If you're anything like me and grew up loving cinema, movie night was the best night of the week. You'd go to the dinky little pre-IMAX theater with sticky floors and weird smells, get your buttery snacks, and for the next two hours you'd be transported to another world. And if it was a good movie, it would be a world where everything made sense, where the good guys beat the bad guys by overcoming impossible odds, becoming their true, heroic selves and saving the day.
- That's her about-to-punch-a-space-ship face.
"Captain Marvel" bottles up that '90s movie theater experience and presents it wrapped with a flaming golden ribbon and spritzed with a strong essence of girl power. This is an origin story that starts with Vers the Space Marine (a perfectly cast Brie Larson) in service of the blue-skinned Kree race.
Left without any memories of her past, she's on a quest to master her flaming fist-punch abilities and become her best super-heroic self. When the opposing green-skinned and shape changing Skrull race captures and interrogates her, it jostles loose some very human memories of her time serving in the Air Force in Louisiana, sending her back to Earth and her missing past.
The moment she crash-lands through the roof of a Blockbuster Video, we realize the story takes place in the '90s, changing from a futuristic space movie to a joyously nostalgic romp through rural Louisiana as she reunites with old Air Force buddies, wearing a Nine Inch Nails T-shirt the whole time.
At the center of this sweet blast of '90s nostalgia is a strongly beating moral heart. Vers regains her memories of being Air Force pilot Carol Danvers, and with it comes the realization that she's stronger than she ever knew. A life spent being underestimated for being a woman has left her ready to take on violent alien races. So, when we finally get to see Captain Marvel as a glowing golden goddess punching spaceships in half, it feels like she really earned her heroism.
Like other Marvel movies, you don't have to be a huge comic book nerd, understanding everyone's back stories, to thoroughly enjoy this movie. However, fans of Marvel comic books and movies alike will enjoy seeing familiar faces and clever tie-ins from the rest of the franchise, including a young, fresh-faced Nick Fury rocking two fully functional eyeballs, and fan favorite Agent Coulson still alive and kicking.
Stay after the credits for a present-day stinger tying Captain Marvel in with "Endgame," the coming resolution to the "Avengers" series, in which we finally see the resolution of the cliffhanger we were left with in "Infinity War."
Built on '90s nostalgia, fleshed out by real-world socio-political concepts, and tempered with a secret love letter to test pilots, Captain Marvel is a truly heroic addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as a very fun stand-alone story about a girl who's just really, really good at punching things.