Arriving amid a wave of MRA-generated controversy almost too stupid to exist in the observable universe, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Captain Marvel is fun and unapologetically feminist. When a mission goes wrong, Kree soldier Vers (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s Brie Larson) falls to 1995 Earth, where with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury (a digitally young-ified Samuel L. Jackson) and USAF pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) she discovers everything she thought she knew about her identity was wrong.
Not only is it the first MCU film with a female lead — apologies to the underwritten Wasp — Captain Marvel’s title Avenger is their first major female hero whose backstory doesn’t involve being kidnapped as a child and turned into a killer. Captain Marvel’s character arc is about regaining her stolen agency, but at least she’s allowed to have the childhood denied to, say, Black Widow or Gamora. Though there’s plenty of punching and brrap-brrap-pew-pew, the true emotional core is her friendship with Rambeau, and if Captain Marvel inspires just one girl to become a USAF pilot, it’ll all have been worth it. Most importantly, a cat proves to be the most pivotal character in not only this story but the entire franchise! For that reason alone, Captain Marvel may be the best MCU film yet.
Rated PG-13. Opens Friday at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission, the AMC Metreon 16, the Century San Francisco Centre 9, the AMC Dine-In Kabuki, the Marina, and the Balboa Twin.