Studios used to open their major blockbusters after Memorial Day. Over time, that release date crept earlier and earlier, and now we have Captain Marvel, which just had one of the greatest box office openings ever, and it’s not even spring yet.
It makes sense—Marvel’s putting out a couple movies a year and they’ve got to spread them out, but it does seem like a bit much.
Thankfully, while Captain Marvel is definitely a super hero movie, it does sidestep some of the usual by-the-numbers plot points and finds a pretty novel way to tell its story.
Captain Marvel is Carol Danvers, who’s fighting alongside an alien race called the Kree. They’re locked in an interstellar battle with another race called the Skrull, who have the ability to shapeshift into anyone they see. The Kree have given Danvers many of their powers, so she’s a sharp fighting machine, although she has absolutely no memory of her time before the Kree, not even that her name is Carol Danvers.
She ends up on Earth in the 1990s, where she meets Nick Fury, the eventual mastermind behind the Avengers, and where she learns about her own past, and that not everyone is what they seem to be — even beyond the Skrulls’ shapeshifting.
This is Marvel’s most narratively ambitious movie, cutting through time and memory, and it’s occasionally a little hard to follow. But I’ll take that trade, given that it’s showing us something new. The movie stands just fine on its own; it’ll work even if this is your first Marvel movie, but it will be more meaningful if you’ve got a basic idea of what we’ve seen before, and it’s a major part of the setup for what’s to come.
Brie Larson plays Captain Marvel fantastically, with determination, vulnerability, and an emotionally resonant resilience. And, in the end, Captain Marvel isn’t just a worthy hero, she’s maybe the most powerful one we’ve ever seen.