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Flicks With Nicki – ‘Captain Marvel’

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Flicks With Nicki – ‘Captain Marvel’

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Nicki Salcedo

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If you’ve never seen a Marvel movie, you don’t need to go back in time to 2007’s “Iron Man.” You don’t have to watch 20 movies to understand what’s happening in “Captain Marvel,” the 21st installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The cool kids say MCU and have read 50 years of the preceding comics. But if a movie does its job right, you can jump in and enjoy this one for what it is: A two-hours-and-four-minutes long space superhero movie set in the year 1995.

Vers (Brie Larson) is a Kree soldier in a war against the Skrulls, a race of shapeshifters who can become nearly identical to any being they see. Vers likes to fight, but has no memory of her life before the Kree found her. Cue sci-fi amnesia, then add unlimited and unrestrained power that her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) insists she must control. Though she bleeds alien blue blood, Vers looks like a castaway from planet C-53 (Earth) who had her last hair cut after watching “Reality Bites.” It’s her lucky day when the Supreme Intelligence (Annette Benning) sends Vers on a mission to Earth where she can unravel the secrets of her past.

Since the movie trailer and those 50 years of comics let the cat out of the bag, it’s no spoiler to say that Vers is really Carol Danvers, a human with memories of being an Air Force pilot, someone’s daughter, and someone’s friend. She meets two-eyed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and fresh-faced Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) who don’t know if they should trust or destroy Carol.

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We see a little backstory for S.H.I.E.L.D. and characters from other installments of the MCU, the shared world where all of the films are set. This universe has heroes and villains and giant blocks of energy. If you want extra credit it also includes the TV shows “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Agent Carter.”

It’s a lot to keep track of. The MCU might be a cinematic telenovela, but “Captain Marvel” never felt like an inside joke where new viewers might be left on the outside. There’s a danger in being film number 21 of 30 or so movies. Are you doomed to make references to all the links in the chain before you? Or can you stand on your own? Ms. Marvel stands strong.

We see an origin story for Carol Danvers with a new twist on how she got her superpowers. There is a focus on powerful women, all kinds of women, throughout the film. The entertainment industry usually wants women to be silly or silent and never ever super. This Marvel movie is set 10 years after “Top Gun” was made, and Carol Danvers appears in the MCU timeline as the antidote to the Tom Cruise style flyboys of the 1980’s. Her allies are Dr. Wendy Lawson (also Annette Benning) and Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch). There’s also a cat named Goose.

The feline and the feminine are easy to vilify in film, but not so here. Goose, a beautiful orange tabby, is sweet and savvy and dangerous. One of the distinctive markings on the cat is the “M” fur pattern above the eyes. Is it for Marvel? Not only does Goose add levity to the movie, but a cat in space will bring to mind Jonesy, Ripley’s cat in the original “Alien.” A cat might keep you safe.

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Bring a cat and bring a good soundtrack. The first songs we hear when she lands back on Earth are by Salt-N-Pepa and TLC. With the exception “Guardians of the Galaxy,” superheroes traditionally get classic orchestral music. Think John Williams and “Superman.” Here we see the wonderful angst and playfulness of the 90’s American Earth on display for all the universe to see. “Captain Marvel” allowed us a chance to be tourists in another time. The 1995 version of me enjoyed seeing that world through the eyes of a Carol. Even though she came from a technologically advanced world, she didn’t ridicule the slow dial-up connections or gadgets of the day. This is why I liked Carol. She embodied adaptability and strength.

The plot was fine, the twists were predictable and the action fun. The story was mediocre, but the characters were great. I liked that we didn’t have a gratuitous love interest. I loved the two roles played by Annette Benning. The MCU has been kind to actors we know from other genres and given them fresh life here. Brie Larson is the first woman to have top billing in a universe graced with the acting power of Glenn Close, Angela Bassett, and Marisa Tomei. I’ve had several 90’s fangirl moments throughout these movies.

I admit that I went to see “Captain Marvel” for hints about “Avengers: Endgame.” It’s completely acceptable to pay full price for a movie for the 30 second after-credits scene. I enjoy picking up parts of the larger story and laying them down like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Much of the MCU is about friendship and family and alliances. This movie certainly earned a point for a lovely scene where Maria says something about friendship to Carol that tore my heart apart. Yes, y’all. They squeezed a single tear from me.

Alien battles scenes. Squad goals. And an awesome cat. Grade B.

Did you see this movie? Loved it? Hated it? Have complicated thoughts about it? Let us know in the comments.

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