Marvel Studios heads back to the 90s for the 21st (!) film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and presents enough tweaks to the formula to make it feel fresh and alive.

Although it was at risk of being something of a curtain-raiser for next month's Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel instead puts its head down and concentrates on the task at hand: telling the story of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), a test pilot whom we first meet as a super-powered member of an intergalactic strike team known as Starforce, part of the alien Kree Empire.

How this connects to her life on Earth is a mystery the film spends much of its time exploring. It involves her arriving on our planet in the mid 90s and interacting with a young Nick Fury and Agent Coulson (Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg, both digitally de-aged), as well as a plot by a group of green-skinned Skrulls, the shape-shifting sworn enemy of the Kree.

Larson plays the title character as scrappy, determined and someone who refuses to be held back by her gender. The film thankfully declines to saddle her with a love interest, instead gaining character development from its emphasis on Danvers' friendship with fellow (former) test pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashanna Lynch). Their bond provides the film's sturdy emotional throughline.

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Nicely balancing the Earth-bound elements with epic cosmic action, Captain Marvel is yet another winner from the house of M.

Cast:

Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn

Director:

Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Running time:

124minutes

Rating:

TBC

Verdict:

An arse-kicking exercise in cosmic female empowerment overflows with colour and flavour.