The Long Plot, Sans Spoilers
Vers (Brie Larson), a warrior of the Kree Empire who can fire photon blasts from her hands, is having recurring nightmares about her mysterious past. When she talks about it to her mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), he urges her to control her emotions and take control of her powers.
She, along with a team of other Kree warriors, was sent on a mission to rescue one of their operatives lost in a nearby planet overrun by Kree's rival race, the Skrulls. During this mission, their team was ambushed and Vers was captured by their leader, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). The Skrulls used a memory probe on her to extract information causing her to remember parts about her past, including her relationship with a Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening). She escapes from the Skrulls and crash-lands on Earth with the aliens still in pursuit. She contacts Yon-Rogg for backup, and he urges her to stay put.
On Earth, the crash attracted S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). They talk to Vers, who told them about a possible Skrull infiltration unless she first finds who they're looking for. Nick offers to assist her in finding Lawson first. As they search, Vers starts to piece together her past and meet with her best friend before the events that led her to Kree.
Talos and the other Skrulls inevitably catch up with Vers. Talos shows her proof about her true identity and how she ended up with the Kree. They locate Lawson's laboratory and find what the Skrulls were really after. Yon-Rogg and his team eventually find Vers and a big confrontation between Kree and Skrulls happen.
The Short, Honest Plot
Vers, a trained warrior, finds out about her lost past and rethinks her allegiances. It's an origin story for Captain Marvel as well as other key figures and plot points in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe like Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, and the tesseract.
The Actors And Where You Last Saw Them
Brie Larson as Vers/Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel
Brie Larson rose to fame in 2016 after winning an Oscar for her work in the film Room. But before her big win, she has been working for over 15 years, appearing in short-lived TV shows as well as supporting roles in films, like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Spectacular Now, and Trainwreck. Her last big film prior to Captain Marvel was Kong: Skull Island in 2017.
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
When he's not playing Nick Fury in the MCU, Samuel L. Jackson is a prolific actor, appearing in iconic movies such as Pulp Fiction and frequently works with director Quentin Tarantino. He was also in the Star Wars prequels as the Jedi Mace Windu, and is the voice of Craig T. Nelson in The Incredibles movies. You may have also seen him in the cult thriller, Snakes On A Plane.
Jude Law as Yon-Rogg
No stranger to big film franchises, Jude Law was last seen playing the young Professor Albus Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. He was also Dr. John Watson to fellow MCU pal, Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes in the Sherlock Holmes film franchise. '90s kids would also remember him as Haley Joel Osment's fellow robot friend in A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
Ben Mendelsohn as Talos/Keller
He may be heavily made-up as a Skrull leader in the film, but you may have already seen him in big blockbusters like The Dark Knight Rises, Ready Player One, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as Orson Krennic. He also stars in the Netflix show, Bloodline with Linda Cardinelli who is also part of the MCU as Hawkeye's wife.
Annette Bening as Wendy Lawson/Mar-Vell
Annette Bening is a well-known dramatic actress, having earned four Oscar nominations for The Grifters, American Beauty, Being Julia, and The Kids Are Alright. You might have seen her in movies like the film adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull starring Saoirse Ronan, or the 2016 drama 20th Century Women co-starring Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig.
Did You Know:
1. Actors Clark Gregg (reprising his role as Agent Coulson) and Samuel L. Jackson were digitally "de-aged" in the movie. The MCU has used this technology before in Captain America: Civil War, Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol. 2, and the Ant-Man movies.
2. Aside from Nick Fury and Agent Coulson, other previous MCU characters that appear in this prequel are Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and Korath (Djimon Hounsou) who both originally appeared in Guardians Of The Galaxy.
3. Brie Larson is allergic to cats, and performed opposite a puppet or video effects for her scenes with Goose the cat. The cat was also renamed after a character from Top Gun in the film. In the comics, he was called "Chewie," after the Wookie from the Star Wars franchise.
4. This is the first MCU film released after Stan Lee's death. He makes a cameo in two scenes in this film, and has reportedly filmed his cameos for Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home.
5. Brie Larson trained for nine months to prepare for this movie, learning boxing, judo, and wrestling.
What I Think:
Captain Marvel, on the surface, feels like your typical superhero origin story where an unsuspecting person finds out they're meant for bigger things. There are chase sequences and fight sequences, aliens and tech centuries away from being realistic. In this regard, this film is no different from others in the genre. It even takes a while before we get a sense of Carol Danvers (or Vers) as a character.
It's somewhat of a nostalgia trip not just for the '90s, but with its little callbacks to other parts of the MCU. MCU's usual tricks like Stan Lee's cameo (now poignant because of his passing), slow reveals to how exactly Carol fits into the larger world is satisfying and exciting, but if this is your first ever MCU movie, they might be easy to miss.
All of the things that may make the film seem limited such as its reliance on exposition and its quick pace is due to it needing to serve the larger narrative. Remember that each MCU movie isn't a stand alone. An origin movie isn't just an origin movie, but a sequel to whichever film came before it, as well as a chapter of something larger. That's a lot of things to pack into one film, where you have to introduce a completely new character and her world.
It really shines when it isn't working too hard to tie itself to the larger universe it serves. Vers and Fury's partnership is highly enjoyable, with their characters being a perfect fit for each other. They trust each other pretty quickly and you don't really question it, either. Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson's dynamic is really the core of this film. Jude Law's character, Yon-Rogg, is one of MCU's more interesting (spoiler!) "villains." Jude, always so amiable on screen, is not hard to trust which makes the movie's second act twist even more exciting.
The film's exemplary strength is how it explored its themes that address the feminist pursuit and even the refugee crisis. When the plot turns itself on his head with the fight between the Skrulls and the Kree, the allegory to the plight of refugees is not at all subtle, which works in the film's favor. It's an important point the movie was trying to make, and they made it very clearly.
This call for empathy is such a moving moment, and that emotion was carried through the fight scenes. We see Carol fight single-handedly like a badass, and as a woman, it's so empowering to watch. Her final confrontation with Yon-Rogg was also particularly cathartic. We see her break away (literally and figuratively) from him and his control disguised as care and mentorship.
I'd Recommend It To:
Captain Marvel is, of course, necessary viewing for Marvel fans who just want to know everything about the cinematic universe. It is full of satisfying callbacks and backstories for fan-favorite characters like Agent Coulson and Nick Fury.
This is the kind of film everyone should watch, if only to understand and gain empathy for the plight and struggles of other people. It teaches audiences to look closer at their personal relationships, and assess whether the people closest to us are helping or actually harming our growth.
I recommend it to females everywhere, especially young girls, who should be taught that each and every one of them are forces to be reckoned with. I recommend it to males, too. Captain Marvel is an exploration of complex female strength, and while she is different from Thor or Captain America or Iron Man, she is a superhero all the same.
Finally, I highly recommend this movie to cat lovers.