Thanos. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Marvel’s equivalent to Superman is coming to get ya.

In some quarters this first Marvel Cinematic Universe female-centric release had been tagged as a ‘safe’ filler in the franchise.

It is anything but.

It’s arguably the most widely appealing movie they’ve ever made. It provides fantastic lore to fanboys; fills in lots of gaps (with the likes of SHIELD and Guardians of the Galaxy); is fun for all the family; and with its nineties-set plot has a broader age demographic appeal that makes it an entertaining standalone movie for non comic-book fans too.

From the opening dedication to Stan Lee (who cameos in one of his final roles before he passed away) to the post-credits stinger, this really is enjoyable stuff – with the perfect blend of notable characters, serviceable storyline, enthralling set-pieces, and consistently-interlaced humour.

This is headlined with stand-out performances from headlining players, led by Brie Larson’s (Oscar-winner for Room) title character Carol ‘Captain Marvel’ Danvers, who is ably supported by the excellent Ben Mendelsohn’s (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) Skrull leader Talos, the ever-reliable Jude Law’s Kree commander Yon-Rogg, and the comic-relief of Samuel L Jackson’s director of SHIELD Nick Fury – who’s been made to look younger through groundbreaking state-of-the-art computer imagery along with his colleague Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).

This origin story follows former US Air Force fighter pilot Danvers, who’s turned into one of the Kree’s greatest assets after her DNA was fused with alien genes during an accident – imbuing her with superhuman strength, energy projection and the ability to fly.

The only problem is she has little memory of her past existence on Earth – bar intermittent memories of her former mentor (Annette Bening’s Lawson) – leaving her harbouring questions about her history, as she fights the invading Skrull army as a part of Yon-Rogg’s elite Kree military team Starforce.

But when she ends up on Earth after a mission goes awry, she crosses paths with Fury, and together they unravel the mystery behind her existence – and soon Danvers realises not everything in the universe is what it seems.

It’s initially a slow-burner, but with nods to nineties nostalgia – Blockbuster Video with True Lies (coincidentally the first movie viewed by myself after passing my driving test in 1994 and gaining the freedom to watch multiple films every month from then on which led to me becoming a film critic) advertising material, and famous music tracks from the likes of Nirvana, TLC and Des’ree – and aforementioned ‘loose end’ tie-ups to other Marvel films – Djimon Hounsou’s warrior Korath and Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser, who starred in the original Guardians of the Galaxy, both feature – it all comes together into one truly satisfying adventure, that may even have a little more for the older viewers (like myself) than the younger ones this time round.

It’s not quite as ‘girl powery’ as Wonder Woman – as Larson’s Danvers shares more screen-time with her male counterparts compared to Gadot’s Amazonian warrior two years ago – but Larson makes her mark, and kicks ass to boot.

She’s undoubtedly going to make a significant statement next month in the fourth Avengers instalment, Endgame, too – and Earth definitely now has someone to compete with the otherworldly-super-powered Thanos.

Which leaves this entry sitting marvel-ously in the Top Ten movies released in the MCU canon so far.

ESP Rating: 4/5

Gavin Miller

Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Lashana Lynch, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Akira Akbar, Annette Bening & Clark Gregg

Running Time: 2 Hrs4 Mins

Directors: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

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