By Tara McNamara,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Powerful female superhero story has some violence, language.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Many positive messages: You are stronger than you think. Know your enemy: It might just be you. Don't fight wars, end them. But real takeaway is the strength, power of women and female friendship. Themes of perseverance, integrity.
Positive Role Models
Whole film is about female empowerment, flipping gender stereotypes. All the female characters, including villainous ones, are strong, courageous, powerful, fierce. Despite operating in male-dominated fields, the women's belief in their capabilities is never shaken. They engage in typically "male" behavior (flying a plane, shooting a gun, getting into a fistfight) without comment. Characters are racially diverse.
Violence & Scariness
Guns are used; most weapons are of the fantasy/space variety, like laser scepter, photon blasts. A young woman punches what appears to be an old woman (it's not). Minimal blood is shown, and it's usually blue alien blood. All deaths are those of aliens. Lots of fistfights, including throwing people against walls, blasting them away. Explosions/destruction.
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A pilot uses word "cockpit" to imply male dominance. Other words include "s--t," "s--thole," "hell," "ass," and "oh my God." One use of "mother-Flerken."
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Products & Purchases
Camaro mentioned positively, Magee's Donuts shown in background. Scene in bar features neon signs of beer brands, including Budweiser, Pabst, Miller High Life. Set in 1995, and now-defunct brands of that era (like Blockbuster) are used to reflect that, often comically.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One scene takes place in a bar with signage identifying brands, but no actual drinks are ever seen.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Captain Marvel is the first female-led superhero movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's an Avengers prequel, telling the story of how Air Force pilot Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) becomes Captain Marvel, one of the most powerful superheroes ever. While there's plenty of action violence (including guns/weapons), most of it is of a sci-fi/fantasy nature, with just a couple of curse words ("s--t" being the strongest). The film offers several positive messages related to perseverance, integrity, and more, but the greatest takeaway is watching a fearless, confident, mighty woman become a superhero. Carol Danvers is a fantastic role model: She always sees herself as capable, she's not objectified, male counterparts recognize her intelligence and strength, and she has a strong sense of integrity. Women support women, the characters are diverse, ageism is nonexistent, and romance doesn't figure into things at all.
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Based on 106 parent reviews
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What's the Story?
CAPTAIN MARVEL's origin story begins as Kree warrior Vers (Brie Larson) visits Earth on a mission to stop a shape-shifting alien infiltration. She teams up with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to save the planet from a war between two alien races. As she regains lost memories, she realizes the extent of her own powers and develops into the universe's most powerful superhero.
Is It Any Good?
This superhero flick is basic but still engrossing, enthralling, and rewarding on many levels, just one of which is seeing Marvel's first female superhero get her own movie. Captain Marvel is fairly paint-by-the-numbers, but that doesn't lessen its powerful impact. It's an Avengers origin story as well as a story of Captain Marvel herself, which doubles the glee, especially the introduction of a young Nick Fury. While each Avengers movie is funnier than the last, Captain Marvel returns to Captain America-level humor, while keeping the themes simple and the action frequent. One of the Avengers franchise's strongest story elements has been encouraging audiences to look at a situation from both perspectives -- this film continues in that tradition by embracing a perspective shift.
Carol Danvers is an ideal female heroine: She's Katniss Everdeen without the self-doubt, Wonder Woman without the sexualization, and Black Widow without the moral complexity. With an everywoman charm, Larson quickly convinces viewers that she's the right woman to be Marvel's most powerful superhero: Girls everywhere can see themselves in her. And, by the way, there's no reason boys can't as well. The most amazing feat of the film is that Larson's character is somewhat gender-neutral: Viewers won't necessarily think "wow, that's a WOMAN landing those punches" -- instead, they're likely to think "wow, what a great superhero."
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about women's roles in comics and superhero films. What makes Carol Danvers a role model in Captain Marvel? How does she compare to other female superheroes? How is she portrayed compared to other Avengers?
Captain Marvel stands out among Avengers movies (and most superhero movies) in that women hold significant filmmaker roles: writing, directing, producing, and editing. Why is it important that women have a hand in making big, popular movies? What's a potential consequence when men tell a story about women? What's the potential consequence when the majority of films come only from one gender?
How does Captain Marvel embody courage, perseverance, and integrity? Why are those important character strengths? Even though she's powerful enough to be a one-woman show, why do you think she still invites teamwork?
How does Carol's perspective change on the war she's fighting for the Kree? Do you think "bad guys" think they're bad? How do you determine what's right?
What do you think about the way superhero movies depict violence? Is there a difference in the way you react to realistic violence vs. stylized violence? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
- In theaters: March 8, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: June 11, 2019
- Cast: Brie Larson, Gemma Chan, Jude Law
- Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Space and Aliens
- Character Strengths: Courage, Integrity, Perseverance
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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