It’s finally here: Captain Marvel (2019) has burst into theaters and the excitement is real! This is the long overdue first Marvel Cinematic Universe film with a female solo lead, and it steps up to the plate to introduce a hero who will change the game. (Mild spoilers ahead!)

Captain Marvel is the story of a woman who can’t remember who she was but is embracing who she is. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is a fiercely competitive and capable person with a sharp wit and a never-quit attitude. Not everything is as it seems, and if you’ve been paying attention to the MCU you’ll be able to piece together that something isn’t right.

The film takes us back in time to the mid-1990s and serves not only as an origin story for the titular character, but for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) as well. It also serves to bridge several of the gaps in the MCU by filling in the time before the Avengers Initiative and even tying up a few loose threads that went unexplained between Captain America: The First Avenger and Iron Man.

One of the things I like very much about this film is that, even though it’s an origin story, it doesn’t move in chronological order through the whole “coming into powers” thing that most superhero origin movies do. Instead we meet “Vers” already powered up, just with no memories prior to six years ago. She’s been training to use them and is on the cusp of her first mission with her team. She’s excited and capable but still finding ways to restrain her emotions. We still get the origin, but it comes much later in the film. This structure made me much more interested in the action of the story.

Captain Marvel has great character moments

My favorite thing about Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel is her unabashed joy at every new ability. The look on her face at the moment when she realizes she can fly is ecstatic. She pulls you into her joy and excitement and it feels like you’re flying along with her.

I also appreciated the inclusion of Goose. She not only provides some great comedic relief (mostly in people reacting to her), but it’s fun to see the characters bring her along unquestioningly. Her role in the film is set up perfectly, and pays off well. (Maybe I’m a little kitty-biased, but I also just really loved having a cat along for the ride the whole time.)

It’s really nice, too, that Marvel Studios has finally remembered that superhero movies can just be fun. There are stakes for sure, but I have to be honest– I was getting bored with Marvel. Then Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther came out and embraced those characters for who they are and it was FUN. I want to have fun at the movies. (Obviously movies run the gamut of drama to comedy to action, but aren’t we there, at least in part, to be entertained every time we go?) Boring isn’t good.

This one isn’t boring.

Go see it in films, stay for the mid- and post-credit scenes, and enjoy the ride. It’s worth it. And bring some tissues for the opening sequence– it’s lovely. You’ll know what I mean.