If “Avengers: Endgame” is to be the last supper for the first decade plus of story building in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then “Captain Marvel” is a fitting appetizer.
The latest adventure in the Marvel oeuvre acts as a prequel to the MCU, providing fans answers to questions they’ve wondered about since Marvel Studios began weaving connective tissue between its films with “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk” in 2008 as well as setting up a greater cosmic playground where future exploits might unfold.
New In Local Theaters
- Captain Marvel (PG-13) 2 hr, 4 min.
(AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback,Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Springdale, Bentonville Skylight)
» Watch trailer
The film directed by the indie duo of Ann Boden and Ryan Fleck (“Half Nelson” and “Mississippi Grind”) is a sure-handed adventure film that sprawls across the galaxy with the ongoing Kree-Skrull War as a backdrop.
The Skulls date back to 1961 and the very roots of what would become the Marvel Universe in a story printed in “Fantastic Four” No. 2 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby where the green-skinned, bug-eyed, shape-shifting aliens invade Earth.
Kirby and Lee also introduced the Kree, a totalitarian, militaristic alien race ruled by an artificial intelligence construct known as the Supreme Intelligence, in a 1967 story found in “Fantastic Four” No. 65, but the blue-blooded aliens came to fore in the tales of Captain Marvel in several different Marvel series from the late 1960s and 1970s.
The film, written by the directors and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, condenses, adapts, and twists the Captain Marvel story, offering fans a genuine mystery of just who is Kree warrior Vers (Brie Larson), and why is she having flashbacks and dreams of another life on what turns out to be the planet Earth?
Vers is a Kree trainee, who is not only being guided as a soldier by her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) but also being trained by him to control her emotions and an incredible force-beam power that she can throw from her hands.
After a mission against the Skulls goes wrong, Vers finds herself separated from her troop and stuck on the backwater planet Earth where she continues to hunt down a band of Skrulls who are there, seeking a blue, glowing power source that was developed by Kree scientist Mar-Vel (Annette Bening), who was masquerading as an Earth woman.
After crash landing into a Blockbuster video store — the film is set circa 1995 — S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) investigate and become entangled in Vers agenda to hunt down the Skulls, who have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D, and find that blue, glowing power source.
Top 10 Marvel Movies
Keeping in mind that the enjoyment of movies is subjective, and that tastes vary, here’s my Top 10 Marvel films. Let us know what yours are in the comment section.
1. Captain America: Winter Soldier
2. Avengers: Infinity War
4. Black Panther
5. Thor: Ragnarok
6. Captain America: Civil War
7. Iron Man
8. Captain America
9. Spider-Man: Homecoming
10. Ant-Man and the Wasp
As you can tell from the description, the film’s plot is convoluted, but directors Bowden and Fleck deftly unweave it in a compelling and exciting manner that doesn’t leave the viewer confused once clues and information are revealed.
Larson’s Vers is a different sort of Marvel hero beyond the fact that this is the first female-led Marvel movie. Vers is sure of herself and certainly a hero, but Larson plays her aloof, which might be fitting under the character’s circumstances, but the Oscar winner’s performance lacks the charisma we’ve grown accustomed to from our Marvel heroes.
That might be refreshing to some who have grown tired of the humor normally displayed by Marvel heroes, but for those who enjoy it, Jackson is there to deliver in a co-starring role that tells us much more about the history of the intrepid super spy, who was responsible for putting together the Avengers.
Also on hand is Goose, the orange scene-stealing tabby, which is more than it seems. His name has to be a tip of the hat to the lovable but tragic Anthony Edwards’ character in “Top Gun,” since he’s found on an Air Force base.
Likewise Ben Mendelsohn shines in his performance as the Skull leader, whose mission to Earth is double-sided, and Law and Bening add heft in their performances as Vers’ mentors. Lashana Lynch stands out as Maria Rambeau, a friend of Vers.
If you’re a fan of the Marvel movies, this film does add information to flesh out characters like Fury and offers background that brings new light to movies like “Avengers” from 2012 and likely sets up some angles for “Avengers: Endgame,” which opens April 26, although the latter is speculation on my part.
The film does have a mid-credit scene that is “Avengers: Endgame” oriented, and a post-credit scene that is more of a laugher.
For me, the film fits squarely in the middle of the 20 plus Marvel movies that have been released so far. It wouldn’t make my top seven or eight, but it would fall somewhere after that.
(PG-13) 2 hr. 4 min.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
It must be French lit day Monday on Turner Classic Movies with the 1935 version of “The Three Musketeers” at 1 p.m. (CT), followed at 3 p.m. by the 1939 version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
The Musketeers always offer a rousing adventure, but of the two, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” holds up better with outstanding performances by Charles Laughton as the mentally and physically disabled Quasimodo, Maureen O’Hara as the gypsy Esmerelda, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Jean Frollo.
The film was O’Hara’s first Hollywood movie. Laughton brought her from Ireland to be his co-star after being impressed by her work in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Jamaica Inn.”
O’Hara’s a stunning and fiesta beauty as always, and it’s easy to see why most of the male characters in the movie fall in love with her Esmerelda.
The heart of the film is Laughton’s turn as Quasimodo, and the compassion that Esmerelda showed his character, and the loyalty and love that her actions aroused in the lonely, tortured soul who knew little but scorn until she showed him kindness.
Laughton’s makeup is grotesque, but his performance shines through. Though not quite as poignant as Boris Karloff’s turn as the Frankenstein’s monster in 1931’s “Frankenstein,” it’s heartbreaking to watch Quasimodo fall in love and realize his feelings for Esmerelda won’t be reciprocated in the way he would like, but for him to still act as her protector.
Director William Dieterie shows great craft and command in constructing such a rich, lavish, and heartfelt story out of such an enormous production, the largest and most expensive for RKO up to that date.
Screenwriter Sonya Levine weaved current topics into the script adjusting the plight of the gypsies as an allegory for the persecution Jewish people were facing in Germany at the time as well as how the Nazis used propaganda as a means of building support and discrediting the Allies.