the story that aren’t earthbound. She keeps things grounded, and on that count alone, she earns her paycheck.

The overall result is an entertaining Marvel package that sets new boundaries while still delivering familiar-feeling fun – and that may be the most marvelous thing about “Captain Marvel.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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