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Full of dazzling interstellar visuals, a touch of 90s nostalgia, and a truly powerful hero, Captain Marvel is as wholesome as it is clever, action-packed, and fun.

After smashing through orbit and the roof of a Blockbuster Video store, Vers (Brie Larson) introduces herself to Agent Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as a member of the Kree, a race of “noble warrior heroes” engaged in a long struggle against the Skrull, an alien race of shapeshifters who have begun to invade Earth. As Vers and Fury work to protect Earth, Vers begins to remember another life as a human test pilot. Vers must reconcile her two identities to become Captain Marvel while keeping intergalactic war at bay.

Recent Marvel movies have come a long way from the gritty, earth-based, urban settings where we first met the Avengers. Captain Marvel, in its rich, saturated colors and stunningly seamless graphics shares the visual depth of Black Panther.

Since we were first introduced to homemade-hero Tony Stark, the stakes have risen from saving the world to saving the universe. The heroes and their powers have grown too. Anything the Avengers can do, Captain Marvel can do better. Flight? No boosters necessary; she can shoot photon blasts from her hands. Martial arts skills? Jaw- and bad-guy-dropping. Backstory featuring rising from ridicule and injustice? Step aside Steve Rogers, there’s a new captain in town.

Because victory is sure, the sense of peril in this film is low. It’s one of the cleanest action films I have seen. Captain Marvel makes world-saving effortless—a strong contrast to Diana’s titanic struggle against Ares in Wonder Woman (2017).

As Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie, critiquing the film’s portrayal of women is unavoidable, as is comparing it to DC’s Wonder Woman. Captain Marvel maintains a much lighter feel and replaces the typical romantic subplot with wonderfully fresh, comedic friendships  with Fury, Maria Rambeau—a test pilot who knew Vers before she was Kree—and Maria’s daughter. The film showcases supportive, encouraging female friendships among women of all ages.

As an origin story, the storyline of self-discovery is familiar but not forced. Vers, in both her human and Kree life, is constantly told she’s “too emotional,” a trait her bullies associate with being female. She’s pushed aside and hampered at every turn. But her fearless empathy and brave commitment to protect the innocent enable her to overcome her own prejudices and fuel her power. Once she knows what the right thing is, she does it unflinchingly. She moderates the use of her gifts by conviction, not convention.

Christians sometimes fall into a mindset that a life of good works must necessarily be a life of limitation and privation. Women and men forget that living fully into our gifts is brave, powerful, epic, and often disruptive to the status quo. Captain Marvel’s whoops of joy as she soars through space and punches missiles out of existence are a good reminder of what using our gifts to our full potential can be.

Building up to the climactic Avengers: End Game, Captain Marvel is the superhero movie we needed and representation women deserve to see. (Marvel/Disney)

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