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Captain Marvel is a rare movie in Marvel Cinematic Universe

Starring Brie Larson as lead superheroine​, feminist fable Captain Marvel actually gets better as it goes on.

If you somehow missed the previous 20 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel may be a good place to start. For one thing, it’s an educational prequel to the whole Avengers super-squad, with a digitally de-aged Samuel L Jackson as team founder Nick Fury featuring prominently as he buddies up with Brie Larson’s amnesiac space warrior. He’s good fun.

For another, the 1995 grunge-soundtracked setting and the lacklustre action make this feel as if it was made well before Iron Man kicked off the whole MCU in 2008.

Of course, this is the first Marvel movie with a lead superheroine. So, she needs an origin story as well as time to get the female empowerment message through. It certainly does the latter, quite neatly, towards the end. Which also makes it a rare MCU film – one that ends far better than it starts. But early on, the space battles take too long to stop feeling like some old Star Trek spin-off. And in the middle, it’s also quite a while before Larson stops feeling as if she’s a supporting player in her own film. When she finally ascends to that captaincy, it’s certainly rousing. She might be some kind of ultimate superhero – it seems like she’s the cavalry in next month’s Avengers: Endgame – but her debut is no game-changer.

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★★

Video: Marvel Entertainment

This article was first published in the March 23, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.