Well, it only took about a million years, but Marvel has finally unleashed a standalone film with a woman lead, and anyone left who wants to whine about the woman-ness of it all is clearly destined for the wrong side of history. Captain Marvel is fantastic.

We follow Vers (or Carol Danvers if you like; Brie Larson) as she is swept up in an interstellar war between the Kree and the Skrull, alien races locked in battle for who even knows how long. Vers fights for the Kree, but it's mostly about having shown up on their planet six years back with no memory than it is about being one of them. She's powerful but, we're told by her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), too emotional to harness her singular powers effectively. Yawn, bro.

Hijinks ensue and ass-kickery commences, but when a seemingly simple mission goes awry and thus strands Vers on Earth alongside a young Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), alliances shift, the mystery unfolds and Vers spends a solid two hours being an absolute badass. Turns out emotions are part of that—who knew?

Everyone.

Anyway …

Larson is pitch-perfect as the burgeoning superhero, all sly smiles and wise-cracking jokes that humanize her otherwise otherworldly powers without muting her flair. We instantly love her and side firmly with her no matter how the tide turns. The best scenes involve Larson and Jackson's chemistry, however. You can practically feel the fun they're having together, and whatever tech Marvel is using to make Jackson look 20 years younger is flawless.

There are a few missteps, however, from being beaten within an inch of our lives with '90s references (we get it, Marvel: Blockbuster and grunge and No Doubt were things then) to the studio's insistence on cramming as many fan-service-y Easter eggs into the fray as possible. Still, by the time Vers realizes what's really going on, she embraces her human side and gets down to beating the shit out of anyone who's asking for it, the only feeling left is that of being utterly psyched.

Let us only hope the entitled comic book brats check their misogyny at the door long enough to take Captain Marvel for what it is; namely, a triumphant expansion of the Marvel universe with one of the most memorable and exciting characters on its roster. More like this, please!

8
+Larson kicks ass; finally a spotlight on women heroes
-Too many '90s references

Captain Marvel
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
With Larson and Jackson
Violet Crown, Regal, PG-13, 124 min.