After twenty-one films, you could be forgiven for thinking the Marvel Cinematic Universe might be in danger of running out of steam.
However, if the newest film in the superheroic series Captain Marvel is anything to go by, there’s no danger of it happening any time soon.
Set in the Nineties (the best decade ever according to the internet), Captain Marvel follows Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), as she learns to control her powers while also dealing with a race of shape-shifting aliens known as Skrulls, who’ve infiltrated Earth.
Along the way she must confront the mystery of who she really is and discover why she was gifted such immense power.
Like most Marvel films Captain Marvel is a fantastic blend of wonderful character work and sensational spectacle.
What separates Captain Marvel from the crowd though is the way the film flips the origin story on its head, making the question of where Carol’s powers really come from one of its central mysteries.
Like Batman Begins before it, the film deftly weaves past and present together to create a real sense of mystery as to what exactly happened to Carol to make her the most powerful woman in the universe.
And when I say the most powerful woman in the universe, I’m not lying. At her strongest Carol could take on Hulk and Thor at the same time and still have enough gas in the tank to make Thanos wish he’d never got off his stupid space throne.
Thankfully, despite her immense powers, the filmmakers avert the usual ‘Superman problem’ of ‘how the hell do you fight someone who’s essentially a flying tank’ in a unique and satisfying way.
It helps Brie Larson is perfectly cast, delivering a pitch-perfect performance which balances Carol’s tenacity and strength with an underlying sense of vulnerability.
The supporting cast, as you’d expect from a Marvel film, are also great, but particular praise must be paid to Ben Mendelsohn who plays Talos – the leader of the Skrulls.
Talos is probably my favourite Marvel villain since Loki, he’s funny, dangerous and – surprisingly – quite complex with plans beyond the usual blue space laser.
Unfortunately for all the human actors in the film, the real star of the show is a cat, a cat called Goose (Reggie), who despite being unable to talk, steals every scene he’s in.
The film isn’t without its problems though, it gets off to quite a slow start and suffers from the usual Marvel criticisms; the characters are a little too glib in the face of incredible danger.
Thankfully though, the film’s charming and exciting enough to get away with it just like other films in the series.
Finally, I thought the film’s central message – you shouldn’t let people tell you who you are – was a really positive one, and I enjoyed how little Carol’s gender – something you might expect the film to play lip service too – came up.
Instead of telling us how Carol is an amazing and strong woman, we see her be a compassionate and powerful human being, and I liked that a lot.
All in all, Captain Marvel gets four stars out of five.
Captain Marvel hits cinemas Friday, March 8.
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